If you're my friend on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you well know that Maddie is my dog. If you don't, well now you know, too.
Maddie and I came to be in October of 2001, when she was barely 8 months old. A friend knew I had passed on a dog that was the mix and look I liked, and when she saw a flyer for Maddie, she let me know about her. I have to admit, when I met Maddie I was a bit terrified. She was crazy, A.D.D like, strong and sitting on a coffee table in someone's house. She had never been on a leash, never really walked, never in a car. The fact that she was part Pittbull didn't bother me at all; but that's because I was told she was a Lab/Boxer mix.
I thought a few days about it and decided I can't pass on another dog. And I can't bear to leave her in a home that didn't have time for her. (Looking back I now know the universe aligned for us to be together.)
Oh, and did I mention her name at the time was Suzie-Q, as in the dessert? Sigh...
So, I "adopted" Maddie. It was definitely a learning experience at first. And there were a lot of curve balls; but after a some training, some good walks and short runs, and some great friends to help and advise, we got in sync (not the band—please, I'm too old for that. But wanna talk NKOTB, I'm your girl). After a year together I moved from our home in CO to NYC. People kept asking what I was going to do with my dog. I found that to be such a bizarre question. My answer was always, "What do you do with your children when you move?" So yeah, I knew I had become 'one of those.'
And from that point on I recognized daily the impact Maddie has made on my life.
Recently we have been dealing with Maddie's Cancer. And by we, I mean Maddie and I (see above crazy dog person admission). I've decided to not treat her as she is 13 1/2 and the Chemo is aggressive and the surgery arduous. She was given MAYBE 4 months to live. That was OVER a year ago. I felt like she was invincible. Then this past weekend a tumor in her chest started to bleed. I couldn't tell if it was opening, busting through or what. I tried my best to not think negative thoughts but I lost my shit Sunday morning. I couldn't believe that I was so naive to think Maddie would live forever like this. Or at least another 2 years. And that's when I decided to write this post. It's my letter of gratitude to Maddie. I have learned so much from her that it seems shameful to not share this while she is alive (yes, I know she can't read but when I tell her I did this, she'll be touched).
So, with that being said, here is a list of things I've learned from Miss Maddie (in no particular order):
BE LIKE MADDIE (this is something my life coach and I have determined is a good intention for me to live up to)
• Keep it simple. Too many words muddle the message (note, this does not apply to this blog).
• Eat, sleep, play and love are all you need to live a happy life.
• It's ok to ask for something (in dog speak we call this "beg").
• Begin each day anew (it's crazy that Maddie wakes up as if each day is her first. Excited, eager and ready to please. Her favorite saying is, "Cancer? What Cancer?")
• Speak up. Let someone know when something is bothering you.
• There IS such a thing as unconditional love between 2 non-related beings.
• It's ok to walk up to strangers and say hello. It's also ok to trust your instincts when it is not.
• A long walk everyday is the key.
• A good stretch is a great way to start your day.
• Live life in the present
• Always say sorry. Always forgive.
• Forget about the bad days.
• We all make mistakes. It's ok.
• Be proud of your grey hairs.
• Get outside more.
• Eat with reckless abandon
I used to wish that dogs lived forever. Recently I have come to realize that if they did, we wouldn't appreciate them as much. We have a few short years with them so we soak it all in, love deeply, commit wholeheartedly and accept our differences. Imagine if we applied that thinking to all humans?
Maddie will pass one day. I'll lose it. I'll likely stay in bed for a week. But when that happens I will still be thankful for each and every day we've had together. The good, the bad, the ugly. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
I love my dog. More than I should. And I'm very ok with being one of those. Because she is one of a kind.