We said goodbye to my sweet girl, my sidekick, my dog Maddie this weekend. I have had her for over half my life. I loved taking care of her, and I loved her cheerful, devoted and sweet spirit.
I got Maddie sixteen years ago. I wanted a dog for so long. I wanted a furry companion, but I had no idea that when I met Maddie, I was getting exactly what I needed.
She was with me throughout my teenage years, when I so often felt alone and misunderstood.
She was with me in my bed lying next to me every night.
She was with me, sitting on my suitcase, when I packed for college.
She was with me as I grew up and figured out who I am.
She was with me on sunny days at the beach, sprinting in the sand.
She was with me on snowy days, even when the snow towered over her.
She was with me, riding in the passenger seat when I drove to D.C. to start my first real job.
She was with me in the kitchen, right at my feet, hoping for scraps.
She was with me when I moved into my own place.
She was with me on long walks and hikes, often surprising big-dog owners with her stamina.
She was with me when I lost my job.
She was with me when Will and I got engaged, standing beside us.
She was with me on my wedding day.
She was with me for sixteen sweet years.
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling the emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.”
Through it all, she has been with me, by my side for sixteen years. It is hard to put into words the value she has added to my life. Now that she is gone it is even more apparent just how big her spirit was. Her love and loyalty was much greater than her 10 lb. body.
Making the decision to say farewell has been one of the hardest things for me, because I selfishly did not want to see her go.
I know her spirit is still with me, but it is not the same. I will forever miss how she greeted me at the door and followed me everywhere. I will miss her sweet, happy spirit, but I am so grateful for those sixteen years.
Maddie was a constant reminder to me to look on the bright side. She taught me that there is always time to stop and smell the roses. She taught me about selflessness and loyalty. She taught me what it means to be a loving friend.
Maddie, you are a great dog and a true friend. You have a heart and soul of gold, and I’m so grateful you were my girl, by my side for sixteen year.
My dog Maddie turns 15 today! So, I thought it would be the perfect time to share the story of how I got my dog and how getting Maddie enhanced my life. I am an animal lover by nature, but I have grown up with different pets and never had a connection to a pet like I have with Maddie. I believe some people end up having a pet or two in their lives that they connect with more than others, much like how there are people we just instantly become friends with. Maddie feels like that pet for me. But before I explain, let me rewind and share with you how I got my dog.
How I Got My Dog
For years before I got Maddie, I was begging my Mom and Dad for a dog of my own. My Mom continually had a reason for us to wait. And while her reasons were valid, the dream never left my mind. In fact, we already had a dog in the house. But, my older brother picked out Jo when I was two, and it always felt very much like she was my brother’s dog. At the time I was asking for a dog, I was entering those awkward, early teenage years, and I think I really just wanted something of my own.
Finally, when I was 13, it was time. We had moved into a new house and my Mom said that after a house-warming party, we could look for a dog. On the morning after the party, I distinctly remember coming downstairs with the classified section of the newspaper in hand and several puppy options circled. My Mom (thankfully!) stuck to her word and we hopped in the car to look at the puppies I had found in the paper.
Sadly, the first couple options did not work out. The first place just had a weird vibe and the second place didn’t have any girl dogs. I think I knew in my head exactly what I was looking for and it was upsetting that I was not just finding the dog I had envisioned immediately. That said, if you are looking for a dog, go with your gut. I’m definitely glad I did that day.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings
The afternoon was coming to an end, so we decided to pick one more place to visit. We went to a beautiful farm and walked over to the barn. The owner said they had one more girl Bichon puppy, and he quickly went to get her for us to see. I will never forget him walking out with what looked like a small handful of cotton with a black button-nose and eyes. She was adorable! My Mom and I looked at each other, and we instantly knew – this would be my dog.
As we drove home, the puppy laid on my chest as I decided what to name her. I named her Madeline after the character in the well-known children’s book series, and decided to call her Maddie for short. Maddie and I became attached instantly. I took the lead in her care-taking; feeding her, teaching her how to go up stairs and taking her out in the middle of the night when she needed to go to the bathroom.
I like to think that Maddie understood instantly that I was her “mom.” I know this may sound crazy if you don’t have a pet! But, since the day I got her, Maddie has followed me around everywhere. Family and friends have all commented over the years how they can tell she prefers me.
How Getting a Dog Enhanced my Life
Fast forward through high school, college, finding my first real job, living on my own, meeting Will and so much more, Maddie has been by my side through so many ups and downs. Maddie loves being outside, going on walks and being in the presence of people. She is that dog that will follow you around the house, monitoring you, until you sit down. Maddie also loves (even at 15!) doing sprints around the house upon my arrival home.
Now that Maddie is 15, I have lived more of my life with her than without her. Maddie’s sweet and happy disposition continually gets me through rotten days and reminds me that so often the little details I worry about will not matter in the long run. If you have a dog like Maddie, I think you will understand what I am talking about. Dogs love you and greet you with a smile every day, no matter what. If only more humans (including myself!) could express their love so openly and regularly.
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
Maddie continues to teach me lessons, make me smile and remind what is important in life every day. As she gets older, I can only hope the years I have left with her will bring her the same level of happiness she’s had so far in her life. Now, if only I could find a way to tell her how grateful I am for all the years I have had with her sweet soul!
I would love to hear your pet stories! Is the story of how I got my dog similar to yours? Have you ever had a special connection to a dog or pet? Do I sound like a crazy dog-mom or can you relate to my thoughts?! Tell me exactly how you feel and what you think in the comments section.