In 1996 I bought my first house in Burbank, and as a single guy I decided to add a dog to the mix. That alone was a big thing. I didn't exactly grow up in a family that had a lot of pets. My dad didn't like dogs very much (though strangely, he has one now), and even though we tried a few times to add dogs into our home they never lasted long.
When my sisters brought new guys into the family, they both had big dogs that went with them everywhere. Dan had Sid, who was already getting old when he met Gina, and Travis got Hershey as a puppy while he was still dating Angie. It took a while for me to appreciate having a big dog around all the time, but those were some great pets--more than that, actually. They were parts of the family.
So I went out and got myself a purebred yellow Labrador Retriever. She was beautiful. I named her Maggie, though her papers really said Lady Margaret of Argyll. I took her everywhere--when I'd had her for a week or two I put her in a box with a blanket in the front seat of my car and took her camping at the beach. We went to the mountains, the beach, and to the local park for regular runs. I took her to my softball games and the fans took care of her while I played. She slept on the floor at the foot of my bed.
It's funny. When I decided to get a dog I think Dan and Travis didn't think it would work out. As much as I liked their dogs, I didn't exactly like having them on me. There was even a rumor that they had flipped a coin to see who would take my dog when I got fed up with her.
But that didn't happen.
When Julie and I got married she was a little concerned about having a big dog. But when Ian came along he loved her, and they played together at our house on Reese Place. One time when Ian was a toddler we were having a backyard barbecue. There were plenty of people around, and Ian was in no danger, but still when he walked toward the pool Maggie scooted in front of him and herded him away from the edge. Maggie was a part of our family, and a part of my life for more than 10 years.
Part of taking this job in London meant that we had to find a new home for Maggie. My mom's friend Cynthia loves dogs and already knew Mags, and so she decided to take her for us. She gave Maggie a great home with a big yard and another dog to play with. I've been so grateful to Cynthia for making room in her life for my dog--it's nice to be able to say so in front of all of you.
I'm writing about Maggie today because she died last week. It's been a year and a half since I saw her, but I think about her all the time. Her death hit me harder than I thought it would. Ian and I have both been choked up as we talk about her. We've been having memories of playing with her, of listening to her snore, and just hanging around with her. We've already decided that we want to have a dog again when we move back to Burbank.
So...this is my little tribute to Maggie. I don't have a digital picture of her, though I do have a framed shot of her in my office. Ian was feeling sad this week and made his own little tribute to her. I'll let him have the last words (almost).