She was just a little pup when I first saw her - shaggy, dirty, a curly mess with mostly hidden eyes. She introduced herself by leaping into my lap, and giving me her tummy to rub. In many ways, it was love at first sight. Well, for her at least - she was immediately devoted, affectionate -- at home in my presence, comforted by my touch. Me? I'd never wanted a pet, never thought I could have one [asthmatic, I - allergic to EVERYthing]. I'd allowed my kids to have dogs... but they were OUTside dogs, and I had little or nothing to do with them. But my wife Lucky WAS/IS a pet person. She had given up three cats to marry me ... and she needed that "hole" in her life filled. I decided to give it a go... thinking it a temporary thing. After all, my allergies would have me in the ER in a few days... A few weeks later, a second ER visit, and ... good-bye new pet. That simple. She wasn't a solution to me... merely a problem. For me, NOT having a pet simply wasn't a 'hole' I knew I had.
We started a bit roughly - she snapped at me the first evening as I tried to move her from her comfortable spot on the couch - asleep - to her cage in the bedroom. And I... was slightly more than put out by such behavior. "I" was seeing the event from my perspective -- ignoring she was a no-doubt confused, rudely awakened, slightly threatened by unfamiliar places and people, dog -- reacting normally in that situation [this realization took a few months]. For now, it was simply "strike one." A day later our little lady seemed lethargic after lunch, and later she threw up outside in the yard. She didn't seem to have an appetite, and wasn't interested in a "walk." Lucky said, "something's wrong."
The next morning she seemed worse - no energy, no interest in food... and Lucky announced, "I'm taking her to the vet." I drove them over, and 25 minutes later Lucky came back to the car, looking anguished. "The vet says it's Parvo - and says she has to go to the pet hospital -- NOW!" I said, "let's go!", and within minutes we were on our way to the nearest pet hospital. Lucky said, "The vet warned me that little ones often don't recover." Lucky was in the hospital nearly an hour getting her into treatment. I stayed in the car - as vet offices and high density pet locations give me asthma - but when she came out she looked more optimistic. "They took her in right away, and have her on IV's to help her dehydration, and are starting her on antibiotics." She went on to explain that Parvo was much like cholera -- that animals would literally vomit and defecate themselves to death. I said," Let's hope for the best", and gave her a long hug.
The next three days were beyond difficult. Our little lady was showing no progress, and was very uncomfortable and scared in her treatment cubicle. Lucky would return from a visit in tears. "I have to put on a sterile gown and mask to see her. I can't hold her, she has IV's in every limb. She's shaking she's so scared. And no -- there's no progress. The best they can say is, 'at least she's not getting worse.'" We spent a miserable evening, and as the time passed, I began thinking about this dog I barely knew. She had shown herself unique -- she rarely barked, and was never 'yippy.' She was playful and affectionate, and I hadn't had a single moment of 'asthma' around her. Maybe I could have come to accept - even enjoy this little girl. But her condition was terrible, and she was suffering. Lucky and I talked later, and I asked her if it was cruel for us to maintain treatment if it left her so miserable and afraid. "I can't stand to see her like she is," she said, and we agreed to call the hospital in the morning, and have her put down - with us with her - if there was still no improvement.
The next morning, I called and asked about our little pup's condition. "We have good news!" I heard. "She ate for the first time around midnight, and she still hasn't shown any sign of nausea." I asked if they thought she might be released, but was cautioned not to expect too much, too soon. "We'll call you later today with an update." Lucky was so relieved when I gave her the news... but we still had the warning against high expectations. We spent the next few hours in anxious anticipation. Then, just at 1 p.m., the phone rang. Lucky answered, talked a moment, hung up, and came running into the room, excitement and delight all over her face. "They said 'Come and get her!'" We laughed, hugged, and raced off to get her. On the way there, we realized we still hadn't named our little lady. "What," I asked, "should we call her?" Lucky thought a few moments, and looked over and said, "How about Magic? It's magical that she's even alive. Her effect on me has been wonderful - and seeing the change in you -- is just amazing. I think it just fits." And I laughed, and agreed. A few minutes later Lucky came out of the hospital with Magic, and she jumped across the seat to greet me. I said, "Hello Magic! Welcome home!", and have felt that way about her ever since.
Today, years later, I still am humbled and amazed that such a splendid creature so inexplicably appeared in our lives. Lucky and I look back and shake our heads at how fortunate we are. Some say, "but she's a 'rescue animal'", and I've leaned to reply with the truth a bumper sticker asks, "Who rescued who?" When we took her to 'training', a very experienced, very 'dog aware' woman told me, "I've never seen a dog like her. She's so calm, and never acts aggressively. She just gets in her 'frog' pose, and watches other dogs act poorly. And she's so quiet... remarkable." Friends and neighbors immediately fall under her spell -- so much so that our dear friend/neighbor Stephani, who kept her while we travelled, told us, "It's hard for me to bring her back, I love her so much!" And as her training progressed, we began to realize the effect Magic was having on me... I was simply a more relaxed, happier man. I had been diagnosed decades before with P.T.S.D., a result of the emotional trauma of multiple serious surgeries while very young, removal from family at distant hospitals, and the bullying and mockery children and adolescents heap upon those with obvious "differences." With Magic, those symptoms subsided. A lifetime of nightmares and startled, terrified awakenings shifted slowly to nights of restful sleep. The effect on me was ... yes, Magical.
I know this is 'my' blog... but today I write about a force, entity, ethereal presence -- all clumsy terms -- that a small creature, barely 11 pounds of her, has on my experience of living. She has shifted in so many ways my perception of myself, of my place in my family, my social group, my society at large. This little one has taught me -- how to be a different "me." And I am a better man for that.
< Magic on our roof helping me take sunset photos.
< Magic visiting a Senior Citizen's
group - where she's loved by all.