By Jerry Zezima
There is nothing grander than being a grandparent, especially if your grandchildren are as grand as mine.
That is true of Chloe, Lilly and Xavier, who run, walk and toddle about on two legs.
It also was true of Maggie, who scampered about on four legs, balanced by a tail on one end and an eating machine on the other.
Our younger daughter, Lauren, who is Chloe and Lilly’s mommy, was Maggie’s mommy, too. My wife, Sue, and I were Maggie’s grandparents.
Now our family is a lot less fun and much quieter because Maggie, a whippet mix with a big personality and a voice to match, died recently at the age of 13.
The first thing Lauren did when she moved out of the house, officially making Sue and me empty nesters, was to get a dog. She chose a 7-month-old black and white bundle of energy she named Maggie May, after the Rod Stewart song, though Sue also called her Margaret, or Marge, or Margie, or Madge, or Mags, or some variation thereof.
Whatever the moniker, Maggie was Lauren’s first baby.
When Lauren met her future husband, Guillaume, Maggie accepted him right away, which said volumes because Maggie wasn’t overly fond of guys of the human species, though I was an exception, too, because Maggie instinctively knew, don’t ask me how, that her grandfather was an easy touch.
One of the reasons Lauren and Guillaume were such a great match was that, as Lauren later said, “I couldn’t marry somebody my dog didn’t like.”
When Lauren was expecting Chloe, we all worried how Maggie would accept the baby. She could be territorial and jealous, but she was nothing but loving and protective when Chloe arrived. They were pals from the start, a big sister who barked and a little sister who giggled. It was play time all the time.
Due to complicated circumstances involving a house rental, Maggie lived with Sue and me the past two years, though she often saw Lauren, Chloe, Lilly and Guillaume and loved every minute of being with all of us. She especially loved Lauren and knew she was, after all, still her mommy’s dog.
And she loved Sue and the girls, who loved her right back.
It may be true that every dog has its day, but not a day went by that I didn’t think there was no dog with a bigger appetite for life, as well as food of all kinds, than Maggie.
Joey Chestnut, the human vacuum cleaner who sucks down scores of wieners each year in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, eats like a bird compared to Maggie.
We could have fed Maggie an ox and she would have wolfed it down in about two minutes. But if Sue and I sat down to dinner immediately thereafter, Maggie would stand at the table, still hungry and begging for more.
She ate so much that I feared she would explode like a canine Hindenburg, prompting me to exclaim, “Oh, the animality!”
Nonetheless, she was fussy. She would eat dry dog food only if every other source of nourishment on the planet shriveled up. She liked the treats and hearty meals that Sue gave to her on what seemed like an hourly basis. But Maggie, who was plump but not fat, sometimes got tired of one thing, which forced Sue to switch to something else. I thought Maggie should have gone to the supermarket with Sue so she could pick out what she wanted to eat that week.
Naturally, Sue would have to buy the groceries because Maggie didn’t have a paying job. But she did earn her keep by being our auxiliary alarm system. That’s because Maggie liked to bark. And she did, often relentlessly, if someone came to the door, or a repairman entered the house, or a squirrel scampered by, or a leaf blew past the window.
It made me wonder why dogs never get laryngitis.
But Sue and I felt secure with Maggie around.
As she got older, she had her physical challenges. We are indebted to the good folks at Jefferson Animal Hospital for taking such wonderful care of her.
The end came suddenly. Now there is a void in our house and in our hearts.
Rest well, good girl. Eat well, too. In doggy heaven, you’ll never go hungry.
Copyright 2018 by Jerry Zezima