What would I do with her when I traveled? This was clearly a mistake, even temporarily. "OK," I told her, "We'll make the best of this, but don't think you're staying here."
The next few days proved promising. She took well to walking on a leash and there was not one housetraining mishap. She seemed to know what was expected of her. And those soulful eyes, much like an orphan looking for someone to love, seemed to plead, "Don't send me away."
A week later, I called Cheryl again, to let her know that the dog had found a home. I called her Maggie.
For the next few years I would benefit from Maggie's unconditional friendship. There is no joy like the reception of a wagging tail when you come home at the end of the day. There is no peace like the feeling of a dog with its head on your feet when you're relaxing in a chair. Maggie and I became the best of friends. I came to love her dearly.
I retired in 2011, and for a long time thereafter it was just Maggie and me, walking in the park, taking rides in the car and hanging out. Then in November, I noticed Maggie didn't seem to be feeling well.
Although a cancerous tumor had been removed from her leg 18 months earlier, the cancer had returned and spread. With her head resting on my foot, as she had done so many times before, she was euthanized.
Heartbreak again. But this time it was different.
Maggie had taught me that closing your heart to caring is not living. It did not escape me that Maggie's entrance into my life six years ago was a unique gift at a time when my heart was hardened and I was still in the grips of grief and loss. I truly believe God brings angels into our lives when we most need them. And mine came that July with a coat of black fur.
Deborah Lovely lives in South Charleston. She may be emailed at d_lov...@hotmail.com.