Maddie, aka Miss Madeline Tanglefoot, aka Maddie Kloos, aka Maddie Adams, was euthanized today following a long decline. Her love of the outdoors, treats, and cats will be deeply missed.
Maddie came into my life in August of 1997, the day after we had had my former partner’s 14-year-old German Shepherd put down. I was enjoying a few weeks of unemployment before beginning graduate school, and we’d talked about getting a puppy, since my schedule was more flexible. Instead, I received a phone call in the early afternoon. It seems there was a stray dog wandering around JK’s place of employment, and JK’s coworkers claimed it was a sign.
I said it was more likely a sign that they worked next door to the Humane Society. But of course I came to get the dog. She was underweight and flea-bitten, and I quickly discovered that she was dog aggressive. She also barked when the car was in motion, which was particularly deafening since I drove a Geo Metro.
And yet. She was sweet and good-natured, loved cats and tolerated children. We invented a history for her, based on a few clues: she became anxious if she smelled alcohol on your breath, gunshots or similar noises frightened her (we lived in a small town in the country), and she was alarmed by the rattle of old pickup trucks.
Maddie graduated top of her obedience class, thanks to the introduction of a pinch collar and the absence of her German Shepherd puppy classmate (who probably emerged from the womb knowing how to complete a "long down"). We never did do a very good job of curing the dog aggression, which is my greatest regret, since it limited her ability to socialize.
However, she enjoyed walks, particularly in Hovander Park and, after we moved to New York state, the nearby nature preserve, where spotting rabbits and beaver brought her great joy. She developed some chronic health problems, including skin troubles, low thyroid, and allergies, but responded well to treatment. In the last few years, she developed arthritis, which worsened significantly over the past several months. In addition, she began a year ago to exhibit signs of paralysis in her hindquarters.
In her old age, she finally had a dog friend in little Zoe, perhaps because she saw her as more of a puppy/cat, and even this morning was able to play a bit. Unfortunately, despite her mental clarity, her body was extremely tired, and she was in constant pain. So I made the difficult decision to have her put down now, rather than waiting a few more weeks, when she would be unable to stand up at all.
Special thanks go to the GF, who insisted on taking the day off to be with me through all of this, and to Maddie’s dog walker E, who’s been a godsend the past few months, and to her vets from the past several years who gave her such wonderful care. Right now, I want to believe in an afterlife, in which Maddie is running freely through the nature preserve, her kitties by her side, lots of good things to sniff. Just a reminder: toads taste icky, so don’t pick them up again.