Oh, Miss Maple D!
Maple was our very first rescued dog. I found her in Buckhead on Maple St (this became the name theme for the first three dogs) on my way to class when I was in college. She was living in a construction site and the workers were feeding her their lunch leftovers. Each day when I would park my car on the street, she would approach the fence and walk with me along the sidewalk inside her side of the fence. I could not stop thinking about her. She never left this chain link fenced area, though she was free to leave. She had clearly had puppies and was socialized to people. Within a few days I found a rescue group that would take her so I went to scoop her up. First, a trip to Petsmart for supplies and when I pulled up she easily got in my car but then rode frozen on the floor in the backseat the rest of the way to our apartment.
Jake and I took her to the rescue group together. There must’ve been 40 or 50 dogs in pens and runs on the property. I swear a 1/3 of them were black and tan mutts. We did not feel good about it and obviously we did not leave her there. We thought she would be doomed to a kennel or run for months or years. Instead, Jake took her to work with him each day and one of the staff expressed interest in adopting her. She was going to name her Sunny (you’ll see the irony after about 10 more animals are featured). Jake called me one night and told me this, we were not a fan of the name choice. He then said to me, “So, what do you want to name her?” That was it, we were not going back. So, Maple became her name along with a bazillion nicknames, but mostly we called her, Maple D pronounced “Mop Lay D”, The D was just for dog, Maple dog!
Maple was the perfect dog, literally. We never crate trained her, she learned quickly at obedience class and soon earned off leash privileges, she never destroyed anything in the home, and we easily trusted her to be loose in the house with the cats probably too soon, but it turned out just fine. She was like Lassie in a little hound dog mix. We even agility trained her and our other dogs and they did all kinds of cool stuff.
Maple D came with us everywhere, friend’s houses, family vacations, she was always welcome because she was just so well behaved. She accepted all our new dogs as they joined the family and was always the matriarch. She could walk up to one of our big boys and take their bones right out of their mouth and start chewing on them! They would just be dumbfounded by this and let it happen.
Adopting a dog was part of the impetus for buying this house. We already had five cats when Maple came along so we were growing out of our apartment quickly and wanted a yard and screen porch. I’ll never forget that moving day was also her advanced obedience exam. She passed with flying colors and to celebrate we walked down to the park and back completely off leash. I was so proud. I had always wanted a well-trained dog and our efforts paid off.
Around age 15 she woke one morning and could only use one of her four legs. After a trip to the surgeon, we discovered she had a herniated disc. The choice was surgery or euthanasia. We chose surgery and she survived almost another 2 years! She went everywhere with me towards the end. She was my little egg and came to work with me most days for round the clock nursing care.
I had wanted a big dog; Maple was not big. Sometimes good things do come in small packages. Maple was with us through thick and thin and was nearly 17 years old when she passed. Two more dogs came and passed, and she outlived them both. She knew so many of our cats, our friends and family loved her, she was a celebrity in our circles. Sometimes some of them are just so special that they are hard to talk about. I never did some of the same memorial things that I have done for so many of the others. I just found it difficult to memorialize her life in a way that felt acceptable, so I have kept her to myself.
Maple, thank you so much. For teaching me so much about life, love, and friendship. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes what you think you “want” is not always what you end up with and that is just fine, often better. I do not think I appreciated your perfection as I should have while you were young and healthy and still here with us and for that I am sorry. I hope you had fun with us. We certainly loved you to pieces.