By John Villemonte, Minnesota
Maggy was a three-month-old puppy, living in a trailer park with a man who wanted to find a new home for this energetic little dog. As soon as the man opened his trailer’s front door, Maggy darted outside. Even though we were supposedly meeting for the first time, this puppy spent five to ten minutes running in a circle around me. “She has so much energy,” I said.
Maggy finally slowed down, sat by my feet, looked up at me, and panted happily. I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did at that moment. But a love bond instantly sprang up between us. Were we two Souls remembering each other from somewhere else, from another time? In a flash almost too fast for my mind to accept, I only understood at our first meeting that something wonderful was happening. Later, I came to believe that our journey together this lifetime had started that day.
I didn’t know much about German shorthaired pointers. I only hoped Maggy wasn’t a barking dog. Happily, for the first couple of days after I brought her home, she never made a peep. As the days rolled on, it became increasingly evident that Maggy was stealing my heart. Every day, I fell more in love with this little pooch.
After doing research, I found that German shorthairs are bred for hunting and running. Maggy needed to run every day, off-leash, unencumbered, and free. Fortunately, she could do this across the street from where I lived. We were surrounded by acres of rolling prairie grass with beautiful trails. The property where we took our walks overlooked an adjacent lake and had an abundance of wildlife—deer, grouse, pheasant, geese, and wild turkeys.
Walking the Trails
I’m not a hunter, so Maggy never received an ounce of training to be a hunting dog. Yet the instincts of her breed took over as we walked along the trails. On many occasions, nothing would appear unusual to me; there would be no animal in sight. But suddenly Maggy would slow down and start to silently move toward a spot in a field. Ever so slowly, she raised and cocked back the paw on her right foreleg. Her tail straightened out stiffly as she assumed a pointing stance. She held the point for a minute or so, stock-still, then lunged forward into the tall grass.
Whenever Maggy chased some critter through the tall prairie grass, she bounced up with her ears flapping in the air. Because the grass was so high, every time she bounced back down, I could no longer see her. Then all of a sudden her body popped up above the grass again, as if she were springing off a trampoline.
On those occasions, it amazed me when a pheasant, or sometimes a flock of grouse, burst from the long grass, only a few feet from the trail. Maggy would take off in a mad dash, sometimes flushing out even more birds. Her job finished, she would happily prance back to me. The look on her face said, “Hey, Dad, I did good, huh?” In response, I praised and petted her. I think those moments were some of the happiest in her (and my) life.
Once, just before I gave a talk at a seminar, the MC asked me about my dreams and goals. I immediately thought of Maggy and replied, “I want to be as happy and loving as my dog.”
Maggy was a very perceptive Soul and attuned to the energy in our house. If she saw anyone in tears, she put her head on the person’s knee. Whenever I coughed, she checked on me. If I had to cough long and hard, I needed to go outside so Maggy wouldn’t get overly concerned about me.
At one time my wife, Muriel, was spending hours lying on her favorite chaise lounge, recovering from an illness. Maggy lay on top of her, giving pure, divine love. Muriel believes that Maggy’s love played a big part in her healing. My wife’s favorite moments with Maggy were when she laid her head in Muriel’s lap while she knitted and when the two of them watched movies together.
Maggy didn’t like being separated from me for any reason. On a comic note, she never understood what happened when I took a shower. There would be the noise of water running, and I’d disappear behind a curtain. Maggy had to lie down on the bath mat in front of the shower until I finished. Muriel and I called her our shower guard dog.
Signs from Divine Spirit
And then, Maggy became ill. While we waited for her to have an ultrasound test to determine the status of her liver, Muriel and I went to breakfast. We asked Divine Spirit, and Maggy, for a sign to help us decide about our dog’s life. We wanted to see a train (or the word train) if it was her time to go and to see a rose if she could stay with us longer.
After her ultrasound test, we picked up Maggy. Before going home, we stopped at a big discount store for a few items we needed. I went inside while Muriel stayed in the car with Maggy. Near the entrance of this store a row of large-screen television sets were all playing the same program, simultaneously showing a music video. I didn’t pay attention at first, but after walking by the eighth or ninth screen, I focused on the name of the band and the title of the song they played.
The band was Train. The title of the song was “If It’s Love.” So, I thought, There is our sign. My heart sank. I didn’t want to believe it. When I returned to the car and told Muriel, she didn’t want to believe it either. At home, we wondered what to do next. Do we really trust this sign? Was it merely a coincidence?
Then the phone rang. Our veterinarian was calling with the ultrasound test results: Maggy had two cancerous nodes in her liver in inoperable areas. “If you really love Maggy,” he advised, “you would let her pass on this afternoon. The sooner the better.” He explained that Maggy was also showing strokelike symptoms and might have another seizure. When he said this, I immediately knew that letting go was the right thing to do.
Before we drove to the vet, we took Maggy to favorite places where she loved to walk and run—the prairie trail, a neighborhood pond, fields, and forests. As we drove, we noticed that although it had been gray and gloomy all week, the sun had finally come out. By the time we arrived at our destination, rays shone brightly in our car.
I went into the vet’s office to see if they were ready for Maggy. When I returned, Muriel said, “While you were gone, a sunbeam landed on Maggy’s face.” We smiled at this blessing. Maggy always loved to lie on the chaise lounge, in a west-facing room, sunbathing and soaking up sunlight as it streamed through the windows.
After Maggy passed, we drove home. I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of us. It read, “Wag more, bark less.” Muriel and I laughed through our tears, convinced that this was Maggy’s message. It was what she had tried to teach us for nearly twelve years—to simply love more.
Though Maggy’s passing was painful, we felt the hand of Spirit throughout the experience. Its guidance helped us through this difficult time. Thinking back on my experience at the big discount store, I realized its impeccable timing. A song usually plays for about three or four minutes. I could have easily walked into the store four minutes earlier or later and missed the “train” sign we had asked to receive as confirmation that it was truly time for Maggy to go. But that’s not what happened.
We are acutely aware of Maggy’s physical absence in our home. And yet we feel this Soul’s love as if she were in another room, sleeping. Her presence is subtle, but enormous. Muriel says, “It’s like God suddenly moved out and left no forwarding address.” To this day, I still find myself suppressing my coughs. Then I realize Maggy’s not here anymore to be concerned about my health.
Maggy taught so many things about unconditional love, devotion, selflessness, service, the joy of living, forgiveness, and the importance of family. The list of her gifts goes on and on. Sharing our home with her was like having a life teacher with us all the time.
We have since been comforted with spiritual experiences in dreams and contemplations where we see Maggy in her new arena of life. She is happy, running like a puppy again. As we heal, we hold these times of connection with her close to our hearts. We give her all our love.
—Photo by John Villemonte