Macky’s Gift

MacGregor’s Gift

Sometimes the smallest things yield the greatest treasures. My little black Shiz-poo, MacGregor weighed only eleven pounds, but he filled my life with companionship and joy. He taught me a great deal about fully experiencing the cycles of life. I gather wisdom where I find it and this holiday season it grew as I attempted to nurse Macky back to health. I offer my thoughts to you as a gift from a little black dog named MacGregor.

* * * * * *

MacGregor always accepted his responsibilities as “top dog” fully and without hesitation. Hearing activity outside the apartment, he would become “supreme guardian” — barking so furiously that his body lifted slightly off the ground with each powerful “ARF”. Then he’d roll his big brown eyes at me awaiting further orders. My stern “off” meant that’s enough and “good boy” assured a job well done. At times he felt the need to bark more and although he tried to contain himself, irrepressible “woofs” escaped despite his best efforts. His sideways glance assured me that even though I said to stop, since he was supreme guardian, he knew best.

Macky never seemed to think of himself as small. When he was 5 months old I brought Robbie, a white Bichon Frise, home to keep him company. As they grew up together it seemed that Macky was shrinking. Actually, Robbie was just getting bigger as he headed for his “ideal weight” of 25 pounds while Macky topped off at 11 pounds but there was never any doubt about who was “top dog”. MacGregor would diligently groom Robbie’s face, carefully licking his eyes and ears while Robbie sighed with contentment. Macky knew that as an older brother it was his job to take part in Robbie’s care and he did so with great tenderness.

On our walks, Macky would hike along with a bounce in his step. He and Robbie walked with me outside in North Dakota even in the winter. Insulated booties and jackets kept them warm as we tromped through snowdrifts and negotiated icy sidewalks. During the past two years we walked around a neighborhood lake, through mountain canyons and across sandy beaches in Southern California. Every place we went, Macky and Robbie met new dogs and people and made good friends. No matter how big the other dogs were, MacGregor saw himself as equal to them in size and determination. And so did they.

Macky and Robbie saw a great deal of the United States and shared many adventures. They bounced along in a Ryder Truck and rode shotgun in my Ford Tempo back and forth from North Dakota to California. They sailed in a Catamaran, swam in Minnesota Lakes and Lake Mead, hiked in the Grand Canyon, and dashed through salty Pacific waves. Through it all, MacGregor led the way with his head held high, straining for a good view of the future.

MacGregor took life very seriously. He knew his responsibilities, much of which he defined, and he let nothing interfere with the performance of his duties. Even when he fought the last battle of his internal war, Macky carried on as top dog. After two blood transfusions, multiple blood draws, a bone marrow biopsy and two rescues from certain death, MacGregor met his future with determined stubbornness.

* * * * * *

A few days before Christmas, with the house and patio softened in candle light, I sat in the rocking chair with Macky resting against my chest. I remembered how he had nestled against me the same way as a tiny puppy. At that time he would sleep so soundly I worried that he had stopped breathing. Now, as his head rested on my heart, I knew that he would leave us soon, despite the love that surrounded him and the fine medical attention he had received.

This was Macky’s special day, a time to remind him of how much he was cherished. Friends stopped by, some with their dogs, to say farewell to MacGregor. They offered their love, kind words, and hopes for a miracle during the night. After all, it was the season of miracles. Surely MacGregor deserved a miracle – he was too young, too sweet, too Macky just to disappear from our lives. We drank wine and shared stories about the dogs in our lives; we laughed, cried, and hugged one another. The dogs got their tummies scratched and their heads rubbed and we all got doggy kisses.

* * * * * *

On the morning of the winter solstice I carried MacGregor outside early in the morning to look at the waning moon. It was the closest to the earth in over 100 years and was incredibly bright even as it neared the horizon. I told Macky this was a special time since the paths of the moon and earth brought us so close to one another. It was peaceful to feel the warmth of his breath against my cheek. There were no cars or people, just Macky and me in the stillness of the cool morning air.

* * * * * *

I had Macky in my life for four years and he taught me many things. He showed me how important it is to care faithfully for those you love; to set fair boundaries and communicate them clearly (and loudly if necessary); to be open to new experiences and friendships; and to respond to others with affection whenever possible. But above all, never ever under any circumstance, think of yourself as smaller than someone else because if you take yourself seriously others will too.

MacGregor spoke the language of love that connects all of us with hope. For such a little dog, he touched many lives. Macky’s greatest gift was himself and that was his miracle. He was a lot bigger than his size. I and many others, will always remember MacGregor as the small black dog with a huge heart.

© Karen D. Devers, 2011

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