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Maggie was my sweet girl. She was a beautiful golden retriever that I had gotten as a puppy. I’ll never forget that day when I reached in that bin filled with puppies and picked her up. She nuzzled her furry head into my neck and her cold nose sprinkled a million tiny kisses. I knew immediately that she was meant for me. I had found my new friend.
It wasn’t long after, though, that I got sick and began a long battle with balance and memory problems. During that time, as Maggie was growing, I began to train her to help me with these ever increasing challenges. She learned to keep me steady when I was about to fall and stood strong when I needed a lift up. I grew to depend on her. She was my strength and I knew that as long as she was by my side, I would be safe. After a few years, my neurological condition was diagnosed and I began my road to recovery. Once I was well, my connection with Maggie continued and our bond grew stronger with every passing day. We did everything together. She was my security and strength.
Then one Christmas, I noticed some bumps on Maggie’s head. Some little bites, I told myself, nothing serious, it’ll go away in a few days. But as the coming days passed, they only grew larger and then began to spread. Filled with fear, I took my sweet friend to Tuft’s Animal Hospital. I’ll never forget that day. Tears fill my eyes now as my memory brings me back to that moment when the doctor came into the room and told me my best friend had cancer and there was no cure. She had, at best, six weeks to live. I was absolutely devastated. My beautiful girl, at only six years old, was dying.
Determined not to let her go after she had given me so much, I began my journey to find answers, looking for hope. It just didn’t seem fair, we were just starting to enjoy our lives together. I knew I had to help her just as she had helped me. With the support of the doctors at Tuft’s any and all available treatments began. We would go weekly for visits for her treatments and I would wait patiently through the day in the waiting room for her to emerge and any word of hope from the doctors. Some weeks were positive and hopeful, others not as much, but I had another day with my Maggie so it was a good day just the same.
During this time I immersed myself in anything and everything I could find, educating myself on health and nutrition for our pets. I called and spoke with experts in the field and took courses to become certified in animal nutrition. I wanted to learn why this happened, how this could have happened to my best friend.
Maggie lost her battle seven months after she was diagnosed. She did well up until the last two days when she became too weak to walk and stand. I set up a room downstairs in my home and that’s where we stayed so going out would be easier and I stayed with her around the clock.
She took her last few breaths while I held her in my arms and whispered over and over that I loved her and thanked her for all that she had done for me.
And so, it is in my sweet Maggie’s memory that I began Healthy Paws Barkery because it was through that battle that I learned the importance of nutrition in our dogs’ lives. Just as it is important that we ourselves eat well and pay attention to the ingredients in our food and snacks, it is the same for our four-legged friends. They are not immune to suffering the ill effects of poor nutritional choices. It may not be the answer to preventing cancer or other health issues, just like our food choices may not necessarily prevent it for us, but it may change the odds.
Healthy Paws is in loving memory of you, Maggie. Hopefully we will continue to help others together by sharing your life story and providing awareness and healthy snacks to other best friends.