It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of Maggie, beloved First Mate. She is survived by her human companions, Nancy and Ron. She succumbed to a malignant hemangiosarcoma, which is apparently common in older Labradors. Her death was totally unexpected, she had just completed a full recovery from biceps tendon surgery and was bouncing around like a puppy. Her illness was fortunately very short, less than 2 weeks from our first noticing her increasing tiredness to the final diagnosis. At no time was her appetite affected (she was a Labrador after all) and she was in no pain.
Maggie, like Tristan, came to us as a young puppy. Unlike Tristan, she had a cold when she arrived, so her first few weeks were spent snorting, spraying and otherwise carrying on. In what was to become a Maggie trademark, she ate everything that wasn't nailed down and proceeded through life apparently unaffected by her illness. Nancy and Ron, on the other hand, wondered if she would ever get better or we were destined for years of sneezing and wheezing. Actually it turned out that Maggie was always to be a "sinus" dog, she sneezed frequently throughout her life and was an inveterate snorer. Her snoring is one of the things Nancy most remembers about Maggie; whenever Nancy woke in the night she always knew all was well from Maggie's loud sustained rumbling from somewhere nearby.
Maggie's early affliction seemed to affect her growth. She was a small Labrador, only 60 pounds in weight, and short in stature, yet she had full size paws and a large tail. She was so short in fact that everyone who met her thought she was a puppy, even in her 12th year. She also had a puppy's personality, endlessly optimistic and always happy. Unlike Tristan, she was also very obedient, she was a big believer in "when in doubt, sit" and was quite happy to lay down on the dock while waiting for Nancy to finish a conversation. She never wandered, always came when she was called and was a truly champion tennis ball retriever.
Back to her early days. When Tristan first came to live with us, his world revolved around us. Maggie, on the other hand, worshipped Tristan and ignored us. We actually found it hard to get her attention, except with food, for her training. Frankly she didn't need much training, she only had to be told something once and she never forgot. That didn't mean she didn't misbehave, she did, she just clearly knew it was misbehaving and never did it unless we were nowhere around. This is in strong contrast to Tristan, who was forever needing remedial instruction in some command or other. Until she was over a year old, Maggie slavishly followed Tristan everywhere, but gradually she developed her own behaviors and personality.
Maggie was a very focused dog. She was always watching to see what everyone did. She maintained eye contact, never wandered off and always worried about the "pack", namely Tristan, Ron and Nancy. If one member of the pack was not present, Maggie looked everywhere until they were found. She would gaze anxiously at Ron as he surveyed an anchorage in the dinghy, while Tristan, once he figured out he wasn't going in the dinghy, went to sleep. Maggie was also a cautious dog. She never bolted food held out to her, she would eat literally anything, but only after she smelled it first. She was delicate, she didn't usually grab (unlike Tristan who once swallowed an entire ice cream cone from a little boy's hand one memorable morning in Annapolis) and she was polite, waiting until dinner was over before getting up and rustling about in the kitchen waiting for someone to put a plate down for her to clean.
Maggie had her reckless moments however. One special day she rushed out of our house in Potomac (before we moved aboard the boat) and ran straight into a tree branch, opening a large cut under her eye. It bled like mad, but Dr. Ron stanched the flow, patched it, fed her and put her back in her crate to recover. When Nancy let her out later in the day, she rushed out the door again and was promptly stung on the paw by a bee. Her paw swelled to huge proportions, she had to take Benadryl and she spent the afternoon in her crate recuperating again. She once even managed to get entangled in the mice traps in our garage. The traps were sticky and Maggie, ever curious, got one stuck on her hind foot. She then tried to bite it off, ending up with it, and her rear paw, stuck to the side of her head. Extraction required considerable hair trimming, but she held quite still for it all.
Throughout her life Maggie made friends. Everywhere we went everyone stopped to say Hello. No where was this more true than when we moved to Tahoe. After Maggie's biceps surgery, she had a rather odd haircut, with most of the hair on her left side missing. Nancy bought her a blue and white argyle sweater, to keep her warm during the Tahoe winter. In this garment, she could literally stop traffic. One day, in the interests of broadening her horizons, Nancy and Ron took Maggie to Squaw Valley, an upscale resort (and home to the '68 Winter Olympics) near our home. Maggie paraded about the resort, endlessly stopped and petted by a line of cooing admirers, all of whom just "loved the argyle sweater". Maggie, on the other hand, didn't like the sweater much as it slid down around her feet. One morning Nancy even found her trussed up in it like a Christmas goose and none too happy about it. But the sweater served it's purpose while her hair grew back.
Maggie was always happy, regardless of the circumstances. She could truly make lemonade from lemons, as they say. One day we took her for a walk at Wye Island on the Chesapeake Bay. With us were our good friends Fred and Nancy, from the trawler Diligence. Fred and Nancy had also had a Maggie, a golden retriever since gone to her great reward, and they were surrogate parents to our Maggie throughout our times together. On this day we four and our Maggie set off, despite the overcast weather, to stretch our legs. It had been raining a lot the past few days so the track was muddy and the ditches beside the road were awash. Maggie, upon noticing this, charged straight in and spent the entire walk running in the ditches, throwing up great sheets of spray in all directions. Every now and again, she would stop to look back and make sure this behavior was still acceptable and that we were all following along. Fred, in particular, was entranced by this care free behavior and has often commented on how much she seemed to be enjoying herself, despite the conditions. This was Maggie all over, life was always good, regardless.
There are many many Maggie stories. But in the end, her most memorable legacy is her sweetness. Everyone who knew her, even in passing, commented on her wonderful personality. She truly loved life, every day. Those of us left behind will forever remember all the joy she brought us, and we will try not to be sad at her passing, as she would not approve.