It was an average day in June of 2007 when I met a dog named Brandy. I’d been at work when I received a call that there was a one-year-old Black Lab mix that was in a kill shelter a little over an hour from where I lived. A rescue group was working tirelessly to find her a foster family so she wouldn’t be put to sleep. Having worked with rescue groups most of my life, I understood the need and the desperation. Large, black dogs tend to be the last to get adopted. Brandy was living on borrowed time.
Being newly married with no kids and a husband away on a week-long trip, I decided to bring her home with me. I was bored and needed a project, and training a rescue fit the bill for me. I figured I could clean her up, do some basic house-training, and get her adopted before my husband came home. That didn’t happen.
Brandy stayed with us for almost a month before a call came in that someone was interested in her. By that time, she’d wiggled her way right into our little family. She’d even managed to get a spot in our bed. So we said no, paid the adoption fee, and changed her name to Addison. I called her McGee, just to be difficult.
Addison was a good dog, super smart, but she was a typical young Lab. She got into trouble. I once came home and wondered how it could have possibly snowed inside my apartment only to find out Addison had chewed a hole in our duvet and dragged the stuffing all over the place. She ate my favorite red pumps and peed on my favorite rug. She left weird lick spots on our couch. And yet, she was the best dog.
Addison was a gentle soul, kind and loving. She guarded my babies like a second mother, even shoving between a baby Mini and her great aunt one weekend. Apparently great aunts weren’t allowed to hold her new baby. When we moved out of our apartment and into a house, we picked the one with the biggest yard. “Think of how much Addison can run,” my husband said over and over as I lamented how much work the house needed. The large yard won out, but Addison couldn’t run too much. Arthritis in her hips took that particular joy away, not that she seemed to mind. She still loped after the kids and made sure they were safe or spent the afternoon lounging in the sun. I called her lion dog, and she rolled around scratching her back on the grass.
I’ve seen my dog be pounced on by a toddler and do nothing but give me the “help me out here” eyes. I’ve seen her snarl and bark like the attack dog I knew she could be when someone walked too close to our fence while our babies were playing in the yard. I’ve seen her charm someone terrified of dogs into giving her treats and head pats.
And this morning. I saw the light drain out of her eyes as she let me know that her time had come. But I’m stubborn, see. I never give up without a fight. So I hauled her into my car with the help from a neighbor and raced the almot-hour south to the vet only to find out she’d passed on the way. Damn dog had gotten me to give her one last car ride, something she loved.
Addison McGee was my beloved dog, my first baby, and I will miss her with every ounce of my heart. My husband wasn’t in town when I brought her home, and he wasn’t in town when she left us…talk about coming full circle. Blessings to all the furbabies out there, especially the rescues who seem to have so much love to give if they could just find their forever homes.
Thanks for being such a great friend and partner, Addison MGee. I’ll see you when I see you.