It seems most fairytales and classic stories begin with a maiden in distress, and this one is no different. A woman who enjoys a clean, organized house has got to come to terms with what it means to own a fur sheddin’, water-lovin’, four legged animal. See, maiden in distress.
Part One: Woman Meets Dog
Not to be confused with a Southern belle, I’m a Southern woman at heart. Strong willed, slang talking, brave as a goose flying into a thunderstorm, never to forget my manners, kind of lady. The kind of woman who when she sees something, she pursues it with every ounce of her being. When my eyes first met that dog with the most stunning coat of white fur you’d ever seen, and a personality as loyal as the day is long, I was in love. A love that was drippin’ like honey fresh off the comb, rich in devotion, and willing to put in the work. Remember that relentless pursuit of the things she loves? Well, enough said, I think.
Part Two: Woman Adopts Puppy
We adopted our first golden retriever in 2017, and haven’t stopped welcoming additional goldens into the house ever since. Beauregard was the quiet, old soul in the litter of puppies, sitting off to the side observing with his rugged green collar marking his place in the line of puppies. When picked up, he snuggled into your neck like a perfect pair of pearls, ready to please anyone who looked his way. Beauregard became the new family baby that day, adopted into our maddening chaos of four children and an ever-revolving extra curricular calendar. Beauregard adjusted quickly, seemed to instantly comprehend potty-training, and rotated sleeping shifts amongst the childrens’ bedrooms. He was perfect in so many ways, Beauregard. So much so that we adopted a companion for him. And learned not all good dogs are born that way. Some must give you a run for your money before the two of you shake hands and agree to live simultaneously under the same roof.
Part Three: Woman Learns The Hard Way
She was dropped off in the night from a Mercedes Sprinter van as the breeder passed through our town on the way to a puppy drop off for another family. For months we looked back and believed she was the result of our poor decision making after a bottle of wine, a late night internet search, and a faulty belief that all golden retrievers were like Beauregard. But nonetheless, we loved her. We named her Magnolia, alternatively Maggie, Mags, or Maggie Jean if you ask my husband, who has a thing for nicknames. Maggie took nine months to potty train, had a chewing habit much like an old relative on the tobacco farm, and pulled when walking on a leash as tough as a mule pulling a plow across a crop field. Strong, stubborn, bull-headed, and beautiful, she was. But Maggie earned her way into my heart. We’re quite similar, Maggie and I, and maybe that’s why she’s now grown up to be devoted and observant, managing a perfect balance between love, playfulness, and protection of our family.
Part Four: Puppy Theft
No, folks, the puppy isn’t taken by the thief. It’s the other way around, really. Puppies have this way of stealing your heart… and your sanity. One minute they’re snuggling in your lap, cooing those irresistible infant sounds, and the next they’re terrorizing your house, scratching floors, chewing table legs, and having accidents as you’re busy attempting Grandma’s unmeasured recipe. Fur tumbleweeds roll across the floor daily and scratches on the furniture seem to appear mysteriously. But with each marked vandalism on your furniture, a memory is carved into our life story much like a child’s growth chart carved into the door molding. And slowly, the fixer upper house you bought with the dreams of transforming becomes the place you retreat to, the place you invite your closest friends to share stories in, and the centrality of new memories created during Sunday suppers and holiday traditions.
Despite a house marred with puppy prints, I consider Maggie a foundational element of turning our house into a home. She’s a buddy to watch sappy movies with. A shoulder to cry on when things don’t go quite right. A friend when you feel alone. An exercise partner when the rest of the family doesn’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. The puppy wasn’t stolen. Instead, it was my heart. A heart with heavy scars at times, but just the same, a heart that understood Maggie to her core. Soul sisters, we are. Bless your heart, Maggie, ‘cause you’ve sure stolen mine.