MADDY: 2008-2012: Wonderment, Joy, Optimism, Unqualified Love For Humanity

Dear Readers,

My beloved Maddy died Friday. She’d been sick for three weeks. Maddy turned four on April 1 — the birthdate I assigned her. I don’t really know when Maddy actually was born. She was a shelter puppy, a gift from God presented to me by my worried family during some of the most challenging times of my life.

Maddy made me healthier.


Maddy: Wonderment, joy, optimism, unqualified love for humanity.

Maddy became my joy when joy was something in short supply. I cannot recall a time in the past four years when she was more than, say, 8 feet away from me. She was with me from the beginning of my coverage of the AdSurfDaily case, often in my lap as I wrote — at other times, on the floor under my desk. If she did venture from my office, it was to a landing area at the top of the steps that led downstairs. She’d position herself on the floor in such a way that she could keep her eyes both on me and on two small windows in the front door at the bottom of the steps.

From her position on the floor, she’d let me know if she saw, say, a lone jogger or the entire high school cross-country team. There were different signals for each, different displays of animation and unbridled joy. A lone jogger or dog-walker outside prompted Maddy to give me the “I’d-like-to-go-outside-and-play-with-them” look.

It was if she were asking this question: “Can I please go outside and show that person how much I love them?”

The cross-country (or track) teams would prompt the “I-absolutely-MUST-go-outside-to-play-with-them” look. It was as though she were saying this: “The more people I see, the more of my love for people I can share.”

Here is a sentence I uttered a thousand times to Maddy: “Do you see someone you love?”

The answer always was yes. She did not have to know them to love them. It’s what I loved most about Maddy.

Maddy loved the cable guy. She loved the man who read the electric meter. She loved the letter-carrier, whether the regular carrier or the occasional substitute. She always thought that every person she saw — be they on the street or at the door — had come to see her. And she wanted to reward them for coming to see her by displaying her return affection. Maddy’s joy was both infectious and inimitable, her unique signature.

I saw it as proof of God, proof that life was not some kind of cosmic or protoplasmic accident.

Through the simple act of being herself, Maddy created a story an hour, on some days a story a minute. This is one of many stories that will live with me for the ages.

A man with a small farm and four cows lived down the road. Maddy believed the cows were her friends. I’d take Maddy on walks just so she could see the cows through the fence. The look on her face when he encountered them is one I’ll never forget. It was a look of overwhelmingly joyous curiosity: She just knew she loved them — and that they’d love her, too, if only she could get closer to them.

An amazing thing happened one day, something that created a lifetime memory for both Maddy and me.

I was at the stove preparing dinner; Maddy was behind me a foot away, peering through the kitchen window. Maddy became extremely animated in her signature way.

“Track team,” I thought.

But the animation endured for minutes, long after even the team stragglers would have vanished from Maddy’s view. By now, Maddy was practically beside herself with excitement — and so I turned around and joined her at the window.

That’s when I saw one of the neighbor’s cows in the side yard, only feet away, completely unconcerned about Maddy. It was an incongruous scene to be sure, evidence that the farmer down the road had a hole in the fence — and perhaps evidence that he had lost his entire small herd and had a significant problem on his hands.

Nothing about the situation was problematic to Maddy, of course. Her eyes and the look on her face told me that she just had to get outside to bond with this 1,500-pound animal, that she just had to share her joy with yet another friend who’d stopped by to visit her. This I could not permit, not even for Maddy. Now at her full adult weight, she was all of 20 pounds. Even if the cow were completely docile — even if its brain cued it not to be afraid of Maddy and not to display any aggression whatsoever toward Maddy — one misstep by the cow could have crushed her.

What I decided to do was call the farmer’s house while improving Maddy’s view. So, I took Maddy to the breezeway door through which Maddy could observe the cow with no curtain partially obstructing her view — and I made the call.

There was no answer, so I left a message. The cow must have heard me talking — and just bolted up over the hill.

Maddy gave me a look of supreme disappointment, as though she were telling me, “You scared off my friend, Uncle Pat.”

True to form, however, Maddy quickly was back in fine fettle.

With the cow long gone, I took Maddy outside for the post-bovine inspection. She sniffed all the hoof marks now suddenly in the yard, soft from recent rains. Maddy examined them as though she were analyzing one of life’s deeper mysteries, like a connoisseur examines the aroma of wine.

Maddy just knew there were clues in that yard, in those holes, especially the ones that were filling up with water. The cow never returned to the yard — but did return to the farm. Maddy always would have her cows. She wanted to bond with the deer, too.

The simplest things made Maddy happy. Fetch. Paws dog food. Hoof marks. Pine cones. Twigs. Dandelions. Apples.

In the fall, I’d put an apple from the nearby tree in my pocket. Maddy would dance next to my pocket the entire way back to the house. She knew an apple meant a double treat: the joy of batting it around on the floor inside, the joy of tasting something sweet. I cut Maddy’s apples into small pieces; that’s what my mother used to do for me when I was a small child, when I had the certitude of Maddy and the same joyous curiosity.

I thank God for sending me Maddy. I thank Maddy for her unqualified love for all humanity, for her generosity of spirit, for her ever-present optimism.

You’ll love your Grandma Kate, Maddy. She’ll be so proud of you for taking such good care of me, for getting me outdoors during all four seasons, for giving me reasons to go on walks, for your selflessness. She will respond to your joy with joy in equal measure. Like you, she found beauty and wonderment in seemingly insignificant things — things such as squirrels and robins and pine cones and dandelions and apples.

And cows.

Grandma Kate passed along those types of joys to me when I was a child. I forgot about them until God sent you to me, Maddy. It’s why I told you every day how lucky and thankful I was to have you.

Maddy's favorite kibble.

As sure as God understands the misdemeanors of puppyhood, Grandma Kate will make sure you have pillows to shred.  She’ll make equally sure you have a ready supply of your favorite food — the white chunks of Paws kibbles — for instant consumption or temporary hiding. She’ll also make sure your apples are sliced into bite-size chunks — and she’ll make sure you see plenty of cows and deer and squirrels and chipmunks and birds and turkeys as you walk the nature trails of heaven.

You were my little Maddy girl — and more important to me than I could put into words while you were here. Grandma Kate, I’m sure, will let you know that your life is one that made a difference.

Thank you, dear Maddy girl. Please know how much your people loved you and how much they grieve at your loss.

Maddy: April 1, 2008 (estimated)-May 18, 2012.


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8 Responses to “MADDY: 2008-2012: Wonderment, Joy, Optimism, Unqualified Love For Humanity”

  1. So happy for the joy Maddy has brought you and equally sorry for the pain you must feel at her passing. As pet rescuers,my wife and I have experienced both,many times. May your good memories of her companionship soothe any pain.

  2. Beautiful.

    Condolences and Thanks, Patrick.


  3. Although I never met Maddy, I always felt like I knew her. I remember hearing her growl at your feet as you walked while on the phone with me. She will be missed by all.

  4. Patrick-sorry for your loss. My wife and I have a Lab and she is with us 24/7. Always giving us love and her undivided attention. I can only imagine the pain that we would suffer if she died.

  5. The blog, as well as your own life, will not be quite the same without Maddy. She has been a part of it as long as I can remember. A big RIP for her from all of us and a hug for you.

  6. I am very grateful for the words of condolence about Maddy. She was a fixture in my life. It’s very much the way Frank described his Lab above. Maddy and I were together 24/7. I was so used to having her underfoot that I still look down and expect to see her.

    Thanks, everybody.


  7. Hi Patrick,

    My heart goes out to you. The love and special bond that we develop with our pets is unique but when we are under extreme stress it transcends other loves. Maddy must have seemed like your best friend whilst you were in the throes of reporting the Andy Bowdoin raid. Loss of a friendship like that really cuts one up.

  8. My heart goes out to you; you have lost your closest friend. I always keep two dogs so I have one to comfort me when the other dies – its just too hard not having a dog around. I hope you will get another one quickly, your hearts stretches with each new dog.