Saturday , 25 November 2017

Maggie, rest well.

Many NDG’ers will recognize Lori Kalef as one of the special crew at Animal Health Clinic. But if you knew Lori, you definitely knew Maggie – the sweet bear of a dog that was never far from her side. Fuzzy gold fur to match her gold heart.

Lori and Maggie

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.  ~Author Unknown

Maggie was the clinic’s unofficial greeter.  And not just in the clinic, where Lori worked for a decade. “She was a true legend walking down Sherbrooke St West,” Lori says, “Everyone knew her, and everyone invited her in.  I couldn’t walk more than five steps without cars stopping or passerbys just to ask me what she was (a chow/shepherd mix). People who didn’t love dogs, loved Maggie.”

A few years ago, Lori found love (yay!) got hitched (yay!) and moved to BC (yaybutit’sjustsofreakinfar!) – while launching a very cool business of her own! All good stuff.  Well, except for the fact that NDG would now be without one of it’s sweetest faces.   Okay, two.

Retirement Livin'

I rescued a human today. ~ Janine Allen

People who have shared their lives with dogs, will talk about a ‘once in a lifetime dog’.  An animal-human connection that is so strong, it’s useless to try to capture it’s meaning through mere words.  It’s something special and it’s clear that Maggie and Lori shared this bond – starting from when Maggie was rescued at 7 months old from a pound in Sherbrooke, Quebec.  She was in a ‘holding cage’.  The final place before euthanasia.  Literally moments away.

But fate intervened.


Lori explains, “From that day forward, her every breath was for me.  She never destroyed anything in the house, never ever had an accident inside, and didn’t care if a baby’s hand reached into her bowl if it was filled with meat.”  Maggie was even the inspiration behind Lori’s pet fundraiser, Dangle a Bangle – which raised money for the SPCA.  A nod to Maggie’s humble shelter beginnings. And to the thousands of “Maggies” waiting for their chance too.

These past years, Maggie enjoyed a fulfilling retirement on the West Coast, as you can well imagine.  And she ever-gracefully welcomed Eddy and Bosco, 2 more rescue dogs, to the pack.





Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really.  ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

In 2009, Maggie was diagnosed with a rare and invasive form of cancer –  Hemangio Sarcoma (she had a full splenectomy).  With Lori’s care and devotion and Maggie’s brave and fighting spirit – she lived 18 months longer than expected. A true testament to the deep love and loyalty of each.  A precious 18 months more of walks and fetch and swims. And everything we take for granted when we believe we have time on our side.

The battle was won, but not the war.  And with time, Maggie developed laryngeal paralysis – her throat slowly closing in.  It laboured her breathing.  It worsened.  It was time.  And Lori, like so many of us, turned to face that pivotal question.  After a lifetime of devotion and love and loyalty, to make Maggie remain would be merely selfish.  Maggie was given the greatest gift of compassion and peace on February 21st, 2011.  She was 13 and a 1/2.

Lori writes:

One can go through an entire lifetime not knowing this bond, this feeling of unconditional reciprocal love that goes beyond any hint of verbal exchange. Maggie felt for me. When I was sad, when I was happy, when there was slight fluctuation in my mood. I tried to hide it to spare her feelings sometimes but she always knew, and a gentle left paw would touch me. I am lucky to know this, Maggie will never ever leave me because she is truly part of my soul. Those who knew her, knew this, knew how special she was and I want to thank each and everyone of you for your kind offerings because it does help. To remember, not so much the last few days that were hard, but the stoic dog that saved my life. A million times over.  One day I will meet her in the lake at the country and we will swim together again. In my dreams. It is only I now who has the broken heart, her physcial one gave up and I know it was time for her to go, to be okay with not looking after me anymore from 3 feet away, but from within. I will love her with every waking cell in my body, always.

Smiling at the beach


You think dogs will not be in heaven?  I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Lori wrote a beautiful poem in honour of Maggie.  In sharing this, we hope to help others heal.  The grief associated with losing a beloved pet is deep and real and so many of us do understand.  Rest well, Maggie.  You showed the world unconditional love and it was better for having you.

And thanks, Lori – for the opportunity to share:

She never asked for much

Maybe a kind heart and an occasional touch

She didn’t lick or jump the way others do

She knew the love for her just grew

She didn’t care about cookies or about food

She only cared if I was in a good mood

She always was just steps away

But never out of sight or gone astray

She didn’t retrieve or carry things in her jaw

Instead she moved things around with her left paw

She had enourmous feet and shaggy gold fur

People would stop at just the mere site of her

A dog so unique like almost a bear

Eyes would look upon her to stop and stare

But with a job to fulfill for only one

She would just look at me for an answer and then be done

She was soft and gentle from the outside in

A trust in nature that bared only a grin,

To little hands and big eyes that would catch her coat

Or strangers that stopped by just even to dote

Still –

She breathed in for me and I breathed out for her

And together we always were.

Often covered in gold fur.

By my side through joys and tears

Through pain and sadness and all my fears

Through moves and trips and another furry friend

Her allegiance to my being would not even bend

In the middle of the night when I’d wake from my sleep

A watchful eye on me, she would always keep


It all seemed to happen at once

My hero and protector’s years turned to months

There never was a question for what I must do

And give you everything you needed my sweet Shaboo

You outlived your illness but symptoms grew stronger

I told you I’d give you the world if you’d just stay longer

You began to slow down but never in spirit

Your bones ached and breath laboured but you just tried to bear it

Walks for you became something of a chore

You would be happier just with an open back door

You stood no longer to eat your meal

I tried to change it every day to make it less of an ordeal

That your appetite was merely to please

Your interest to eat was for me to appease

Stoic and proud you were always for me

Even though it hurt you wanted me to be

Content and safe and never alone

You would give your life for me, without so much as a moan

I asked you for a sign when you have had enough

I couldn’t bear the thought of my best friend feeling so rough

And you were tough-

But the day arrived that I dreaded ever so much

When I knew I would have to give up that left paw touch

Your heart was fighting for each inhale

Your gums were growing more and more pale

And still.

You were never afraid

Except that I would feel betrayed

My hero, my best friend, my extension of my soul

Let go now, my heart will forever have a hole

And even though we may not still be together the way we used to be

We will ALWAYS be connected by a chord no eye can see.

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

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  1. Terry Price Kimmel


    I am bawling reading this. What a wonderful life you gave her.And what a loving tribute you have paid. We all miss you .
    Stay strong

    Terry Price Kimmel

  2. Thank You so much for SHARING.. Maggie R I P well done all the way Lori.

  3. I have no words but my heart is with you and Maggie. Heaven is surely the only place she (and they’ll) be. Blessings.

  4. Hi Lori
    I knew you from Pied A Terre(the other Lori).So happy for your wonderful relationship with Maggie, but so sorry for your loss. You were both so very lucky to have found each other……..not everyone does. Be happy…..both of you. xxx

  5. I knew Maggie. I loved her so. I remember asking if she was a puppy and I think she was 8 or 9 at the time. 🙂 Yup, I cried reading this. But so happy I met her and pet her at the clinic and around NDG/Westmount. 🙂 She made my life and hundreds of others that much brighter. 🙂

  6. To Nat, my special friend. Thank you for this gift. You have honoured my bond with Maggie in ways that words cannot adequately describe.
    Through the tears I am reading peoples’ comments and I’m already in awe. Thank you. So much. I remember you and love you all.
    Missing you.

  7. When Lori moved to BC, it was to share her amazing spirit with more people. I have recently come into Lori’s circle (both myself and my beloved Bala- SPCA rescue dog from Barrie, ON) and can testify to the love she is spreading out West. I had the fortune to meet Maggie and spend a little time with her before her passing. She is truly at the centre of Lori’s heart and was blessed to have been loved so much by Lori.
    Lori read her beautiful poem at a hilltop ceremony to bid new and exciting journeys to Maggie.
    Those of you in Montreal who know Lori and Maggie, know that is loved and cared for out here on Vancouver Island.

  8. Dionne. What can I say? I love ya.
    Thank you for this beautiful message.

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