Starting Fresh by Remembering Meadow

It's been over three years since I've written a blog post for Dog Lessons. My last post was about Maia, who at fourteen passed in June 2013 from old age. Two weeks later, I learned that Meadow, my 12-year-old Malamute, had bone cancer in a hind leg. Feeling overwhelmed with grief, I quit posting to the blog.

Now it's a new year and the itch to write is so persistent that I simply must scratch. Much has happened since that fateful summer of 2013, including the addition of Conall - another wooly Malamute - to the family. My Aussie Finn MacCool got me through some very hard times, and has helped me raise Conall - with wonderful results.

But before I play catch up, I must provide the tribute to Meadow that I couldn't bring myself to post back in July 2013.

Rembering Meadow - May 19, 2001 – July 22, 2013

 Meadow, July 20, 2013

Meadow, July 20, 2013

This morning – just after sunrise in the cool mountain air – I gave Meadow the same gift I so recently gave Maia: a loving, gentle goodbye so she can be free from the pain of bone cancer.  A passing so unexpected and much too soon. She was courageous – and sweet – ‘till her last breath.

"... what we have enjoyed, we can never lose ... all that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

            Helen Keller

My only consolation is that the girls are once again side by side as they were throughout their lives. Memories of their love for me, for each other and for life lived well and full of adventures will allow my heart to slowly mend while Finn remains by my side.

Meadow was our goofball, comic relief, and spirit-lifter. She was sweetly silly, a jester with a keen sense of humor bringing laughter and frivolity. She loved rolling on her back and kicking up her heels, especially in the snow. She delighted in cutting trail switchbacks, just for grins. She graciously accepted the haircuts I gave her – “She’s a Malanoodle!” She slept with her tongue peeking out.

Meadow always had our backs. On forest trails, she brought up the rear, allowing me and Maia to enjoy our surroundings without fear or looking over our shoulders. She protected Maia from mean dogs, skunks and raccoons, and me from mean people. Her keen sense of smell allowed her to find the scattered bones of wildlife, treasure she delighted in showing off. Her favorite smell: elk. 

Meadow was uncommonly tender. A fluffy gentle giant, stunningly beautiful, she was a Malamute goodwill ambassador. She loved greeting strangers, especially babies in strollers and the elderly. Running in the Payette Forest I once found her in a play bow in front of a stern cow shielding her calf. She cautiously and oh-so-gently tasted the tail nubbin of a llama. On trail rides, she let my horse sniff her fluffy tail, gently nudging her if she stopped in the trail ahead of him. She groomed Maia’s ears, a bonding ritual they both enjoyed. She released any creature she caught unharmed.

Meadow was empathic. She nuzzled crying babies. She brought a teddy bear to a distraught victim of domestic violence (and always kept her own teddy bear nearby). She licked tears from my cheeks. She always let Maia win. She slept beside my bed. She showed me who to trust.

Meadow and Maia – the girls – enriched my life in countless, amazing ways. What a journey they took me on, opening my eyes and my heart to a bigger world. So many adventures! Beyond my cherished memories, their most enduring legacy will be the dog camp they inspired me to create and name after them - Maian Meadows Dog Camp – a place where I and others delight in the unconditional love and uncompromising bond that only our canines give us. With that legacy, they gave me the family I will lean on as I learn to navigate the world without them beside me.

I can hardly grasp saying goodbye to Meadow so soon after Maia. Perhaps they needed to be together to keep watch over me and Finn, as a team. I always said Meadow bonded first to Maia, then to me; I know she missed Maia terribly. I will always think of them running eagerly together down single track forest trails, tails high over their backs, ears, noses and eyes alert for wildlife, looking at me with shining eyes saying, “Let’s go! There’s so much to explore!”

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”  Mary Oliver

I shall carry Meadow – alongside Maia – in my heart forever. I am a lucky woman.

 Meadow doing her happy dance May 2011.

Meadow doing her happy dance May 2011.

 Meadow loved her teddy bear.

Meadow loved her teddy bear.

 Meadow in a meadow of wildflowers with Maia, July 20, 2007.

Meadow in a meadow of wildflowers with Maia, July 20, 2007.

Rebecca WallickComment