Maggie’s Tail
By Kathleen Hunter, Dartmouth, NS
UPdate Spring 1996

     It’s a dogs life is what they say.  Well here is a story about a period of time in my doggy life.  I’m a mutt – albeit a cute mutt and my name is Maggie.  These are my observations of what has been happening in this household for more than a year.  They (my owners I mean) must think I am a totally unobservant pooch not to notice the changes around here.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that my owners are really very nice, but give me a little credit, these events affect me too!

     Let me think, where shall I start… last winter is a good place.  Everything was going along just fine.  My master and mistress were feeding me in the morning just like clockwork, except for the weekends when my mistress couldn’t get out of bed.  On these occasions my master would feed me breakfast and after breakfast I would visit my mistress lying in bed, snoring away.  Boy what a sight! Mouth wide open, nose totally plugged and her breath! I sniffed that a couple of times – was that scary!
Well life was going along very pleasantly.  I had my routine.  I would nap all morning (except when the postman or garbage man woke me up) and in the afternoon I would wander around the house a bit.  Mostly I was just waiting for ‘them’ to come home, to feed me and to play with me.  I was so excited to see them!

     My mistress took the bus to work.  After a while she started to feel nauseous after work and would have to lie down.  On those days my master fed me and he fed my mistress too.  Usually she would start feeling better after the news and off we would go for our evening walk.  Boy those walks were nice! All those smells, dog smells, people smells and smells on the breeze.  Those breezes, I know my mistress loved them too.

     You know those walks; started to get a little shorter.  My mistress started getting more and more tired.  Not all at once mind you.  Very slowly at first.  She always justified it somehow.  For example she would say “tomorrow we will go a little further”, or “it’s raining a little too much, so we won’t go far.”  This was a switch, we used to walk in all kinds of weather.  The only exceptions were really bad rain and snow storms.

     My collar was getting tighter.  I felt a little pudgy.  Mind you I love to eat.  The slow decrease in exercise seemed to be the reason.  My mistress was getting a little pudgy too.  Her clothes were getting a little bit tighter and I heard her say she had gone up a couple of sizes (whatever that means).  We kept on eating and getting pudgier together!

     Well to get back to my mistress, she took another job so that she didn’t have to take the bus across the bridge to Halifax.  This bus sickness was really getting her down.  It didn’t seem to make any difference if she sat at the front or the back of the bus.  

     It was nearly spring and I heard my mistress talking to my master.  Her office was moving around the corner to a newly painted, carpeted and furnished building.  I could tell from her voice that she wasn’t impressed with this turn of events.  She had always preferred older furniture and buildings.  The color scheme was to be burgundy and all her colleagues were pleased with their new “digs”.

     So they all moved into the shiny, new office.  My mistress was going into work every day to earn money for my dog food (very important).  One day she came home upset.  She had started crying at work.  She just couldn’t seem to get through the same amount of work that she used to.  You know I smelt something funny coming off her clothes.  This smell was similar to the glue that my master used occasionally when working in the basement.  There was another smell.  A smell my mistress called a paint smell.  She said she could taste it in her mouth long after she left work.
It was around this time that my mistress was trying with great difficulty to open a can of my food.  Eventually she dropped it and food went flying all over the place.  It was everywhere, on the walls, counter and all over the floor.  Boy was that fun! I thought that it was a great way to be fed.  My mistress didn’t think it was so great.  She was becoming downright dangerous.  She broke glasses and other things.  During these accidents she would lock me out of the kitchen while she cleaned up – so I wouldn’t hurt my paws.

     By this time my mistress knew something was wrong.  I was so bored – all she did was lie around at night, my walks got shorter again and I was still pudgy.  It was no fun.  She went to bed so early.  Sometimes I joined he there for a few hours, but I was still bored.

     Finally my mistress went to the doctor.  He couldn’t find anything wrong and he suggested that it was all in her head.  I knew differently.  I knew it wasn’t all in her head and she felt the same way.  You know, I could still smell funny stuff on her skin, clothes and breath when she came home from work.

     She decided to finish working, she just couldn’t seem to do it any more.  Meanwhile a friend of hers pointed out that it could be chemical sensitivities.  This idea was easily accepted by my mistress (it all seemed to fit), however what to do now?

     She was now at home and started to do some reading, making some phone calls and generally started to feel pretty good again.  We went for walks and she really perked up fast.  She played with me more often, the only weird thing was having her underfoot all the time.  Boy, I hate it when she listens to the Gzowski in the morning.  Mornings are for napping, doesn’t she know anything?

     A month went by and then a previous boss of my mistress called and asked her to work.  My mistress explained to the woman (whom she respected very much) that she had not felt well at the last place of work.  In spite of this my mistress decided to give it a try and help them out during a very busy time.

     So off she went, back to work.  I know she really likes to work.  She enjoys the people she talks to, the camaraderie and besides she was earning money for my dog food!

     I was happy and quickly fell back into my old routine.  Up in the morning – breakfast, home at night and then play, play, and play.  I know my mistress was going to various doctors’ appointments, but I overheard that they never found anything wrong.

     One evening, my master and mistress went out to the pub for supper.  I was there (as the story goes) that my mistress dropped something.  Oh, oh.  It was the master who noticed it first – was my mistress getting sick again?

     After about six weeks my mistress came home from work upset, she had just talked to the boss.  My mistress had been having difficulty reading manuals and comprehending what was written.  She had thought that it was just a temporary problem.  Her colleagues though, were starting to notice her errors and the excuses were beginning to pile up.  The boss was very understanding, the difficult work was taken away any my mistress was given the more routine work to do.  Boy was that hard for my mistress to accept! She had always been proud of her work and for the most part enjoyed the challenge her career had afforded her.

     So once again my mistress was home listening to Gzowski, but this time in bed.  She would also take afternoon naps.  It was nice to curl up with her and snooze.  She also didn’t have her nose stuck in a book! Apparently this was because she couldn’t read! Oh well more attention for me!

     Mind you she was still dangerous, always dropping things and leaving hot things on around the house.  The master would turn these hot things OFF.  Things that he called the iron, curling iron, stove and oven.

     My master was always the one who fed me now.  He would come home from work, make me supper and then make their supper.  He must have been tired after having worked all day.

     Spring was here and summer was on its way! It was nice to lie under the lawn chair while my mistress sat under the maple tree all afternoon listening to Vicki Gabereau.  How annoying! She looked so pale, white as a sheet.  Our walks were really short and we were still overweight.  Maybe I should join a weight reduction club for dogs!

     She went to a nutritionist one day and came back with all these bottles of things that she started to swallow.  At the same time she started baking this weird flat bread, stopped eating some things and started eating more of other things.  Oh well, as long as I got my food, those weird smells in the kitchen didn’t bother me too much!

     One day the phone rang.  My mistress was so excited, she got a cancellation with an environmental doctor.  What luck! So off she went and after numerous appointments and more things to swallow, she started reading again.  I was really annoyed, that radio was off more often but she had her nose stuck in those books again!

     There were other appointments too.  She went to have pins stuck in her.  The master and I just didn’t’ get it, it sounded so painful.  She said that it wasn’t and it did seem to help her. 

     My mistress was also going off to this hot room.  Apparently she went there to sweat all that smell stuff out of her body.  She smelled so clean when she came back from those saunas.  She looked red afterwards, but she said she felt better.

     The other thing my mistress started to do was to lie around on the floor in these funny positions.  I thought she wanted to play with me, but after pestering her, I figured out I had better not bother her. 

     I don’t know, some of those positions look pretty strange to me! Well, things are still different around here.  I’m finally used to having my mistress home all the time.  She still reads a lot and usually has that radio on, but I do like the company and sometimes we go for really long walks on the beach.  Wonderful! I don’t know if my mistress will ever work in an office full time again? I do know that she misses work very much.  She is now getting healthier and seems happier and that makes my tail wag! The other bonus is that I, or I should say WE, are no longer PUDGY!