The look in his eyes said it all.
I knew something was wrong when my husband, Craig, came back into the house this morning after cattle chores.
It was an exciting day when Maggie and EmmyLou joined our family. And saying good-bye is never easy. As our 5-year-old Nolan was eating his Pop-Tarts® and our 8-year-old Waylon brushed his teeth, Craig whispered to me, “Maggie died.”
Maggie. One of our two beloved farm dogs.
We gathered the boys around the kitchen table and Craig gently broke the news. He had found Maggie lying in the grass with EmmyLou – our second dog – keeping vigil by her side.
She was a good dog.
Last summer, while we attended our first Junior National Hereford Expo in Kansas City, our chocolate lab, Lady, passed away. Oh, that was a sad day, too.
After a few weeks, the boys decided they were ready to welcome a new dog to the family again. While I was off photographing an out-of-town wedding, Craig loaded up the kids and headed to a nearby shelter to check out the options.
Waylon spotted a small, black “crossbred” named Maggie – most would call a mutt – and fell in love.
The catch? Maggie had spent her lifetime living with another dog, EmmyLou, in the home of an elderly woman. She was no longer able to care for the dogs, and the shelter took them in.
Because they had never lived apart, the shelter hated to separate Maggie and EmmyLou.
Craig texted me: “How would you feel about two dogs?”
I thought he was kidding.
He was not.
All it took was a little pleading from the boys, and Craig’s heart softened. And Maggie and EmmyLou officially became part of the Lee family.
At first, we wondered what in the world we had done.
We initially kept these girls in a pen in the barn, and would lead them around the perimeter of the property each night, in order to teach them the boundaries of “home.”
It had worked for our other dogs. But Maggie and EmmyLou were a bit more adventurous.
The moment we removed the leashes? They were off to the races.
The first time, they made it to our neighbors’ home – three miles away – before we found them.
That process repeated more times than we’d care to admit. And the neighbors were always on alert for those “Lee dogs.”
We installed an invisible fence. They slipped the collars into the mile-high snow banks during our never-ending winter. We still haven’t found them.
But eventually, they came to terms with this being their new home.
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