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A gentle dog….

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In January of 2006, I was driving on a small country road in the Poolesville area in Maryland. I was not really in a good mood, dealing with an antique shop in Poolesville which was going down the drain. Anyway, just after a curve, a big sign hit me with its words: “Labrador Retrievers puppies for sale.” Which insane person could put a sign by a curve inviting people to buy a pup like that, without screening, without anything?

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At that time, I had Zeus, my heart dog, a black lab, Lola, a yellow lab, who was 8 months old, and Pouch, our Golden Retriever. I stopped. It was a gray day, and the forecast was for some snow the next day. It was a long driveway lost in huge trees, and I mean long, maybe half of a mile, maybe more. The place was beautiful. The house was like an oasis in the middle of woods, suddenly green pastures, and that yellow house in the middle. It was my kind of place, the place where you don’t see neighbors! An older lady opened the door, smiling, and the shadow of a man disappeared in the background. She directed me to the garage where the pups were. I was not planning to get a puppy, Ms. Lola being quite handful to say the least, probably the worst puppy I have ever met, so what got into me to drive into that house, to walk into that garage and to see those black puppies looking at me with their beautiful loving eyes? The garage was cold, that I remember. I sat down on the concrete, she opened the gate of the playpen, and right away a little ball of black fur with amber eyes jumped on me. Even if I had wanted to let her go, she would not have let me. I became hers in a second. She chose me, and no, I was not planning to have a larger family, but I would never have been able to let Maia go. It was going to snow the next day. The garage was as cold as the little pups eyes were warm and loving. I realized afterward, driving back home, that since the second she came to me, I never let her go. I could not. But who could put a sign like that “Labrador Retrievers puppies for sale”?  Certainly not an animal lover, just a dollar lover. No questions asked, a written check, and I was let go with that lovely puppy in my arms. No questions asked;  nothing…. She let me go with one of her puppies. She let me go without even asking a single question.  So, let me introduce you to her. Her name is Maia, and she is the most beautiful Labrador retriever that I had ever seen. Zeus was in love with her  the minute he saw her, and I am not kidding. Maia is perfect. In the six and half years that we have been living together, Maia never had “an accident”, right Lola? Maia was two months old when she came home, and I cannot remember anything she could have done wrong, not one thing? She was the proper puppy, the proper teenager, the proper grown up dog. She is polite, tender, and gentle, doesn’t try to cut off your fingers when you give her a treat, and after all these years, she still smells like Cheerios, she never lost her puppy smell.

In the dogs’ world, she is the perfect one. In the Labrador retriever’s world, she is not. Maia doesn’t retrieve, but she is smart. When I throw a ball, and Lola is with her, Maia waits to see where the ball will go, and grabs it before Lola, but once, the ball is hers, she loses interest in it, and just drops it wherever she is. Of course, sometimes if Lola is far too anxious to get the ball, Maia might just do a ballet around the yard with the ball in her mouth, but you can see that she really doesn’t care about it; she just wants to get it first! Then she is done.

The first time I took her swimming with Lola, Lola had already jumped into the water and was waiting for the bumper to be thrown while Maia, slowly put a paw in the water, and looked at me with dismay like telling me: “this is WET!” But how could she resist competing with Lola for the bumper?  Awkwardly, she swam, awkwardly it was. Maia doesn’t have Lola’s easiness in the water. She kind of looks like if she is in an armchair and paddles with her front legs. Water is not her element, but since Maia is extremely smart, she realized that she really did not need to get into that cold wet stuff to get the bumper. She just let Lola do the job, and then as soon as Lola lands on the bank of the creek, Maia gets the bumper out of Lola’s mouth in a second. Not fair for Lola, I totally agree with you, that’s why I have special time for Lola, but these two grew up together, and like two sisters,  argue a lot, but at the same time, can’t live without each other.

Maia was the only one who could make Zeus feel better when there was a thunderstorm, and when Zeus was put to sleep on that dreadful morning when he could not breeze, Maia mourned, and mourned, and mourned. She stopped eating, and was on her couch, her eyes lost somewhere, and waiting for Zeus who never came back.

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Maia is starting to have some white on her face  - hello, why can’t I get hair dye for her? – and I take the white. Do I have any choice anyway? But Maia, young or old, will always be the most gentle and proper dog I have ever lived with. So, I guess, you just had the privilege of meeting Maia! And yes, it is a privilege.

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