30 Days of Thanks: Gratitude for Madeline

Miri McDonald and MadelineI’m one of those people who transforms into what I call a “crazy dog lady” when I pick up my dog Madeline’s leash and we head out for a walk.

You know the type. You’ll probably hear me talking to my dog. I’m more likely to know your dog’s name than yours. I’ve been known to kiss stranger’s dogs, too.

The other day, my son said to me, “Mom, you can never get enough of dogs.”

And he’s right. I really can’t. I point them out constantly to my kids and my husband. I’m grateful they know this part of who I am. I’m also grateful I’ve given them a love for animals, too.

As a child, I longed for a dog of my own, but my parents didn’t really want the responsibility of a pet. So, I had to wait until I was an adult. I think it’s interesting how expectations build up over time. I had this idea of what an ideal pet would be, and let’s just say it didn’t really turn out that way.

Our dog, Madeline, is probably not what you would call Kennel Club-approved black Labrador Retriever. When we first adopted her, she made a very loud, high-pitched noise that caused people to cross the street. She pulled the leash so hard, I cried because my arm was so sore.

I fell down a man hole once because of Madeline.

She also ate a dead squirrel, caught a live rabbit, a duck, many birds and more rodents than I care to remember. Several trainers told me she was the hardest dog they had ever worked with.

On the flip side, she’s also the reason I know many of my neighbors. She’s helped me train for several running races and is the reason I am so disciplined about walking every morning.

I never thought I would be someone who would laugh while getting drenched in the rain or falling in the snow, but I do with Madeline. I also find myself stopping to revel in my surroundings during our walks, looking at the shockingly red and orange leaves on the trees and marveling at snow we typically need to climb over on our sidewalks in the winter.

I laugh out loud as Madeline buries her snout – and sometimes entire head – in the snowbanks, looking for an animal or a piece of sandwich a child left behind.

Madeline and the doggie dipI’m grateful for many of the pet-specific experiences I’ve had because of Madeline. There’s one that stands out called the doggie dip. Imagine about a hundred dogs and their humans frantically running around a swimming pool, trying not to get trampled on or step in anything gross. I loved watching the dogs swim and play.

Madeline, being a Labrador, was in heaven. She loves to swim. And she doesn’t really understand what it means to take it easy. So, she jumped in hundreds of times until we had to drag her out of there. And she couldn't figure out how to get out of the pool by herself. So I had to pull her out by the scruff of her neck. So there I was, bracing myself at the edge of the pool, pulling her out, laughing so hard I’m crying. All of this, mind you, while I’m getting completely drenched. Then, I watch her dive exuberantly into the pool so many times that her nails bleed.

I’d love to have that kind of passion for something.

When my dad died recently, I found myself grieving the most honestly when I was with Madeline. I’m grateful she doesn’t need me to fill the silence with words. And then, there’s her fur – the tears just seem to melt right in there. Those Labradors are meant to be wet.

The other day my son said, “Madeline is magical. Whenever you feel bad, you just have to hug her and you feel better.”

I’ll take magical over ideal any day.

And for that, I feel so much gratitude.

30 Days of Thanks American Family InsuranceEditor's note: What makes you thankful this time of year? Visit us on Facebook during November for inspiration and ideas as we celebrate 30 Days of Thanks.  

by Miri McDonald on Fri, Nov 08 2013 10:21 am
Posted by Miri McDonald on Fri, Nov 08 2013 10:21 amMiri McDonald is a strategic communications consultant with American Family Insurance.


Linda said on Nov 12, 2013
Excellent blog, Miri! I feel the exact same way about dogs--always have. My husband says I can tell the breed of a dog from a mile away but I couldn't tell the make and model of a car right in front of me (his passion). We also walk twice a day no matter the weather and you are right--what else would have you appreciate the scenery or the cold, crappy weather or the beautiful sunset, but once you are out there, the bad isn't isn't so bad:) and the good weather is great!
Caryn Vesperman said on Nov 08, 2013
Love it, Miri. It struck a chord with me as far as my love of animals, especially horses....and cats....and dogs.... :-)
Ann Dryden said on Nov 20, 2013
I really do love animals...I recently had to put down my cat of 20 years and a dog we had adopted and told my family no more pets! will a month later ....We are now the proud family of a new black lab "Duke"-One look and I was hooked. Adopt a pet today it will change your life!
Sara said on Nov 09, 2013
LOVE this so much, it's because of Madeline that I got to share many mornings with the two of you via vox; therefore I have many stories I could add but my favorite is about how crayons travel through the digestive system without losing their integrity :) I can feel the energy of your love and connection with that girl, you guys are both blessed. MUAH MUAH MUAH
Heide said on Nov 08, 2013
LOVE your story of you and your dog Madeline. I grew up in a no pets home ... finally got the approval to get a fuzzy hamster we named Molly. Those who know me understand I've given many a cat or kitten a forever home. I can't imagine coming to an empty home, they're always happy to see me.
Libby said on Nov 08, 2013
From one crazy dog lady to another--our dogs are magical!!
Rosemary said on Nov 08, 2013
Great story Miri--I have many similar reasons and experiences to be thankful--my golden retriever, Buddi (with a heart to dot her "i") is a warm part of our family.
Kira said on Nov 08, 2013
I love this Miri! I could use a magical Cadeline hug right now!!

Great article.
nesse Godin said on Nov 08, 2013
Dear Miri we love you I remember when you were ayoung child anyou loved our dog Buffy zeida sends his love Baba
Edelina Schuman said on Nov 09, 2013
That was achingly beautiful. I share your love of animals- for me it is cats. I am most comfortable around them and there isn't a cat in my neighborhood that doesn't know to come to my deck to get regularly fed. I recognize that I can never sound "normal" when talking about my love of cats but to paraphrase a quote, "I may have lost my mind but I found my soul. "
Miri said on Nov 20, 2013
Thanks to all of you for your heartfelt comments and compliments on my blog. I am glad to be a member of our crazy pet loving club!
Beth said on Nov 08, 2013
Pure bliss. I imagine I will meet Madeline somewhere, someday. I will look for you attached.
Rebecca said on Nov 08, 2013
Great piece, Mir. You captured the relationship you and Madeline have so eloquently! She's an amazing part of your family and I know the way you and your family feel about her is absolutely reciprocated!
Catherine Pippitt said on Nov 08, 2013
So true! Our Lab-ish dogs don't mind at all when I cry into their fur. Or snuggle them in the mornings -- what a lovely smell to wake up to. Our dogs are truly a magical little blessing in our lives.

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