Maggie and I met on 19th December 2008 in York. She was advertised on Gumtree as she had been bred at 7 months old and most of her puppies had died, and the advert said that she was useless and was being beaten up by his ex-girlfriend. By chance I saw the advert, and I called the guy. He had another offer of swapping her for a gold ring and a motorcycle helmet; I agreed to meet him as soon as I left work, and hoped I would get there first. Heart in mouth sort of day. I met the guy and she was clearly neglected and not used to being treated kindly. Long story short; I wanted our lives to run alongside one another. We had to move from a flat to a house near my work so I could go home and see her in the afternoon and in February 2009, we moved in the gither!
Our friendship was great; anyone who has been close to a dog will know what I mean. We had a lot of brilliant moments and made a lot of happy memories.
In October 2015 Maggie was diagnosed with primary lung cancer. It was deemed operable and we prepared for major surgery. Unfortunately, the primary tumour in her lung had metastasised into her oesophagus, and its removal meant a feeding peg had to be put in for 10 days to allow her oesophagus to heal and to reduce the risk of infection. She was recovering well, and enjoying time outside with the vet nurses, she was sitting up and alert, and enjoying lots of attention (Maggie loved giving and receiving attention!). The vet nurses were aw in love with her already. After many phone calls to update me, and everything going well, on Saturday afternoon I was expecting to be going to collect her from hospital on Sunday morning, having no seen each other since Wednesday.
On the evening of Saturday 24th October I got a call saying that something had gone catastrophically wrong. Her feeding peg had become dislodged, and the food that was supposed to go into her stomach had filled her abdominal cavity, causing the worse case of peritonitis ever seen in the vet hospital. They rushed Maggie into surgery to try to save her life, but just before 8pm on Saturday, by phone, I had to make the decision to end Maggie's life while she was under anaesthetic. The damage was awfy bad and she wisnae going to recover. I didnae have time to be with her. It was very difficult accepting that I wisnae with Maggie as she died.
On the way to see Maggie's body the day after she died, a thought appeared; “The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice”. I couldnae be with Maggie when she died, so I decided that in her memory I would build a home for other animal folk who found themselves in need of a friend and home as their lives wind down.
She had a horrible death, not what I'd want for anyone, especially not my best pal. When I left her a few days before for surgery I'd promised her that I'd see her again and that she would come home. As things went, I couldn't keep my promise to her, and giving my permission for them to end her suffering and her life once we knew nothing would save her was the worst thing I'd ever felt. As Maggie died a hundred miles away and I sat numb with shock on the bathroom floor I knew things would never be the same.
I still don't know where the thought came from, but on the way to say goodbye to Maggie the next day I turned to my mum and said; 'The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice'. Maggie had died alone but I had a chance to make sure that whoever came to live and die in the hospice didn't.