The following article was written by Barbara Yarnell, a volunteer with Brown County Humane Society (BCHS)

One of the better things about getting older is seeing how stories end. Especially rescued dog stories. Stories like Maggie’s.

My mom and dad found Maggie on a hot summer day at the mailbox at their home in California. No tags or identification. They speculated she was a dumped “grove dog” because she knew how to knock avocados off trees so they ripen, something a grove dog learns. At any rate, there she was — thirsty, hungry and very pregnant.

Mom posted found dog notices and made calls, but no one came forward. Maggie had eight puppies. With the help of a local rescue group, all were adopted, but mom and dad couldn’t part with Maggie.

She wasn’t a “hero” dog. She didn’t pull a baby out of a burning house or pin down a thief until police arrived. No, she was a nurse dog that provided comfort to her owners. First, with my dad after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and then for my mom after dad died.

When Mom sold their grove, Maggie came to live with me in Texas. She had to learn about cats, thunderstorms, mosquitos, fire ants and long, hot summers. When my husband got sick, once again she comforted him, and then me when he died.

Maggie was sweet, gentle, dedicated and smart. She made the most amazing circles in the air to greet us when we came home. She had “quirks,”. Sandwiches left unattended on the coffee table were eaten. When confronted, she would get a look on her face like, “I know you don’t think I should have that sandwich, but I respectfully disagree.” It was just so sweet…

How many times, deep in despair, did I look up to see Maggie laying nearby, keeping watch? She made me smile when nothing else could. Just like she did with each of us.

The last leg of Maggie’s journey was moving with me back to Indiana. She died at the approximate age of 16.

I use to think Maggie was lucky to have run into my parents that hot summer day. Now I can see she is a part of our family’s story. We were the lucky ones. When her name comes up, there is a moment of silence and then someone will recall a memory of her. Followed by a sob or two. Surely, she was a gift.

I know that each pet rescued has a chance for a similar story. That is one of the benefits I find volunteering at Brown County Humane Society and it makes me smile, even at times when nothing else can. Maggie would like that.