September 13, 2006 — January 25, 2021
Maggie Mae came into my life on November 27, 2006 when I had absolutely no right to even have a puppy, a living & breathing being that relied and depended on me. I was a fresh face senior at Cardinal Mooney, part-time job working weekends and had zero sense of reality or accountability and really no right for such an added responsibility.
Until I saw Maggie Mae.
I was killing time perusing my local PetLand – a stuffy plaza location sandwiched between two other stores containing plexiglass aquariums from floor to ceiling filled with multiple puppies per cage, a few holes drilled into the plexiglass so the crowded puppies can breathe in the thick smog of urine, feces and strong cleaner illuminated by glaring fluorescent lighting and lime green walls painted with “WE FINANCE” signs.
Financing for a puppy in plexiglass boxes.
As I stood there overwhelmed by my surroundings I heard a few of the employee’s trying to not-so-subtly discuss a “product defect” that they needed to handle and were unsure how to do so. They continued to discuss that this “product defect” was costing them money and they needed it gone in order to “make way for better merchandise”.
That’s when I saw her for the very first time. Being held by PetLand’s “kennel assistant” (which was a glorified “poop cleaner”) wrapped in a disposable pee pad, her eyes had not even opened yet.
The staff continued to talk about this “product” having an inguinal hernia and unable to make them money. They had purchased her from the “Amish breeders” for $150.00 and had plans of selling her for $3999.99. I was FLOORED. By the conversation, by the pricing, by all of it.
As they looked around and at one another in a faux sympathetic manner and decided to “dispose” of her. [I will not get into the dirty details on how they had planned, but it was utterly mortifying]
Something in me reacted. Well I thought I reacted because I heard my mouth say before my brain could react, “What if I adopt her?”
It did not take them much convincing that they wanted her gone immediately and I apparently agreed to take her so they handed her to me as if she was an article of clothing that they tried on but were disgusted with.
Now, were they concerned about who I was? Were they going to see if this puppy is going to have a good life? Or regular veterinary care?
No. The only thing they were concerned over was that I agreed I would have her spayed immediately because they did not want me to “financially benefit from this defective case”.
And there. Just like that I had a pug puppy with her eyes barely opened. I had never had a dog. I knew nothing about pugs. But there she was. And she was all mine.
I remember every minute of every detail about that fateful night. We were driving down route 224 towards home and Maggie Mae was wrapped in my yellow cardigan sweater, I was humming into her black velvet soft ears her name because I wanted her to know that was who she was, “Maggie Mae”, MY Maggie Mae.
Just as we passed the mall a firetruck came blasting by with the sirens blaring and in that moment she popped her little head out from my sweater and gave the alarming sound a quizzical, confused look with her head cocked to the side and that’s when she opened her eyes for the very first time. Those beautiful, warm, chestnut brown eyes and in that exact moment I knew she was my soulmate, my best friend, my heart.
To say that I was underprepared for a puppy would be an epic understatement of the century. But as 18 year old me pretended to be an “adult” and Maggie Mae being a fresh face clown of a puppy our life together was nothing short of a comedy. But here we were, 14 years later and I said goodbye to the beautiful Maggie Mae, first person she saw when she opened her eyes and the last person she saw as she closed them.
Maggie Mae had Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the bladder, she had kidney stones, she was tired. Despite myself not being ready to say goodbye (who truly ever is ready?) in true Maggie Mae fashion she called the shots just as she had done her entire life (I have no shame in admitting that I was owned by a little smooshy face, curly tail pug) and told me she was ready, and sadly I had to let her go.
As I begin to navigate my life without Maggie Mae religiously by my side I realized that her journey is not finished. Her life continued to inspire and enlighten mine.
What if I had not been in that exact moment so many years ago?
What if I had not spoke up volunteering to take this “defective” puppy (which when I had her spayed the veterinarian repaired the hernia and she was perfectly fine), what would have happened?
Would she had been thrown into those small boxes with other “defective” puppies?
If they treat their puppies like this what OTHER secrets were they hiding?
Maggie, even in her passing was inspiring me to release the floodgates to the atrocities of PetLand/Harbor Pets or whatever name they were attempting to hide under in the moment.
Now, there is no shortage of court documents, complaints, news articles that highlight the atrocities at these stores.
Their ability to manipulate, deceive and guilt-trip is nothing short of the actions similar to that of a sleazy used car salesman.
You can check out just a few of the court documents/investigations here:
Though I am forever thankful to have had Maggie Mae in my life and for as long as I did, I want everyone to know and be educated on the horrendous conditions and practices of these “businesses”.