This Rough Magic

Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure

Prospero, The Tempest, Wm. Shakespeare

Two weeks ago today, we lost our big male deerhound Magic.  It should not have been any surprise—he had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in August and from the looks of his echocardiogram August 8th, his days were numbered.  He was with us for over ten years, a long life for a giant hound.  But the finality of death is always a surprise, isn’t it?

Can dogs perceive tragedy in their lives?  Do they grieve as we do?  If so, Magic had grief aplenty.  Acquired as a four month old puppy with his half-sister Angelina, he was fine until at six months, he fractured a metatarsal bone taking a corner too fast, and after surgery to pin the shattered bone he spent six weeks in a cast.  He recovered just fine, well enough to finish his championship at 18 months without a trace of a limp to suggest his prior injury.  From the time he was a puppy, we called him The Dog Who Never Did Anything Wrong.  He never got sick, never barked, never growled, and never EVER had an accident in the house.  Following the example of our older male Izzy, he was a friend to all—humans, dogs and cats.  Well maybe once he chased a horse, but after the embarrassment of being chastised, he never did it again.  He was a homebody, afraid of fireworks and thunder and lightning, but as long as he had his family about him, he bore no complaint.  When his sister and constant companion Angelina passed, he clearly had a period of sadness, but bounced back quickly.  But when we lost Izzy and in rapid succession the little dog Jack to old age, Magic lay down on the carpet in the family room between the coffee table and the chairs, head between forelegs, and there he stayed.  He ate his meals, and went out twice a day to do his business (“whether he needed to or not!” we joked).  But the exuberance and sense of humor that characterizes the deerhound personality was gone.

When we sold our home in San Diego in October, and decided to move to New Mexico, Magic was the dog we worried about the most.  Given his heart condition, we weren’t sure that he could make the transition to altitude and cold weather.  We worried and fretted and even considered putting him to sleep, but in the end, since he wasn’t in any pain, we loaded him, the two girl deerhounds and the little rescue Yoda into the van and off we went.  Our biggest fear was that we would have to find a veterinarian somewhere along Interstate 40 to do what we hadn’t been able to bring ourselves to do before we left.  But the big dog surprised us.  Here in Santa Fe, he seemed to take a new lease on life.  Suddenly he was interested in his surroundings—he ran, he played, and he discovered where the bunnies were hiding in the culvert.  He patrolled the fence line at sunset, watching for coyotes.  He assumed the role of pack leader for the first time in his life.  His two female consorts adored him, and he was The Man.  And, like a family member of any patient diagnosed with a terminal illness, I began to have magical thinking:  first, let’s see if he makes his tenth birthday!  He did.  Then, let’s see if he makes Thanksgiving, when the kids come home!  He did.  And then, jeepers, maybe he’ll see Christmas, and even another New Years!  He did.  So then I began thinking about his eleventh birthday, next October.  As I said, death is always a surprise.

As we get older, each loss hits harder.  I’ve done a lot of thinking about this these last two weeks.  When we are children, the family dog seems to live forever.  He’s there when we start kindergarten, then junior high, then high school.  He comforts us when we’re sad.  Our lives, and his life, while not equivalent, are at least proportionate.  But as we age, the lifespans of our pets seem to shrink.  Now that I am 61, Magic’s life seems to mine a mere blink of the eye.  He was there, beside my bed, every night for ten years.  And now he is gone, and I’ll never again curse under my breath as I trip over him in the dark, and my life is much the worse for that.

Rest in peace, Ch. Caerwicce’s This Rough Magic, October 15, 2004—January 25, 2015.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart and you shall see that, in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”  Kahlil Gibran


  1. Maryann…your tribute to Magic is beautiful. Your observation that their lives seem to get shorter as we age is so accurate. They just don’t live long enough, and every loss is more difficult. I dread the day when Zoom’s number comes up; she has been such a joy to me through difficult times. They are a blessing.

  2. Maryann, I’m so sorry to hear you and Rich lost Magic. I can’t believe that he was only 10 years old; he seemed such a part your lives, it was as if he’d been with you forever. I’m glad he got to chase some bunnies and see his first snowfall. You were good peeps to him … what more can a dog (or any of us, really) ask for? “It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”
    – Cheryl Zuccaro

  3. Well, the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine,
    The old pal so dear to me.
    And I smile through my tears on this first day alone,
    Knowing they’re in eternity.
    Day after day, the whole day through,
    Wherever my road inclined,
    Four feet said, “Wait, I’m coming with you!”
    And trotted along behind.

    Rudyard Kipling

    1. Thank you Coleen. This just opened the floodgate of tears all over again, but worth it to know that Kipling knew what it was like.

    1. Thank you Angela. That quote was given to me on a card sent by the Santa Fe Humane Society where he was cremated. It is indeed true.

  4. While cats, iguanas, and goldfish pretty much go their own way, dogs blend their lives with ours. In so doing, they sincerely flatter us by adopting many of our own traits, filling in our empty spaces, and making us feel complete. So the loss of a dog as dear as Magic is catastrophic on a small and deeply personal scale, and we start thinking about words like “irreplaceable” and phrases like “one of a kind.” And they do fit. Regrets and best wishes to his family. Godspeed to Magic. Life well-lived. Job well-done. The stars will guide you home.

    1. Thank you Rob. I do have some friends and family members who might take exception to grouping cats with goldfish however! M

  5. We mostly have rescues that have found thier way into our lives, but Chapman’s First Gear aka Woodgi was given to me me when he was 7 weeks old, and later came his mom and dad. Woodgi, never did anything worng, or bad. He by the way was a lovely little Boston Terrier, smaller than most of this breed but he was picture perfect. He only wanted to snuggle, play with his toys and show his gentle love to all, people, dogs, cats, even our horses. Sometimes after bedtime I would hear my precious Woodgi softly looping through the house with one of his favorite toys, from room to room he would go just having fun by him self.
    I cherrished this little man, I was able to raise a little girl by Woodgi before having him nuetered, and now she is the love of my life. She is Keeper, she isn’t much like her daddy, she is totaly glued to my side, she has a few toys that are her favorites, but it’s me that lights her heart.
    My dear sweet Woodgi will be gone for 2 years the 25th of Feb. I miss him trerribly, he passed this earth in my arms when his sweet tender heart failed to beat another time. I am commeted to the health and care of all our dogs, all 9 of them. We have 7 rescues, and they came to us through all forms of situations, all were abusive, or neglectful. They will live out thier lives with us and I will forever be thankful that I was able to help one more dog out of a bad situation and into loving arms. I thank God for the oppertunity to do my part.

    1. Thank you Katie. I have a lovely picture of Woodgi in my head now to cheer me up. And thank you so much for your work in rescue–we have our Yoda, a tiny Chihuahua terrier mix, who keeps us laughing, even when we’re crying. M

  6. So sorry for your loss Mary Ann, it was a beautiful tribute to your old man. It is truly never long enough when you have a special friend like Magic. RIP to your old man. How nice he got to enjoy the good life in NM for a short time.

  7. “I think their spirit goes up there, to Sirius, the Dog Star.  I can’t imagine anything else that would keep it burning so bright and constant.”
    Captain Ezra Harper in, DogStar by Donald Windham

    It’s always too soon.

  8. You have my sincere condolences, as you well know. Who can tell what the invisible factor besides great care and unconditional love that blind luck really is? A friend’s 12-year-old male Irish Wolfhound just passed away as well (a veritable Methuselah!) Years ago our 3-year-old Drusilla spiraled downwards from Field Champion to deceased in the space of 9 days. Both were as well loved as Magic. Keep reminding yourself how fortunate you were to have one another. And that you made him happy in all things…

  9. My deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family with the loss of your beloved Magic. I read your post three times this morning…giving me precious moments to release tears not only for you and Magic, but for myself and remembering my pups along the way who left me way too soon…Angel, Buddy, Duke, Danka. The honest, unconditional love they bring to our lives is surely the greatest of gifts we could ever hope to receive. All these “little loves” remain in our hearts forever–becoming the “best of us” and, when they pass on, leave us a grand legacy of even greater love, compassion and goodwill for all living creatures on this earth. In my humble opinion…
    I am comforted by the last two lines of a poem read at my beloved son-in-law’s memorial last August… “And never, never be afraid to die, for I am waiting for you in the sky!” Rest in peace, dear Magic…

  10. Maryann, you have captured the essence of our relationship with dogs beautifully. One never appreciates fully how big a role they play in our lives until they are suddenly gone. I have always wondered, moreover, how this species more than all others made the decision eons ago to forego the laws of nature and life in the wild and place their trust and their love in us. I do not fully buy the argument that it was solely because we gave them a free meal. Whatever that cause was, though, it would be wonderful if we could bottle it and give it to so many people around the planet.

  11. Sigh. Rooney has really slowed up this winter and may be thinking about joining Magic and Angelina. She has nothing “wrong” but we have had such a warm winter that there is no invigorating icy morning to be worth getting up for walks! She gets hugged a lot by the 2 3/4 yr old g.daughter Zoe, who adores her. I am hoping it will be a teaching moment for Zoe when she leaves, although I need some expert guidance on handling That.
    So I mourn with you about the siblings!

    1. Thank you Pat. Rooney must be the last of their two litters. How strange, and what a testimony to your care, that the little puppy born without a foot survived the longest of all. She is a treasure. May she live forever. M

  12. “Not the least hard thing to bear when
    they go from us, these quiet friends,
    is that they carry away with them so
    many years of our lives.
    Yet, if they find warmth therein, who would
    begrudge them those years that they
    have so guarded?
    And whatever they take,
    be sure they have deserved.”
    – John Galsworthy

    We lost our deerhound two years ago to the same disease and the memories of our time with him are the balm that makes his absence bearable. Please accept my deepest sympathies on the loss of your boy, and my sincere wish that you and your family find solace as you move forward.

  13. Always, always – a sad and difficult time. “But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.”
    Antoine de Saint Exupery

  14. I’m so sorry to read of your loss. I lost my cat of 18 yrs 3 weeks ago. Well I didn’t lose her, but you know what I mean. He was ailing, failing, and I suppose it was the right decision. My tears feel like they’re more for me. There’s no soft ear to caress on the pillow next to me, no chin to scratch as I fall asleep. I couldn’t bear to see him suffer any more, I couldn’t put him through new ordeals. It’s so hard.

    1. Vicki, we lost our nearly 18 year old cat a year and a half ago. We still miss him. It is so hard, indeed. So sorry for your loss. M

  15. I am so, so very sorry with all of my heart for the loss of your beloved Magic. He was so well loved.

    His final days in New Mexico may have been his finest and most wonderful times….. ❤

  16. …love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” 

    ~ Kabil Gibran

    I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?

    ~ Walter Scott

    1. Fran, thank you SO much for your kind words and both those quotes. As you might know, Walter Scott was a huge fan of the deerhound–he called his own deerhound Maida “the most perfect creature under heaven.” I can certainly relate to his words. M

  17. They say condolences are best sent within a week or so, but I just read this beautiful eulogy.. So, please accept mine for a dog who seemed to epitomize what a good dog should be. May your memories be joyous and help to fill the huge void that has been left.

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