After Maggie came a series of disastrous dogs. Chessie, who was cute for about 6 weeks and then turned out to be a slightly sadistic, poofy creature who had absolutely no interest in our family. Chip, a dog so neurotic that I'm sure the trail he wore between the gates in our backyard will be found by future archeologists and mistaken for a defensive ditch built by some ancient culture. And the two labs Will and I acquired in our first years together, Morgan and Hennessy. They weren't exactly disastrous. Although that time Morgan ate one out of each pair of shoes I owned was pretty bag. But they were never Maggie. Not even close.
And so years of doglessness passed. Until one day, six years ago, when I got a bee in my bonnet to get another dog. The right dog this time. A dog just like Maggie. Literally. Another springer. A female, liver colored springer spaniel to be exact. Why mess with a good thing?
Nigella, who almost instantly became "Jelly" when a two year old Evelyn misunderstood the name we had given the dog and declared "My Jelly!" at their first meeting, is the dog that got me over Maggie. She is very like the original, in looks and temperament, although different enough to hold her own, equal place in my heart. Like Maggie, she thinks our cats are her puppies. Like Maggie, she is patient and kind and always ready to sit with you, in good times and bad. Being dressed up in a tutu or covered with stickers or used as a pillow is fine by her. She would rather be wearing a headband and socks curled up next to you than be alone without the embarrassing garb of a dog much loved by children. When she is not at my feet, she often sleeps at the end of Evelyn's bed, which was Briton's before her and mine before that, long ago. Same bed, (almost) same dog. She is their Maggie. She is the dog my children will never get over. And thank goodness for that.