Saying goodbye to a loved pet can be devastatingly difficult.
Knowing when to set them free from the horrible pain of a disease like cancer is a decision that carries so much weight, any light or joy means the world.
For Maggie, a St. Bernard with cancer, her final days with owners Marianna Wilson and Elijah Saltzgaber were bittersweet, filled with the specter of the looming Monday morning appointment at the veterinarian’s office but also the blissful camping and hiking that she loved in her youth.
The couple, who run Happy Tails Dog Hiking, enjoyed the beautiful Utah outdoors with Maggie, later writing on Facebook, “We wanted to share in one last weekend filled with paddle boarding (her favorite), food, camping, playing with her ball, more food and belly rubs. Our outing was incredibly bittersweet. Seeing her big brown eyes take in all the stimuli of nature had us doubting our decision. Could we wait another week? Another month? Ultimately, all our bargaining and second guessing led us right back to our want to free her from the pain of her cancer.”
But there was one more request they had, a request that Utah in September simply couldn’t accommodate — Maggie loved snow, and it would mean the world for her to have a snowbank to relax in. So, Elijah took to social media, asking the community if anyone with a shaved ice machine or other equipment could help them.
It's not always about skates and hockey pucks at County Ice Center. Today was a bitter sweet day, as we had an…
Their request spread, as these things do, until it found just the right place — Salt Lake County Ice Center heard their request, and immediately got to work pumping out snow for Maggie’s last weekend.
“It’s not always about skates and hockey pucks at County Ice Center. Today was a bitter sweet day, as we had an opportunity to help make a difference for a very special dog, Maggie,” the team wrote on Facebook. “After a few tender conversations they made plans to get Maggie her snow! This morning we filled bins, buckets and the back of his van with the ice shavings from the rink. Maggie enjoyed her last morning with her two favorite things, snow and her owners.”
With their bounty of out-of-season snow, the couple “unloaded the snow and made a throne for our girl to rest in one last time.” Maggie passed a few short days later, peacefully and without pain.
Out for a hike with a pack of lovable dogs, some that had been Maggie’s adventuring buddies for years, Saltzgaber wrote, “It started gently raining at the beginning of our hike today. The rain was coupled with an equally gentle breeze. I often look for meaning and symbolism in things, but I can assure you, Maggie was with us today. Her spirit was gentle, and that comfort was precisely what we were enveloped in. Today was calm, gentle, cleansing, and sad. I know the coming days and weeks will bring up so many emotions. Healing is a journey, and it takes time. But there is no better place to work through the loss of a loved one than in the company of my surrogate dogs in the beauty of nature.”
Watch Maggie enjoy her private snowbank in the video below:
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