Maceo died Monday. He hung on until his family returned from business out-of-town. A heroic effort, really, as the growth in his mouth made it difficult to eat. Maceo belonged to Harmony and Toby, but in a way, he was the Colorado DanceSport studio mascot and belonged to us all.
As with any pet that’s not my own, I made no special note of when or how I met Maceo. He was simply always at the studio, always a part of what was going on. He slept in the sun rays of the dance floor door, or lay in wait for his “favorite” dancers at the front door to the studio. I used to laugh about having to pay a small “tax” of dog treats when I came to practice or dance.
The thing I noticed most about this precious dog was the joy that shown from his eyes and the accompanying wag of tail. When I asked him to sit or go down, somehow this special guy would jump into position with the sharpness dancers try to replicate in their Latin or Rhythm moves. He had us all beat for such precise staccato moves. Pop! He was up and wagging his tail, then–Pop!–he was sitting, then–Pop!–he pounded his small body into the floor. But there was always his doggie smile and that wag to follow. What a treat.
A few months ago, I asked if Maceo had something wrong. He was thin, too thin for a dog his size, and he was getting bad breath. Not like our Maceo at all. Toby and Harmony took him into the vet. Nope. Nothing wrong.
They took him back a month ago, with more blood tests. Maceo was licking his fur and it was matting inappropriately. Again, nothing.
Then, just as we were packing up the studio for its big move down the street, word came. Maceo truly wasn’t well. Cancer. And not something treatable. Stage four. I can’t name the number of people who were crying and tearing up (guys don’t cry, don’t you know–even in ballroom dance circles). Then came the days of holding on.
I don’t know if one goes through the five stages of grief over a dog, especially if the dog is “only” a pal one sees for five minutes each week. But for the days we were together moving boxes and furniture, Maceo was an important reason to take breaks and play. Mitch and Bobbi found doggie ice cream for him, a treat Maceo had never experienced before, but made the most of. Others brought treats, and others brought loving hands to stroke, kiss, and play with this precious friend. Several people offered to help Karen, Maceo’s “grandma” with any last clean-ups or final vet visits. Thankfully, Maceo’s last days apparently didn’t have such drama.
The last time I saw Maceo was the Sunday of the move. He came to the new studio and spent more time than not trying to find a comfortable new spot to lay. Apparently he did — directly under the new studio sign across from the new reception desk. He lay there and let the noise and the busy work swirl around him, a little too tired to snap into a sit or down position.
But when people came up to him, while he was too tired to jump up, his eyes still shown with great love of the people and the attention, and yes, his tail still wagged.
Who could ask for more?
Good-bye, Maceo. You will always be loved.