I have been a country music fan since I first heard Garth Brooks sing “The Dance.” It was no surprise that I later found the whiskey voice of Chris Stapleton just as intriguing. I bought his CD with “Whiskey and You,” “The Devil Named Music,” “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,” and “Tennessee Whiskey.” I watched him win award after award, but I missed a song he put out in 2020 simply called “Maggie’s Song.” When I did hear it, the words floored me for personal reasons, and I would like to share his words.

Let me tell you a story

About an old friend of mine

Somebody left her in a shopping cart

In a parking lot for us to find

The singer then says that he takes this puppy home to their farm for her to follow the kids around and keep them from harm. They named her Maggie.

Run, Maggie, Run

With the heart of a rebel child

Oh run, Maggie, run

Be as free as you are wild.

She is fast as a bullet and delighted them all for 14 years. Then he speaks of her death and how he stayed with her.

It was raining on Monday

The day that Maggie died

She woke up, couldn’t use her legs

So I laid down by her side

She put her head on my hand

Then I told her goodbye

He then buries his dog as he contemplates her life, and he posits,

I can tell you right now

That a dog has a soul

And I thought to myself

As we buried her on the hill

I never knew me a better dog

And I guess I never will.

It was the winter of 1996. My daughter and I had built a home in rural Chebanse. Some time that winter, my daughter came home after school with a puppy! She claimed that she found it on the road and could we keep it? I consented, although I had real doubts if the story of finding her was totally true. We named her Maggie.

Living in the country with two neighbors, there would later be several dogs that ran free and knew each other. We had a dog door in the garage door so that Maggie could come into the garage where she had her bed and she could get warm if it was extremely cold.

Maggie would see me coming up the long lane to the house many a night, and would race my car up the hill. At times she exceeded 35 mph! She was the queen of the hill and was the alpha dog. She only let one neighbor’s collie sleep in her bed. He was quite old and seemed like he had dog dementia, but she watched over him. The other dogs kept their distance from her bed.

One day we noticed that she was not well and it was off to Dr. Murray for a consult. She had the quite serious disease known as heart worm, but with care, determination, and a strong will, she recovered. Then she was struck by a car. She had to be totally confined in order to heal. She was horribly depressed and seemed to be giving up this time. That was when our dog became my wife’s dog. She sat with Maggie, helped her outside to do her business, and kept her from overexerting. My wife would make bacon and eggs and hand-feed her. Her disposition improved and Maggie never forgot who saved her.

The years went by and she turned 14, just like Stapleton’s Maggie. One day the neighbor dogs all went home leaving Maggie alone in the garage. They sensed that something was wrong. Maggie laid down directly behind my wife’s car, a very unusual occurrence. She clearly didn’t want her best friend to leave as she knew she was dying. My wife sat with her through the end.

We buried Maggie on the hill, just like Chris’ Maggie, as the tears ran down our cheeks. She was so much more than a dog.

The song brings moist eyes. The words are so similar to our story. But our Maggie was not a rebel child. She was a gift to our family that cannot be replaced or duplicated. We haven’t gotten another dog and probably won’t. Being retired and living two different places, neither of which is a farm, does not equate to how we believe a dog wants to live. Maggie would not have been happy on a leash or being penned in a back yard. She was born to run free.

Chris, you just hit too many heart chords. An orphaned dog with incredible speed, a loving disposition, and then to be called Maggie. Oh, it does bring back mixed memories. We all miss you, Maggie.

Dennis Marek can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or through his personal email at dmarek@ambltd.com.