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Saying goodbye to a pet is never easy, but giving them a special send-off can help ease the pain. That's why Utah-based couple, Elijah Saltzgaber and Marianna Wilson, wanted to treat their Saint Bernard/Newfoundland mix, Maggie Bear, to some of her favorite things before she died. The beloved dog was sadly diagnosed with cancer in July 2021, but the couple made sure she could play in the snow one last time—something that always made her happy.
For the last 10 years, Maggie had been joining Saltzgaber and Wilson on their outdoor adventures. When it was finally time to say goodbye, the family planned one last camping trip. The nature-loving dog enjoyed paddleboarding, swimming, hiking, belly rubs, and eating all of her favorite foods. Although Maggie came back “blissfully tired,” there was still one of her favorite activities missing from the trip—playing in snow.
Since it was September, snow was hard to come by, so Saltzgaber and Wilson began brainstorming on how they could create their own, makeshift snowbank at their home in Salt Lake City, specially for Maggie. Saltzgaber made a request on Facebook, asking if anyone had a shaved ice machine the couple could borrow. When Salt Lake County Ice Center heard of the couple’s idea, they kindly offered to donate multiple buckets of ice shavings from their ice rink. Saltzgaber drove to the Ice Center and filled his van with as much as he could. “When he backed in Monday morning and we opened up the doors to the van, it was just—I can’t even express how overwhelming and emotional it was,” Wilson reveals. “I just broke down crying, he was crying, my mom was crying and Maggie was like, ‘What’s going on, guys?’” The couple piled the ice into a mound in their yard, and placed a sign saying “Maggie’s Snow” on top.
In a touching video posted on Facebook, Maggie is captured enjoying the feeling of snow between her paws, eating ice, and playing with her ball. “We said goodbye to our sweet Maggie Bear this morning,” wrote her parents. “We are devastated and already feel the enormous void of her absence. As difficult as the decision to end her suffering was, we are comforted in knowing she departed with grace and dignity. It was important for us to say goodbye in a calm and peaceful manner.” They added, “Anyone who has gone through this knows it can often be urgent, scary, and stressful for your beloved as well as yourself.”
Saltzgaber and Wilson also admitted their last weekend with Maggie was “incredibly bittersweet.” They wrote, “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.”
Maggie enjoyed playing in the snow so much that she even had a 20-minute nap on top of her personal snowbank. Shortly after, a vet from Lap of Love arrived, and Maggie was put to sleep. In her final moments, she was surrounded by her family and fluffy white snow, knowing that she was loved.