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Life of a Queen: from rescue to royalty

Lake Oswego family pays tribute to Maggie, the Lab/Husky mix that united Palisades neighborhood

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Maggie enjoys a play date with her pals (from left): Danielle Jaffe, Allison Jaffe, Olivia Gulka and Manny EhingerMaggie, “the Queen of Woodland Terrace” and a Palisades neighborhood icon, died on Jan. 15, but her reign will live forever in the hearts of those who knew and loved her.

The sweet yellow Labrador/Husky mix was given a second chance at life when a Lake Oswego couple, Joe and Lisa Brisley, opened their hearts and home to her on March 14, 2009. She was rescued from a puppy mill after spending the first seven years of her life giving birth to litters of puppies without humane care or treatment.

“We are eternally grateful to Renee Davidson at Jefferson County Dog Shelter in Madras (now known as Three Rivers Humane Society), who took Maggie in with her seven puppies in their greatest time of need,” Lisa Brisley says.

As usually is the case, Maggie’s puppies were quickly adopted one by one, while Maggie, the loyal mother, sat waiting in the shelter.

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Maggie, the Queen of Woodland Terrace held court outside her Palisades neighborhood home ever since being adopted by the Brisley family in March 2009. “Renee believed in Maggie and she was committed to finding her a loving, forever home,” Lisa Brisley says, “even though all the cards were stacked against her as a 7-year-old, malnourished dog with a history of abuse waiting in a high-kill shelter.”

When the Brisleys brought Maggie home, her body was tired and her spirit was broken. She quickly gained back her weight and health and became a great walking and hiking companion. But Maggie’s greatest need was not only physical, it was also emotional.

“Like all of us, Maggie’s greatest need was love — to be loved and to give love. And she found it in abundance on Woodland Terrace and throughout our Palisades neighborhood,” Joe Brisley says.

Every corner Maggie turned, there was a smiling face greeting her and a soft touch reassuring her that she was loved. And gradually, the light in her eyes started to shine and her spirit was renewed.

And so began the making of a queen.

Not long after Maggie started getting settled into her new life and reveling in the love and attention she was getting from her new human and dog friends, she figured out that lounging at the curbside in front of her house was a great way to meet more friends. She strategically positioned herself so that she had a perfect view both ways down her Woodland Terrace street, so that no one could escape her presence.

“We truly believe that Maggie knew she was given a second chance at life and she wanted to connect with every person, every child and every dog that she could,” Joe Brisley says. “She was a sweet and gentle dog who never demanded anything from us. Everything we did for her was because we wanted to give her the love and the life that she deserved. She was not a diva. She was a real lady, a true queen — calm, classy and royal, with a little bit of country on top.”

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Dozens of friends brought cards and gifts to the Brisley home in the Palisades neighborhood after learning of Maggies death.Maggie created quite a buzz on Woodland Terrace, from passers-by in cars to pedestrians and pooches on foot. For Maggie, being front and center was a free-for-all: warm smiles and waves, drive-by kisses, caresses, massages and even the occasional treat were all regular parts of her day.

Kids walking to and from school delighted her, and the love she received from her sweet friends while they waited for the bus stop was divine! Mailmen, delivery drivers, landscapers, cleaners and other visitors to the neighborhood were caught in her royal web. Daily strolls with her best friend, Cooper — meandering into open garages and surfing driveways for fallen snacks — became a ritual to which she and her friends looked forward.

“Maggie’s life was so rich and rewarding,” Lisa Brisley says. “Everyone called her the queen. Our dear friend, Margaret Moran, said it best: ‘Maggie was a soulful dog, a conduit that drew all this loving energy to her. She brought our neighbors and neighborhood together.’

“Every day, Maggie would hold court on her dog bed — her throne, as our friends and neighbors would say. Her house was the meeting and stomping grounds for everyone,” Lisa Brisley says. “It was a sacred place where we all gathered and got to know each other and became friends.”

Maggie’s “rescue-to-royalty” life story is a testament to the power of hope, love, kindness and forgiveness, and a reminder to us all that our past does not determine our future and that every life has value.

“We miss Maggie more than words can say. We feel so blessed to have had her in our lives and we will carry her in our hearts forever,” Lisa Brisley says. “Who would have thought that a sweet dog like Maggie, who came from such darkness, would, after we adopted her, come into this brilliant, shining light where the love from our dear friends and neighbors surrounded her and raised her to royal status. It is because of them that Maggie had the life of a queen, and she is and always will be the Queen of Woodland Terrace.”

Lisa Brisley is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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