I am without words. I only have tears that are spilling down my cheeks and dripping onto my keyboard. And all because of a crazy dog that I didn’t even want, who wormed his way into my life (after he stopped barking in his crate) and became an extension of my heart.
I knew I was sunk that day that they all said, “Can’t we just stop by Rescue Village and look at the cats and dogs? We won’t bring one home.” Famous last words. We went in, worked our way back to the puppies…..and there he was. The last of a litter of five puppies of uncertain parentage who had been left in the “No Questions Asked Dog Drop Door” four days before. He was fluffy and black with a skinny tail that had a weird puffball on the end. I think I might have weakly said, “No!?!” but it was of no use.
We came home with an 8 week old puppy. Rescue Village couldn’t even really tell us how big he was going to be……70 pounds it turned out. There wasn’t even anything at home to house or feed a puppy. The cats hated him on sight. And I can tell you that I was REALLY ready to return him after two days of crying all night in his crate. It took a bit of time but we figured each other out. I thought, “Oh, he is going to be so nice and quiet and sweet.”
That lasted about a week, until he got used to us, and then it was all crazy all the time.
How could you not love a face like that. Really.
It quickly became apparent that we had acquired perhaps the smartest dog that I have ever know. He was just wicked smart. He house trained in two weeks. He trained to the invisible fence in no time. He didn’t even have to wear the collar, he knew where the line was and he didn’t cross it, even when confronted with a coveted squirrel. He put himself to bed at the stroke of 9PM. We would look around and find that he was already asleep in his crate.
He self punished.
No really. He was so wickedly smart that he knew, after he had done something, or perhaps even as he was planning, that he might as well just go into his crate cuz he was a NoNoBadDog. Most of the time he just took what he wasn’t supposed to eat/chew/have and destroyed it IN his crate and then waited for you to get home and discover what he had done.
He was always sorry……but it never stopped him. Until he was about 10 years old he was also quite likely to put his front paws on the counter and help himself to whatever might be in reach.
An entire stick of butter
Most of a pan of lasagna
Half of a cake
Once his hind legs were no longer strong enough to go for the counter goodies he was a master at digging through the garbage the minute that we left the house, just to see if we had put something in there that might be delicious. Nothing was off limits, including tea bags and popcorn. He ate it all.
Max hated to be separated from his people. Where you were, that is where he wanted to be. If we were in the water at the cottage he would whine and bark until he could join us. If we went in the car, he wanted to go with. If I worked outside he needed to be there with me. If I was in the basement, he was in the basement. The only time that was not the case was when there were sports on the TV. He wanted to be with you, but he was so anxiety-ridden about sports that he would sit right at your feet and pant in terror….but he would sit there. We found, in the last year or so, that if we just told him to go to bed and then closed the laundry room door, he was fine. He just needed to be told that it was OK not to be by us.
Max also wasn’t all that thrilled about having his picture taken. I had to work at it. And work I did. His eyes would melt your soul but he just didn’t want you to know that.
We have known that “This Day” was coming. Last winter was hard on Maxie Poodles. He had arthritis which made it difficult when the weather was cold. He could no longer sit, it was either stand up or lay down. When he would lay down he groaned and once he was down he liked to stay there for a bit as getting back up was a trial. He took to sleeping smack dab in the middle of the floor where you had to walk to get into the kitchen, just so he would be near us. He had a tumor of some kind growing on his belly. We knew it was there. Dr. Jeff and Dr. Jeremy knew it was there. We chose to just monitor it’s size (it was growing and the size of 1/2 a baseball). He had the whole Chryseomonas Luteola thing going on in his sinuses (there is a blog post about it somewhere but I just don’t have the heart to find it right now).
And then there was the incident in January where he had what Dr. Jeff felt was a bleed in his liver. That was very scary. Max was disoriented, he was vomiting, his abdomen was tender. I thought that I was taking him to the vet to have to make this decision that day. Dr. Jeff felt that he could treat Max symptomatically with some steroids and he was right. 48 hours later Max was much better. But he wasn’t as better as he had been before. We could see that we were on a slow slide downward. He slept more. He occasionally turned his nose up at food. He had “gastro-intestinal issues” that we don’t need to discuss here. Yesterday he was restless and would not be denied going out with me while I cut down my hydrangeas. He wanted to be right by my side all the time. This morning when I took him out he seemed a bit slow but not out of the realm of the usual. But when Dan and I got back from the Community Center something definitely wasn’t right. We had only been gone an hour but in that hour he had undergone a change. He wasn’t interested in food. He was restless and couldn’t get comfortable. He had been sick, not once, not twice but three times in the living room. I discovered that when I stepped in it. I took him out and he was sick again in the grass and then didn’t seem to have the energy to walk back to the house.
He wasn’t good.
We called and Dr. Jeff kindly worked us into his busy Friday morning. The news was not good. He was running a fever and his blood work was whacky in some places and fine in others. His blood counts weren’t good. Dr. Jeff thought it might be a number of things, all of which sounded terrible and, none of which could be definitively diagnosed without putting Max through rigorous tests that we were not prepared to do to him. He might respond to some fluids, some antibiotics and some other medications. He might not. We would have had to board him at the vet hospital kennel for the next week as HHBL and I are going to be out of town. Dr. Jeff wasn’t optimistic. In the end HHBL and I felt that what would break our hearts even more that putting Max down today would be to have him make no progress over the next few days and then have to make that decision without us being at his side to hold him and say goodbye.
We chose today.
The people at the Twinsburg Veterinary Hospital were the soul of kindness and caring. We were able to spend as much time with Max as we needed both before and after. We wept as much as was needed. I spent some time just putting my face in Max’s fur and smelling, trying to imprint on my brain and heart the unique smell of my most wonderful dog. When all was done he was laying as if he was asleep, in one of his favorite positions, no more pain. For once in my life, I couldn’t take a picture. I tried. I really tried. But I just couldn’t do it.
I chose to remember his crazy Hobbit feet.
Oh my Max the Magnificent. You were a worthy canine and there will never be another one like you. I would give up clean floors and no poop patrol just to be able to have you here for a bit more time.
Max the Magnificent