Sunday, May 13, 2012

Max.

When I met Max, he was still a puppy. He might've been nine or ten months old, with those perfect white adult teeth that hadn't seen any wear, except where one was exposed to the roots, where his gums had been stripped away.

The Erstwhile Hub saw him on his way to work and called me, saying, "There's a dog trying to die in the empty lot two doors down." My response was, "Not on my watch."

I went and lured him to our front yard and tried to feed and water him, but he didn't eat or drink much. He was emaciated, his eyes and cheeks sunken, and he looked exhausted. I loaded him into the Honda hatchback I had at the time and drove him to a vet I'd not been to before because my usual vet was closed on Wednesdays.

They told me he was probably very old and probably wouldn't make it, and showed me the X-ray of his gut, full of rocks and sticks. For some reason, I said "do what you have to do to save him." They ran two liters of fluid into him over a couple of days, keeping him sedated so he wouldn't chew the IV out of his arm. I went to see him both days, kneeling down by his cage and saying, "You must not die, you must not die."


He had a cracked hip and two cracked ribs and heartworms from hell and torn-up pads. The vets figured he must've been thrown or fallen from the back of a pickup, and walked all the way from the highway to my neighborhood.

When El Erstwhilo and I divorced, I left Max behind. I was moving into a 600-square-foot apartment and working sixteen hour days, and I couldn't take him. Later, when Erstwhilo thought he might be moving to Ireland and couldn't handle the thought of quarantine, I took Max back. I had just bought a house. Having him made everything better; he was the only thing I missed from my marriage.

Max died Saturday. I was out of town, visiting The Boy in Kansas City. My neighbor called to say that he'd gotten up and boofed around the yard that morning, then had lain down to have a nap and had simply not woken up. I got home this afternoon and found him lying where they'd tucked a sheet over him, looking exactly as though he'd just gone to sleep with his head between his front paws.

There were no signs of distress. He'd gone to sleep in his own back yard and woke up on the other side of the Bridge, where there are dozens of mail carriers on crutches and an ice-cream truck with a flat tire.

This is what I'd been praying for. Whatever Thing is there, out there in the Universe, watching over deserving dogs, gave Max a death in keeping with his life: quiet, gentle, without fuss or pain.

He was my Zoater-Bloater Max-Nose Spoon-Hound, and I'll miss him. I'm thankful, though, that his last days didn't involve vets and needles and fear.

Happy Trails, buddy. May many kitty-bellies present themselves for snorgling on the other side. I'll see you in a little while, okay? :)

55 comments:

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Words are not adequate except to say What a joy that he went to sleep; it's what's wished for every one of us sentients.

JennyExplainsItAll.blogspot.com said...

It's a little mean to make me bawl on Mother's Day, but I was cheered up that Max "went to sleep" in the only literal sense of the term. In the end, we all want to wake up dead, right? I'm so sorry he's gone, but I'm happy you were together for so long. Both of you were lucky!

Good dog, Max! Very good dog.

Becca said...

Oh kerrist, Jo, I'm in tears here. I'm so desperately sorry - and yes, also glad that he managed to go in Just The Right Way.

Thankyou for being the first and best thing in Max's life.

Hope you're coping OK.

Anonymous said...

My sympathies -- gentle and quiet, the way to go, but still a void in your heart. Take care of yourself.

messymimi said...

Please accept my condolences for your loss. You gave him a wonderful life.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss but glad it was so peaceful. Every day I look at my 14 year old German Shepherd that I rescued from the pound and wonder if this will be the day. And pray that he goes quietly in his sleep

Penny Mitchell said...

Among some of the greater blessings in my life are the days I've spent in the presence of Max and his huge-hearted mistress. He is the BEST BOY EVER, and the universe gave him the passing that he so deserved.

I love you and I pray for peace for your heart...I know it's going to get rough in the next few days and weeks. What a blessing, though. What an insane, insane blessing. The perfect ending on the perfect life on this plane.

And you know he'll be waiting for you. He will.

08armydoc said...

Oh, so sorry that Max has passed. But I'm glad for you and for him, that he passed easily at and peace. You're a good dog-Mom

IMQTPI said...

Awww... You made me cry!

I am sooo sorry for your loss, but equally glad that he went comfortably, and on his own terms.

He was lucky to have met you - and you were equally lucky to have had so much "good" with him...

I'll give my girls extra belleh-rubs tonight.

Take care!

Mel said...

I am so sorry for your loss and that you weren't in town when it happened. I've been reading your blog for ages & I know Max meant a lot to you. I love that you saved him from an abandoned lot, how adorable is that? I'm glad it was calm and easy though. He can chase the squirrels and boof with my girl Agnes, she'll show him the ropes up there.

Bardiac said...

You're right, but I'm sad for you anyway. He sounded like the best of dogs. /comfort

danielle said...

I am so sorry for your loss. But you are so lucky that the decision was made for you. In Dec we had to make the decision for our Jack, and jsut 2 weeks ago for my daughter's dog who came to live with us in August. Like our two dogs, your Max lived a wonderful life with you - and you with him.

Lori Christenson said...

That is what we all hope for our furbabies; go to sleep and not wake up.
I am so sorry for your loss.

Uro*MA said...

So very sorry for your loss. :(

Kristin said...

Many hugs to you. I am so sorry for your loss.

Sara said...

You have my deepest sympathy.

bobbie said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby, Jo ~
Maybe the Bridge continue keeping him in all the things he loved.
You made SUCH a loving difference in his life ~ how blessed he was to find you!
My boyos and my sweet new baby girl send love & face kisses ~

Lara said...

Oh man, I'm crying. My heart aches for you. I promise you, Auntie Jo, that I'll hug the Boomer dog extra hard tonight. I am so sorry for your loss.

terri c said...

Oh, no, I am so sorry. You are right, it was the perfect end, but still... Hugs to you. The father of a friend of mine died a few days before. He was a magnet for every dog in the neighborhood--all loved him and he loved them. I like to think of him keeping on eye on Max for you.

Moose said...

I'm so very sorry.

k8 said...

I teared up when i saw the post's title, because i knew. I'm just a lurker here, but a religious lurker (er, in that i lurk religiously--you know what i mean) and i've long been a fan of Mr. Max. I'm glad he just went to sleep, that it was easy and that he was at home. And i'm glad you found him and fought for him and loved him. <3

Alyssa Queen said...

I'm so sorry for your loss :( He had a great life because of you and you're right, that is the best way to go. Again, I am so sorry and I hope you're doing okay.

Rosanna said...

I'm crying now, reading about Max; and although it's the type of death I wish for my husband and for myself............ (i.e., peaceful, quiet, and pain-free)............ I am so, SO sorry, Jo.

By your words about Max (and occasional pictures), he "felt" almost like my own pet. My husband and I don't have any pets of our own; however, we're surrogate parents to our neighbor's beautiful orange marmalade (ex-barn) cat "John," who relies on us for any attention/play/love that he receives in his life.

I'll never forget showing my husband your sweet (7/28/11) picture of Max, lying with his head on your nice, cool, bathroom tile floor----we were both just so touched. Max was a good, *Good* Boy; and we will............ along with you............ miss him greatly.

Nurse said...

You were great to rescue him and give him a good life.

BossNurse said...

I've been reading you for quite awhile now, and have always loved your Max comments. Reminds me of how much I love my furbaby, Ginger. I'm so glad he died in peace, and I am sending you my deepest condolences. Take care.

jimbo26 said...

God bless the both of you .

TheSchaft said...

My condolences on your loss. Like everybody else, I'm just happy that it was a gentle night he went into.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for you, so glad for Max it was a smooth trip. You gave him a great life!

Anonymous said...

That's what happened to the dog I had as a kid, too. He was 16, took a nap in the backyard, and never woke up. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's a shame they're only with us for so long.

Mrs C ♥ said...

(Semi-long-term reader, first or second time commenter...)

This completely made me cry (esp. the line 'to sleep in his own back yard & woke up on the other side of the Bridge.') Beautiful words for what I'm sure was a beautiful soul. You were a great momma to rescue him & take care of him for so long. My pup is 8 with epilepsy. Not sure how much longer she'll be with us but I hope she goes as Max did.

Sorry for your loss. Sometimes losing our animal friends is harder than when we lose our human friends. Must be their innocence.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Jo. Max was the best boy.

--Queen Anne's Lace

Margaret said...

I am so sorry for your sad loss.

clairesmum said...

Oh dear.....glad his passing over seems to have been so peaceful...what we all would choose if we could...you gave him a lot of time and even more love...take good care of you, right now.

Comrade Physioprof said...

So sorry.

RehabRN said...

So sorry to hear jo. I always think of that Rainbow Bridge poem:
http://www.legendofrainbowbridge.com/poem.html

I know there's a dog waiting for me there, and WildDog will be too, when his day comes (too soon...he's an old guy, too).

Middle-aged Diva (Carol) said...

My heart's breaking for you... peaceful, but oh, how you'll miss him. Sending many hugs your way.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Jo. I'm grateful you and Max had each other, grateful his passing was gentle, and I wish you healing.

Allison said...

So sad to read of his passing, but so happy it was so peaceful. We should all be so lucky with our exits.

Anonymous said...

a gentle passing. boof.

Geri said...

So very sorry for your loss, Jo.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your loss, but he had a lovely end. Looking at his photo, he was very handsome!

I am sure you will always remeber him with happiness.

Alison (UK)

Birdy said...

i love max just from reading your stories about him. sending peace and love your way.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jo, I am SO sorry for your loss. My heart broke for you reading your post. I am glad he went peacefully in the place he loved. He was such a good boy to you! I too live alone with just my 3 kitties. They are like my children and when it was time to say goodbye to my oldest (she had been with me for 13 years) it was awful. I do believe you will see him on the other side, happy, playing without any of the old age aches and chasing squirrels and what not. hang in there and cuddle with your kitties.

Tasha said...

I'm so sorry you had to come home on mothers day ( or any day!)and find that your fur baby had passed on :-( many many condolences, although those are never really enough in this situation, I know... And thank you for sharing with us all... Such a sad story, but told with such beautiful words...

PaedsRN said...

Having read everything you've ever posted, I almost feel like I knew Max. I'm so glad he had an easy passing. Making an RSPCA donation in his honour, RIP.

Cr0W$C@lling said...

Pouring one out for the Dog who was a Universe.

Ivan Ilyich said...

What a touching story — there is no love purer than that of a dog for a person who has rescued it and given him or her a better life.

Chris said...

Oh no........no, no. Not your sweet Max. I agree, at least there were no vets, no pain, and he was at home. He can visit with my Sadie (dog), and he can snorfle my mom's many cats that are on the other side of the Bridge. They love snorfling.

Ann Stone said...

A friend of our's, Jack, went into the hospital to have a routine surgery and left his constant companion in the form of a Dachshund named Missy with another of our friends, Roselle. Roselle went out to the pen she'd left Missy in one afternoon and found she had passed gently away during the afternoon. She was beside herself. What would she tell Jack? He would be devastated. Before she'd devised a plan for breaking the news, she received a phone call. Jack had had an MI and passed away, unexpectedly that day. We figure he said, "Come on, Miss," on his way out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Oh I am so sorry. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry.

Elyse said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Max boy passing on. You really brought his personality to life with your posts about him.

Grandma said...

I'm so sorry. This made me cry. It's so hard when our pets leave us - one way or another.
sheila

New Nurse said...

I came back to read this post even though I had read it before. My beloved YOUNG cat was just diagnosed with cancer. She has been sick with allergy issues most of her life until this past March. She's been happier than I've seen her in a long time since then, only to have this slap us in the face. I'm a mess even thugh she is still here, happy even. She has no clue, I'm sure, just seeing her parent as a basket case. I actually do hope she is able to not suffer & just slip away like your boy...but not yet.