Monthly Archives: September 2010

My Max

Rainbow Bridge

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors.

Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge, there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush and green grass. When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.

There is always food and water, and warm Spring weather. Those old and frail animals are young again. Those who have been maimed are made whole again.They play all day with each other.

But there is only one thing missing. They are not with their special person who loved them on earth. So, each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up. The nose twitches, the ears are up, the eyes are staring, and this one suddenly runs from the group.

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet, you take him in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.

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I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts and feelings about this for the last 10 days. I’m still not even sure what to say but it is necessary for me to write about it in order to get through it. I’ve been able to carry on with life with a smile on my face even but my heart aches. I’m writing this as my tribute to my dog, Max, who recently passed. This is a long post and might be sad if you’re an animal lover. Please don’t feel obligated to read it.

Max

March 3, 1998 – September 12, 2010

Brian and I were good friends in high school. My freshman year he got a border collie puppy, Shelly, around Christmastime. I was so crazy about his puppy that I thought it would be neat for me to get a dog of my own. I asked my parents and of course they said no since we already had a dog and didn’t need another. They said they didn’t want a dog around that would shed or be smelly inside. They also didn’t want to have another mouth to feed. I decided to do some research on dogs and see if I could find a loop hole to this.. a dog that was tiny, didn’t shed and didn’t smell. I came across Italian Greyhounds after spotting a neighbor with an IG and a whippet while I was outside running. At that point, they were the most beautiful and graceful creatures I had ever seen. They were gentle, happy, and loyal dogs. My neighbors had nothing but great things to say about them. I knew that my parents would probably say no to a whippet so I began to do more research into Italian Greyhounds. No shedding, little to no smell, minimal exercise requirements, small size, would rather be curled up on a couch than anything, family dogs, gentle, loyal.. the list goes on and on. I presented my findings to them as “The Perfect Dog.” And boy did Max live up to that.

In April of that year, around my 15th birthday, I finally talked them into letting us just “go see” some Italian Greyhound puppies in the Houston area. I had hoped that they would give in after seeing such cuteness but I couldn’t imagine my parents doing that. We pulled up to the breeder’s house and went inside. That’s when I first saw my Max. Love at first sight without a doubt. He was perfect. He looked like a baby deer. My dad got a huge grin on his face and casually said “we’ll take him” or something along those lines. I was shocked. I swore to my parents I would take good care of him and be “responsible.”

I surprised myself even at how much and how quickly I fell in love with Maxie. He never turned into “an old dog” or a “boring dog.” I went to college 4 years later and was not able to take Max with me. I came home every single weekend to see him and my family. My time at that college (in Austin) was limited to just 1 semester and then I moved back home.

Max was not the jealous type when it came to other dogs, but he did have a problem with boyfriends. He quickly let them know that he had his eyes on them. Thankfully he accepted Brian (after some time and hard work). We got married and Max came with us to our first apartment and has been with us ever since except for some short periods when he would stay with my family.

Everybody that met Max loved him and he loved everybody. He didn’t have a shy bone in his body. He loved the very young and the very old and everybody in between.

I’ll never forget some of the things Maxie did that were so cute. He was such a sun lover. Being short-haired, he would often get very cold and look for the spots where the sun was coming in the house or he would lie down outside and soak up the rays. Over time, this did lead to skin cancer and he had to have surgery for it in January. After the surgery he was right back out in the sun. We tried limiting it but it was nearly impossible. He did this up until the day he passed.

He was my running partner for years. He could go 5-7 miles with no problem at all. We’d stop for water but otherwise he was content staying right by my side the whole way. We ran religiously until he was about 7.5 years old and I didn’t want him to overdo it.

He was such a funny eater. He rarely ate all of his food in one meal. He’d eat his food and leave a perfectly divided 1/2 line. Bayley does this too. There was also a point where he would grab a couple pieces of food out of his bowl and carry them to a rug and eat them. He couldn’t sit on tile, only carpet and rugs. That was so funny. Right before feeding him he’d do the cutest little prance. He was such a happy boy.

Aside from being under the covers in bed, his favorite seat in the house was behind someone in a computer chair. He was such a little warm bodied guy. I can remember being so cold in bed and having him come curl up next to me and warming up right away. I am so used to having him next to me while I sleep that I still find myself moving carefully in bed so that I don’t disturb him. I think I miss him most when I go to sleep at night.

Max and Shelly each lived to be around 12 1/2 years old. Shelly lived 12 years 7 months and 1 day and Max lived 12 years 6 months and 9 days. They died only 3 months apart. Each died of cancer. Both amazing dogs. Both missed very much.

About 10-14 days before he died, Max started to have some strange behaviors that were alarming but they only seemed to last for a day and then he was fine. About a week later they started up again and that’s when I took him to the vet. They did some blood work because they thought it would be related to his kidneys or liver. I got a call on Thursday, September 9, from the veterinarian saying that Max was extremely anemic and his liver function tests were very abnormal. She said that his symptoms and lab values aligned perfectly with liver cancer, probably a tumor that was bleeding. She told me that I would probably have to make a very hard decision in a few days. There is still such a fog associated with that day. I still had hoped that it might be something simple that antibiotics could cure. The next few days were so up and down, which she told me could happen with liver disease. He’d be doing so well one day and then terrible the next. On Saturday, September 11th he had such a good day. He ate and drank and got up to go outside. I was so encouraged by this. I went to work that night and when I came home the next morning, it was a different story. He was very lethargic, refusing food, refusing water and was bleeding. I slept for only a few hours and woke up to Brian telling me that Max was not doing good. I got up to spend time with him. He wasn’t able to urinate that day. The bleeding got worse. I knew it wasn’t looking good but it was Sunday and only emergency vets were open. Max got up out of his bed and stumbled over to us. I could tell he was weak so I picked him up. That’s when he had his first seizure that day. We knew at this point we needed to get him to the vet. He was so weak and appeared to be in pain. We called a vet that was about 40 minutes away that we knew we could trust. We left immediately. Max had 2 more seizures in the car on the way. I held him close the whole time. On the last seizure he didn’t seem to come back from it. We were right outside the vet and I carried him in as fast as I could. Max passed on his own about two minutes after we arrived, only about 3o seconds after my family arrived to say goodbye. I was grateful he went on his own terms but felt so guilty for not helping him sooner. Brian and I took him home and he is buried in our back yard. We’ve ordered a garden stone personalized for him and we hope to make a nice flower garden where his grave is. I owe him that much. This is what I currently have next to my bed so I can see him and remember him every day.

I got this little figurine years ago and never imagined how much it would mean to me one day… It looks just like him.

Finally, to finish up this very long post (sorry) I’ve put together a slide show/story of Max and me to music. I searched for a while for the perfect song and I couldn’t decide on one so I picked two. I chose “You are my Sunshine” sung by Carly Simon and “Love” sung by Kenny Loggins. Max was such a light in my life for so many years. He gave me so much love and I am forever grateful to him for his loyalty. He truly was a ray of sunshine, and was my little sunshine until my loving husband and wonderful little girl came into my life.

9 months!