05/15/1996 – 10/29/2009
Max served as proof to me that animals do have souls. His was an amazing one. He was kind and gentle and he served as an example of what it means to live in the moment and to love freely and without conditions. He loved everyone he ever met. He wasn’t one of those dogs who “doesn’t really like guys” or vice versa. He was also incredibly well-behaved, and he always wanted to please his family and be a good dog. Even on his last day, when he was too weak to stand or walk, or even eat, he struggled mightily to rise from his bed each time he had to go to the bathroom so that he wouldn’t have an accident. On that final day, every time we saw him struggle to rise from his little bed we felt a collective bit of hope that he was finally ready to eat or drink something, but each time he was giving an impossibly mighty effort just to please us. It was heartbreaking to see. I still remember taking the trip with my brothers to pick Max out from a litter of free puppies. I was fourteen, and I had only had a dog for a few years as a baby that I didn’t really remember. All of the puppies in the litter were cute, but we were drawn to Max, who was the runt. We wrapped him in blanket and held him the entire ride home while he cried. He cried for the first few days, and we held him all the time. He was always a vocal dog, and when he was older he would grunt and groan with pleasure as he nuzzled into the crook of someone’s arm or moved his head into an earnest ear or head scratching.
Max loved to spend time cuddling with people in his favorite armchair or while they lay with him on the floor stretching, reading, or watching television. He would always nuzzle into someone when he felt that they were hurting or in need of comforting, whether it was my dad while he recovered from leg surgery or just someone else feeling sad. He also loved to chase (and catch) squirrels and rabbits in the backyard, to soak in the sun in the family room, and to play tag in the backyard. He was my mom’s gardening companion for years, and he would follow her around the yard for hours at a time. He loved to be outside when the weather was good, and one could frequently see him laying in the grass with his tongue hanging out and a content expression on his face. He would always jump at the chance to sleep in someone’s bed, even if it meant taking a ride to my girlfriend’s house just so he could do so.
Even towards the end of his life, when his hearing started to go and his eyes were cloudy with cataracts and his arthritis caused him to hobble across the slick wood floor of the kitchen, he would still perk up whenever someone came in through the front door or the garage.
He got sick last Thursday, and being with him for the final moments of his life was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I still expect to see him staring out the front window or greeting me at the door every time I come home, and the house feels empty without him, but he is cancer free for the first time in a long time, living somewhere better without pain or any of the problems that slowed him down later in life.
We all miss Max, but he lives on in all of our wonderful memories of the time that he was here with us. I hope to see him again one day over the rainbow bridge, and in the meantime I draw comfort knowing that he is with us still in spirit, happy and without pain.
In loving memory
Davin, Peter, Tim, Elena, Alan