My husband and I adopted Max from the local Humane Society in May of 1996. When we closed on our first home June 1st of that year, Max moved in with us. He was a crazy looking puppy with legs way to long for his torso and a wiener dog head that was unfairly put on a black lab body. He was a mutt that always looked like some cruel twist of fate had shrunken his head, he reminded me of Beetlejuice. His ears were floppy and his tail was far too long for the rest of him. It was all of these mismatched features that made me fall in love with him when I saw him in that kennel 13 years ago shaking like a leaf. He was the ONLY dog I considered on that day.
For the first 2 years of Max's life he was my baby. I had become one of those weird dog people who we all make fun of. I even sunk so low as to take him to a pet store one Christmas to have his picture taken with Santa, I required him to wear reindeer antlers. That incident alone traumatized him. Every time I took him on a car ride after that day, he would drool uncontrollably. My obsession with him was not limited to crazy outings. I would leave work at lunch everyday to walk him, I bought him expensive dog food, I napped with him. Max was my life for 2 years, I even had his picture as my focal point when I was in labor with my first baby. I cried when I left for the hospital, truly saddened that I would have to leave Max for a few days to give birth. It was with the birth of my baby that the unthinkable happened, Max went from being a baby to being a dog. An inconvenience he never forgave me for. As the years went by and children continued to join the family, Max continued to lose his status in the family, a normal process I believe as families grow.
Even though Max had become a "dog" in my eyes, my love for him never wavered. I continued with the daily walks, appreciated his unrelenting loyalty, and never forgot the fact that he filled a special place in my heart reserved for the love of a dog. He was a wonderful dog, through thick and thin.
Max did have a tendency to get himself into medical trouble. When my first child was 2 months old, Max ate an entire bottle of Iron enriched vitamins. We nearly lost him to that accident. My husband and I were near broke when that happened and had to charge $2000.00 to our Visa card to cover all the expenses. That did not include the first page of expenses on the bill that the hospital forgot to charge us for. When our son was 9 months old (7 months after the Poly Vi Sol incident) Max got into a fight with a skunk! The skunk won. We had to rush him to the local Animal Emergency Hospital for an eye washing, that cost us a couple hundred dollars. When Max was 4 years old he decided that eating an entire pan of grill grease followed by an unmentionable would make a good meal. That little fiasco cost us $1500.00. About 6 months after that incident, Max got into another fight with a skunk. That time, we used a hose to clean out his eyes. Sadly, those stories are just the tip of the iceberg, Max was the dog that was given more than 9 lives and he used every one of them. This last year, I took him to the vet more times than I can count. In the last year he has had liver failure, a UTI, chronic arthritis, dementia and finally eye cancer. With every visit, I vowed to myself and my husband that I would let go, but I couldn't, until today.
The eye cancer was just too cruel a disease to impose on him so that I could have a few more months with my beloved pet. The vet told me that with his advanced age, his dementia and the fact that he was starting to nip at us, surgery was not a viable option. It was with great anguish and sadness that I finally did relent and agree to euthanizing him today. A decision that has been traumatic for me all week. I feel as though I have been in a tear induced haze since Tuesday. Wishing that somehow I would wake up to find his tumor had shrunk, instead it grew noticeably in the three days between diagnosis and death. As I sit here and write this blog about my dog I wonder why we as humans do this to ourselves. Why do we love a creature that can only give us about 10-12 good years? I feel like I can never do this to myself again. The pain and sorrow I have felt all week, in addition to the truly excruciating pain I felt today is so easy to avoid. Just skip the pet. But, I realize that while he was not a good companion this last year (through no fault of his own), I would not give up the 12 years before that for anything. I loved that dog and he loved me absolutely unconditionally. That is a love humans do not get from other humans, ever. My only hope at the end of this very sad day is that his loyalty to me remained as he was taken to a room without me to be euthanized. While I know that my final act for him was given from love, I will never be able to feel guilt free for taking his life when he loved me completely, unselfishly and with unrelenting loyalty.
Rest in peace Max. I love you and will never forget you.