Jul 5, 2009

Max: 1994 - 2009

I made an unplanned visit to my parents' last weekend to say a final goodbye to their dog, Max. (Read his story here.) He was a magnificent dog, but fifteen years is a long life for a shepherd/husky mix. His mind and soul were still there, but his body was tired and every time he fell, a little bit of his dignity chipped away. He still walked every day to the end of the driveway with my dad to get the mail, but it could take a while and he could no longer carry anything back, which must have been awful for him.

A trip to the beach in Ocean Shores last March.

The day before he died, we lifted him into the car and drove to the beach, where he meandered forever and resisted going back to the car. He ate an ice cream cone on the drive home (an old treat from his agility training days), and enjoyed a cheeseburger back at the house (an old treat from his therapy dog days). Later, my mom fried a steak for a bedtime snack, and we all had a few bites. It was a good day.

Tuckered out.

He happily finished that steak the next day while we waited for the vet. The weather was perfect and we put him in the shade so he could be outside, which he loved. He went peacefully, with the hands of the three people who loved him most stroking his body. After they took him, we cried and sat around trying to convince ourselves it was the right thing for Max. It was.

His credentials.

My dad and I used to joke about starting a Church of Max, because he was all about love — pure, unconditional, joyful love. There wasn't a malicious bone in his body (except for that one unfortunate squirrel incident), and I swear he had a better sense of humor than most people I know. He was so smart, he learned what "walk on the beach" sounded like when spelled out. And he smelled yummy, behind his ears where his fur was all velvety.

Last week, in the garden.

We're heartbroken now, but so grateful he came into our lives. I don't at all like the idea of a world without his unique energy, especially for my parents. But I like to think some of his love for life rubbed off on all of us and will stay forever. Stay, Max.

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