Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Farewell, Max

Our beloved dog Max crossed the rainbow bridge on Monday, February 18th. He was surrounded by love and lots of tears, and it has taken me a week to be able to share the news with you. When I do school visits, students often ask me if Max is still alive. I will have to change my answer now. We are grateful for the almost 13 years he spent with us.

On one of his first days in our home.

Skinny young Max joined us in 2006 when we lived in Houston. I had promised the girls a dog if the yard in our new house there had a fence (which it did), so I decided to surprise them one day. I found a local no-kill shelter and visited to see who they had available. I looked through all the puppies and younger dogs, but nothing felt quite right. Then a back door burst open and Max raced through in all his wiggling glory. He had been outside for a potty break. "Oh, there he is," I said. And that was that.

The girls were very excited, and Scott was happy that I had gotten a boy dog (his only requirement). They all quickly agreed that they liked my dog. And my dog he most certainly was. He was a year old when we adopted him. Though he'd been in some foster homes, he had zero training or discipline. Even walking on a leash was a challenge. He would collapse at corners and kick and nip he if wanted to go a different direction than me for some unknown doggie reason. The border collie half of him liked to nip our heels as we went down the stairs. But after a few sessions with a dog trainer, we figured him out and he figured us out and we all got along fine.

One of the solutions to some of his instinct to chew and gut stuffed animals was that he had to be with me at all times when he wasn't in his kennel or outside. Fortunately, my job mostly kept me at home. He became my shadow, and one of the oddest things now about having him gone is walking around the house alone. I was never allowed to do that. He supervised me, even if I just went to the kitchen or bathroom for a minute. In his last days, when it clearly caused him pain to get up and down, he hated letting me out of his sight. I would try to get him to "stay" or "wait" to no avail.

Dear Max, always underfoot.
One of my favorite Max stories that has yet to make it into a book was his anointing of the Christmas cards. He was well potty trained when we rescued him and had only a single accident in his first days with us. But a few months later, probably late December, he had a little slip up--or maybe it was totally intentional. I had strung some ribbon around a doorway and attached all of our Christmas cards from that year to it, to display them through the holiday. As we were packing things up, I pulled down the ribbon, with all of the cards still attached, and set in on the floor next to me. Max's immediate reaction was to lift his leg on the whole pile. I'm sure I yelled, but I remember finding it funny more than upsetting. What in the world made him do that? I'll never know. Dogs are as weird as cats.

Max's largest life adventure did make it into a book, and there are many true stories about other times in his life tucked in there as well. Max did spend a night alone in the Ozark Mountains after taking off one evening when we lived on our mountaintop in Arkansas.

 Purchase on Amazon

I love that Max will live on for generations to come as The Big Black Beast from my Cats in the Mirror books and as the hero of his own adventure story. Maybe someday I will write another book about just him.

I'll leave you with a sweet video of Max's dinner dance. Dinner was always his favorite time of the day. I love to think of him leaping around and running wild and free now, wherever he is.

Good dog, Max.