In Memory of The Main Man - Max (Erinmoor Jupiter) 19 January 1999 - 30 October 2010
by Peter L Hartley
The Main Man - at National Gundog Show
What can I possibly say about the loss of my best friend?
The dog who, as a young puppy in 1999, gently climbed upon the bed where I was lying and crying for my late wife (Maura) and who licked my head to comfort me. The dog who made me proud, in March 2000, when he took Best Puppy of Breed at Crufts, and simply enjoyed his Lap of Victory.
The dog who cared so much for everyone, including his Sister (Erinmoor Juno, a/k/a Ellie-May) that he invented games to amuse her – and put out his back in doing so, such that he couldn’t stand properly at the Crufts Show in 2001 and so he could only be awarded the 2nd in Class (Postgraduate) and not take the BOB crown he deserved. Nevertheless, I left Crufts in 2001, knowing that I had the Best Dog in the Breed with me. (No offence intended, to anyone else there.)
But not only was he a showman, his hunting instincts were superb. He hunted just like his greatgrandmother, Sally (Thaxmead Bustling Moorhen of Erinmoor), but always took care to ensure that he never lost sight of me. And, when I took him out, years later, he immediately sat at the peg, as though he had been trained for that (he had not) and kept searching for any birds coming over.
Max was a gentleman. He had a great heart, both emotionally, and sadly, in fact. Unknown to me, Max had suffered (sometime) an awful lungworm attack, and so was on medication since Christmas Eve 2007. It was discovered because he started snoring whilst sleeping in his favourite position, lying across my feet. But I never begrudged him any of the veterinary fees – how could I, when he would look into my eyes with expectation and love? To feel him gently take my arm in his (large) mouth; the dreadful experience when he was hit a glancing blow from a car leaving a car park some years ago, and I walked the Surrey Hills for 36 hours, until I heard that Max had been found, unharmed, and we were reunited. (The story made the local newspaper.)
As well as being extremely devoted to, and protective of, me, he took his duties as Head of the dog household very seriously. He would run forward to check on his girls, then run back to check that I (and any walking companion with me) was OK.
One time, when some foolish people were out on the Heath, and first Ellie-May, and then her Mother (Erinmoor Pax, a/ka Tara, RIP), ran back from a concealed dog when I was showing a Lady Keeper how Munsters worked, Max went forward and I found him with a neck grip on an errant, uncollared, untrained Rottweiler. Obviously, Max released the other dog on my command – Max feared nothing, except losing me.
Some 3 years ago, I was delighted to be asked if a lady with a pretty Munster bitch could use Max as stud dog. The litter was something special and I had the pick of the litter – Ironlake Mystic by Erinmoor, a/k/a Tally. Ellie-May took on the role as foster mother, until Tally’s first season, when she became jealous of the attentions Max was paying to his daughter. Nevertheless, I found a way around that (I was raised since babyhood with dogs), and we eventually had a happy family. When Tally went AWOL on her first shoot, it was Max who (6 hours later) found his daughter.
Earlier this year, I moved from the home I loved (and where Max was born, by the front door) for personal reasons. After a spell in kennels with his sister and daughter, whilst I organised a new home, Max and the girls moved in; but sometimes Max looked at me and his eyes would say, "OK, Dad, when are we really going home?" But eventually, the new mess became home to Max and Ellie-May and Tally, and me.
Today, before I went out shopping, I took all three dogs for a brief constitutional by the nearby canal. All seemed well, until I saw that Max had slipped and fallen on the wet towpath. He valiantly tried to get up, and collapsed again. I rushed to him, and raised him – but that heart problem had beaten me. Max died in my arms.
Everything else is irrelevant. All I would add is, if people were half as good as dogs, this would be a far better world, and, Max, you will always be loved – but now it is time for Maura to cuddle you, and for you to take care up there. See you in a while, my Best Friend, but only God knows when.
All my Love, Peter