Shwell (Max's nickname) Lounging
My Maxwell was 6 years old when he came to me. He had lived his daily life on a 50' chain and was allowed inside a trailer, lorded over by a tiny rag mop of a dog, only to sleep. He was humble and gracious. He didn't want anything, except to be with me. People talk about Alpha dogs. I think the best Max ever got to was Delta.
I said yes when the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Rescue Society called me about a dog that needed a new home. Sight unseen, a friend of mine took two days to drive across the state of Washington to pick him up.
Max's other mother could no longer keep Max and was required to put him in a kennel in order to place him as a rescue. Until he was picked up, she came every day to walk him. I know Max couldn't understand why she wouldn't take him home. And I know he was really confused when a strange man picked him up and put him in the front seat of his truck.
He barked and barked as if to say, “Where am I going? Who are you?” Max's bark was huge and if you didn't know him, you would think he was angry, possibly vicious. So my friend put Max's leash in the passenger arm rest and drove him all the way across Washington in one day. Max only stopped barking when they pulled into my driveway.
My friend got out and gave me a look, then opened the door for Maxwell. Max looked around and saw me standing in the doorway. I guess he just saw a woman and decided that it was okay. He trotted right in the door, got up on the sofa and laid down: He was home.
Max was magical. If you felt bad, either emotionally or physically, you would quickly feel better once he lay down next to you. I loved Max dearly. He would never give you a face-lick to say “I love you,” but you always knew. Every once in a while, he would sleep with me on the bed by lying in the crook behind my knees. But whenever I left him and returned, he would cry as if in pain to tell me that he loved me and missed me.
Max would do anything for me. Once he figured out that he had to take pills twice a day, I could just give them to him and he would eat them. They weren’t tasty, but Max knew I wanted him to have them and that was ok with him. Same when he figured out he was going to be in diapers. He’d just stand there after positioning himself to make it easier for me.
I went through a lot with Max: Bad relationships, him being hit by a car and costing me $3k while I was unemployed, moving and just a lot of sadness. But he always stuck by me and would make me feel better just by being there.
Max always acted like a big baby and probably a little of a “Sarah Bernhardt.” No matter how old he got, he was always my baby.
I have always looked down upon “dog-women.” Those ladies who talked about their pets as if they were human and their children, calling them "fur babies." But now, I find myself one of them.
I weathered some rough years with Max. I could tell he was showing his age, but I begged him not to leave while I still needed him. He stuck it out with me until I was mostly on my feet.
But Max was sick. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong, but Max couldn’t make it through the day without filling my house with urine even though I had him in a diaper.
And he began “yelling” at me. He would insist on going for a walk, or for some treat, or just for attention. He never did that before, except for his initial ride home; just when someone would come on the property. We actually had to teach him to bark, but he still did it rarely. He was trying to tell me that he wasn’t happy and that it was time for him to go.
I set his time to go about a month out with the vet, hoping to get used to the idea before having to do it. But a week after making the appointment, he started using five diapers an hour. Poor guy would drink massive amounts of water and wet a diaper; then repeat a few times within the hour. I could tell; it was time.
I think early in Maxwell’s life, he was hungry: He was always hungry. And even though I free fed him, he still missed those things he found in trash cans. We stopped at McDonalds on the way to the vet and I picked up five burgers and fries. Once at the vet’s office, I let him have as much as he wanted of his final “happy meal.”
I still miss Max almost every day. He was a marvelous dog that I can’t even begin to describe in 1,000 words. I like the following poem that I think Max would approve of. It was just the way Max was.
I explained it to St. Peter,
I'd rather stay here
Outside the pearly gate.
I won't be a nuisance,
I won't even bark, I'll be very patient and wait,
I'll be here, chewing on a celestial bone,
No matter how long you may be.
I'd miss you so much, if I went in alone,
It wouldn't be heaven for me.
An Unknown Poet
Oh Max, I miss you so much. The only thing that makes me want to believe in a life after this one is the hope that I will see you again. See you later Baby!
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