Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything.
I didn’t plan on adopting Max. I learned last year that a 13-1/2 year old small poodle mix just lost his 99-year-old parent (aka Papa), and needed a home. I contacted my husband and got the blessing to foster Max until we found him one. The alternative for Max would be a shelter. Not the best option for a senior dog as far as I was concerned. Quickly I pulled together those I knew who were looking at the possibility of adopting a pet. I plopped Max down in front of the gathering. He looked around, then turned and proceeded to walk back to me. There were chuckles. I guess he’s yours, Lesley, was the cry. I was thinking to myself, no. We already have four dogs.
Famous last words. That day Max followed me everywhere and for some inexplicable reason, I felt connected to him right away. Jim found him a home, a really good home, but when the day came for them to pick up Max, the wife called me and questioned if this was the right thing as she had a sense that there was a strong bond between me and Max. Maybe not exactly in these words, but she seemed to be saying: he belongs to you. I cried when she offered that. Yes, I sighed, thinking I also belonged to him. Another failed foster arrangement.
Despite his years, Max was quite agile. I called him Mighty Max. He got to romp in the yard, join with the other dogs in barking for his meal, and otherwise, be part of our crazy, noisy clan. He seemed to thrive. He claimed the bed by my desk and would especially hang out with our much larger Dane/lab mix Humphrey, usually in the kitchen waiting for a treat. They were like Mutt and Jeff, almost inseparable.
Today, Max left for the other side. It was rough to say goodbye, but he started ailing quickly and I didn’t want him to suffer. Of course, you question your choice when you feel you need to put a beloved pet down, but in my heart of hearts I knew it was the right thing to do. I whispered to Max that maybe in the next round of lives we will have more time together. In the meantime, I said, go home to Papa; he is waiting for you. Max died peacefully.
I have no regrets. Due to varying reasons senior dogs can end up in shelters for the remainder of their days because people considering adoption are sometimes afraid of taking on an older pet. But love is love no matter how you slice the timeline. Senior dogs need homes too, and still have much to give. Max reminded me of this, day in and day out.
Max now has his official wings and is flying like all angels do. My friend Heather sent me a photo and video of Max that came up on her Facebook page this morning, before I knew and before she knew that he would make his crossing. It was August 14, the day he entered my life. Exactly one year ago. I will have to think on the significance of that fact as I usually don’t believe in coincidences. But for now, I say, goodbye dear friend. You will be missed.