Our 13 year old dog, Max, died on Monday July 9th, 2018. Two weeks earlier he had emergency surgery to stop bleeding from an unknown source until the pathology report revealed that he had advanced hemangiosarcoma, cancer. After surgery we focused on letting Max live his best life for however long that would be. We had no idea that it would only be two weeks, to the day, and in the end we would have to make the decision to put him down.
Max, being the brave and regal dog he was, rallied after surgery - bright eyed, high energy, hearty appetite, better than he had been in months. We felt so very grateful to be given this gift of time with him. Because we assumed we had "time". But this was to be Max's final lesson to us: do not ever assume you have another day. Live in in the moment and live it well, with zest.
On Friday before Max died, we all hiked our favorite trail at Nashotah Park. Max, with an incision from chest to groin, did better than Millie, our 4 year old Pug.
On Sunday morning, Max stopped eating. By Sunday evening, Max couldn't stand up. Johnny stayed up with him most of the night, soothing him.
On Monday morning, we took Max to our Vet, Dr. Nick Schuett (a truly remarkable human being), who upon examination sadly announced that Max's heart was failing. He believed that another hemangioma had burst and that Max was again bleeding, this time around his heart.
Johnny and I made the gut wrenching decision to do right by our dog, to let Max die with dignity. And he did. His passing was peaceful, gentle, humane, swift and painless. Max died quietly in Johnny's arms, surrounded by pure love.
When Johnny was 6 years old, I got him that dog. Max was sort of a resuce, a reject of the litter, destined to be put down because no one wanted him. Max chose Johnny to be his person. So although we had expected to go home with a puppy that day, we instead left with 7 month old Max. My boy loved, loved, loved that dog. And Max became his companion for the next 13 years, at Johnny's side, during the best and the worst of times. Every child should grow up with a dog like Max. Max went wherever the boys went and they all loved him. Max loved to be right in the heart of the action.
Max was a gentle, big old quirky goofus. He loved people, even the UPS guy knew him by name. Part Golden Retriever, Max took great pride in running in the opposite direction when a ball was tossed his way rather than bringing it back. He was playfull like that. He also took all of his toys and treats outside and left them there, untouched, never to be retrieved by him. He loved the outdoors, especially the snow, and he laid in it until ice balls formed in his fur. Pure joy for Max was the smell of gasoline and he would roll on the driveway in the wake of the lawn mover and snow blower fumes. I used to joke that Max was Vegan because he loved fruit and veggies, but not meat; he'd sneak into my garden and eat tomatoes right off the vine.
There's a lovely essay that talks about how people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Max was with us for a season, here to teach a lesson and then gone when that mission was complete. Max helped me raise Johnny and Max died the final summer Johnny would be home, after his freshman year of college, before moving into his first apartment in Madison.
Max went with us to Oregon 5 days after he died. His ashes are scattered among butterfiles and wild flowers, from the highest point of Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park. We believe his spirit now rests on the top of a mountain that he would have loved to have climbed with us. He waits there now to greet the hikers who arrive at that summit and will be rewarded by the magnificent view and a peaceful resting place for a short while before heading back down the mountain, back to the real world.
Rest easy now my sweet fur baby, I'll see you on the other side. XO, Mama