When Brian said he wanted us to get a dog, I wasn’t sure. I love dogs. Always have. But they are a lot of work. And I did not know if I would meet one that met the standards of my dog, Buster.
Max was not Buster. But just like Buster was the dog that I needed when I was growing up, Max was the dog that Brian and I needed as we started our life together. We was always with us. We was always jealous of us. And he never took his eyes off of us.
But Brian did not want me working from home alone. He wanted me to have a friend with me when he was gone. He wanted me to have some reason to get outside. And he had to take several clergy trips each year and was happy that I was in the home with someone to entertain me. Dogs do all of those things.
We went to a few animal shelters and ended up at the Lexington Humane Society. Brian scoped out a few dogs online and we looked at them. They seemed nice enough, but then I caught the eyes of this skinny dog in a cage with a big smile. I said, “Look at that guy!”
And we asked the volunteer if we could meet Max.
They took us to the back room where you get to play with the dog and he jumped onto our laps, gave us kisses, and most of all, he wanted belly rubs. Lots of belly rubs.
The volunteer came in and told us his story. He was abandoned on the side of the road. Animal control picked him up with all of his tags and they called his owner. They said he was mean and bit their kids and attacked their other animals. We couldn’t reconcile the two and asked what the volunteer thought. And he said, “He doesn’t like bigger dogs that much. But there aren’t too many of those.”
We spent the next hour debating this big Rottweiler mutt and we made the right choice. Neither of us thought we would walk out with a dog like him, but our lives were changed that day. The woman who checked us out said, “You got a really good one.” And she was so right.
I have far too many stories about Max and the last five years we spent together – almost every day, every hour, and every minute.
He featured on our Save the Date card. He stood in the center of every Christmas photo. And he is our world.
The last month has been horrible. We got back from a wonderful vacation where he played in the water, played with other dogs, and just did everything he ever could have wanted.
I suppose that’s the best way to leave this plane. He got to see our families after so many months. He enjoyed the car ride. And we got to spent another couple of weeks – the three of us.
But that ended. Max was diagnosed with a brain tumor only a few weeks ago and after some initial positive breaks, he couldn’t take it. We watched a dog that was our shadow and perfect in every way have a hard time standing, walking, or even looking at us. However, we will have all of the memories.
We joke that we got the definition of a dog. He loved to play. He would chase just about anything. Max barked at the ice machine and Netflix as it scrolled. But he never begged for food or really even seemed to want to eat. Unless it was a pastry.
When we first got him, I had baked a blueberry pie for Brian and I left it up on the high counter in our kitchen. I didn’t think there was a way that the dog could get all the way up there. But he did. He ate it all. And not a drop of blueberry was anywhere.
Everyone loved him. Everyone was scared of him at first, but then they met him. He would wiggle-butt around and sit in front of you and give you his paw. Wherever you were, he wanted to be in the same place. He hated being alone. Which made him the perfect fit for Brian and I. We loved being together.
The fiercest thing about him was his tail. He knocked down every one of our nieces and nephews and got right into their faces. They looked eye to eye and we will never forget when our nephew Trevor was chasing me and Max got annoyed. He ran up to Trevor and headbutted him in the chest and Trevor screamed. My sister came running to see if everything was alright and asked, “Did Max bite you?”
Trevor said no.
“Well, where does it hurt?”
With his arms going in circles all around him, he said, “Everywhere.”
But the times that really meant the most to Brian and I were our nights together. Max would join us for dinner every night at the dining room table. He would bring a toy of his own as we brought our plates and food. While we talked and ate, he would chew or squeak and then eventually fall asleep, as dogs do.
The minute I stood up, he followed us into the kitchen as we cleaned up because he knew he was next. And he would patiently wait. I turned the Jurassic Park song into his dinner theme song. He would jump in circles for his food and then sit down as Brian stirred his kibble and gravy together. For a long time, he would spit out all of the food before he would chew it until we realized, he didn’t want so much. When we cut his food, he ate it all up normally. Big mean junkyard dog indeed.
The Many Fights of Max the Dog
For a dog that was left for dead, we were happy to call him ours. But he did not have an easy life. We hired a trainer to help calm him down because he latched onto me and became very protective. It worked really well and Brian and him got very close – especially throughout the pandemic.
When he was diagnosed with oral melanoma, we knew the outlook was poor. But the three of us fought it together. We took him for surgery and vaccines and visits to vets all over the place. And he excelled.
But this diagnosis was different. Vets were contradictory; they never gave us straight answers. Due to COVID, we only saw two face-to-face out of the 12 that we interacted with. He was alone in the offices as we could only sit in the car and wait. And all of that made it hard on all three of us. In the end, we will try to forget so much of this last month because everything else was near perfection.
We got so much time with him. In the years we were together, we were only apart for a few weeks. Otherwise, he was our sidekick. And we will never forget him.
You be a good boy, Max. We love you very much.