Friday, March 8, 2019

The Final Goodbye-Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend Max

Max 2002-2019

Saying goodbye is so hard. I'm eating eclairs & Cheetos tonight while Max is eating cheeseburgers and sausage egg McMuffins. We have an appointment with the Vet in the morning. Max has been in "dogie hospice" for a long time so this is no surprise but no less difficult. At times over the last year he has been like the Energizer bunny but at 17 1/2 his poor old body is just worn out. I've watched his body change as his legs seem to have gotten longer, he has lost weight despite a big appetite, he's bent in stature, vision changes and gray around his muzzle. Last May he collapsed in the back yard and I just couldn't get him in the house. Thinking this was the end and not wanting him to pass alone I laid at his side until morning. We survived the windy night without having a branch falling on us laying in the yard. At sunrise he awoke & looked at me like we were both crazy for being out in the cold covered with blankets. 

I have been blessed to see his sweet face every morning for 15 1/2 years. The day I adopted Max from the shelter I remember taking five dogs out for walks. He was the only one who put his head in my lap and looked at me as if to say please take me home. He had my heart at that moment. 

He still is a handsome dog. People have always commented on what a good looking dog he was. His once flowing Golden Retriever tail & assortment of colors in his fur with white, black, burnt sienna, yellow ocher, raw umber and now gray around his Chow like muzzle and almond eyes. 

For years we had a nightly routine of him following me after I would head up the stairs for bed. Only minutes after all the lights were off I would hear his paws hit the tile at the foot of the stairs, then up he would climb. He would reach the bedroom put his head on the bed to get his bearings and then leap up. Never figured out why he didn't come up with the lights on. In the morning there he would be looking at me almost shouting wake up wake up like someone at a store window at Christmas waiting for the store to open. 

Always patient with my other dogs in my family as they ate his food or pushed aside at the water bowl or getting in the back door. Our life together has been a series of small moments the daily routine of having a dog. When one talks to themselves you appear a little less crazy if a dog is in the house. He knew when to put his head in my lap to comfort me when I was sad. He loved snuggling at my feet as we laid on the couch watching Law and Order on a lazy Saturday afternoon. He loved following the sun around the back yard always moving to be warmed by its afternoon rays. How we loved our daily walks together. 

For many years twice a day up to the Castle and home, then once a day, then just to the mailbox, then around the yard then just around the house and now laying on the floor surrounded by old towels creating a quilt around him. Whenever I walked thru the front door of our home he always looked at me like he just won the lottery. How lucky I have been to have him in my life but a piece of my heart will go with Max tomorrow. 

“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give."
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

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