Max - October 2009
Max will get his wings next Saturday morning at 8:45. That will give me time to love him up real good all week and have a couple of last days at home with him, and a couple of days to recover and adjust before I go back to work. Truly, I have known that The Decision is inevitable, but when Husband told me he could not make the decision and it was up to me, all of a sudden I wasn't so ready to say goodbye. But . . . it's far better to do it this way than to wait until he's in full failure. This way he'll just drift off for a nap and wake up with all his muscles back, strong and elastic, his eyes clear and bright, his ears catching every sound, his nose catching scent streams in the wind.
And he'll still be here, we just won't be able to see him.
While I was out at the store, Joe came to visit Husband. They were in the yard talking. Husband had left the front door open and, after a while, happened to look over and see Max way over on the other side of the field . . . same place I found him the first time he went walkabout. That time it was seven o'clock in the morning . . . last spring. The force of my fear pushed me, barefoot and nightgowned, across the cold dry stubbly hayfield. I scooped him up and clutched him against my chest, gasping with receding panic.
I can't have him outdoors anymore without watching his every move. He has no idea where he is in relation to any known place or thing and is apt to wander in any direction apparently thinking that . . . who knows what he's thinking?
His legs are so weak that when he stands still outdoors, his body waves like dry grass in the breeze, and slowly, slowly, he sinks to the ground in awkward disarray. Indoors, his feet slowly slide out from under him, like Bambi on the icy pond.
All we do anymore is pick him up and move him from place to place, feed him and pill him and change his diaper.
It's just so sad to see my little athlete leave me.
Poor little old man.
Friday evening, June 22:Tomorrow morning . . . 8:45.
Husband doesn't think Max seems "that sick."
Poor dog doesn't know where he is or which end is up.
He eats well, yes.
And he can poop and he certainly has no trouble peeing.
But this little dog is no longer the little dog who would chase tennis balls until we would make him stop for fear his heart would give out. This is no longer the little dog who would rather run than walk, would rather run than anything. Except being held. He always loved being held, and he still does. I can feel his body relax all over when I hold him against my chest . . . he falls right to sleep. He's so tired out. I'm doing this not a moment too soon.
Saturday morning, June 23:
Max is having a feast of Liverwurst Kibble for breakfast. I gave him a little bit extra of his Robaxin, because . . . what's the difference?
Last night I held him for a long time and he slept on my chest. I did the Review Of Maxie's Life and Times and cried and cried. It is sad that he's going away but it's sadder that this little professional-level runner and fetcher is reduced to his current condition. I guess this is kidney failure: that's what his chart at the vet's office says. And if that's what it is, the "natural" end is truly horrible.
I don't want to see him go through that. He's nothing but skin and bones with a little bit of apricot fuzz on top. When I put on his diapers I have to fasten them over his hip bones: they stick out like a cow's do.
We always said that Angus' head gave off lightning bolts and Maxie's head gave off little floaty puffy pink hearts. He's been a terror to his brother but he's always been that little floaty pink puffy heart boy to us.
This is much harder than I thought it would be. Husband got up a little while ago. I'm glad . . . I didn't know if I should wake him up or let him sleep past our departure.
He's so sad, and he doesn't share it, and that's hard, too.
Oh, it's just a hard morning. And poor Maxie totterin' around around around around around around.
We'll leave in a few minutes. I had thought Husband would go with us this morning but he can't bear it.
The ride to the vet's office:
Max is tired, limp, leaning against my chest, where I hold him with my left hand, steering with my right. Nothing I do feels right. I could weep and weep, and do. I think of Enzo in The Art of Racing in the Rain and I beg Maxie, "Come back to me if you can. Come back to me if you can. Please."
Then I think I should be calm so as not upset him in these final moments. A deep breath, a deep breath, a deep breath.
I wonder if I am fit to drive in this state.
Max - June 2012Saturday morning 9:00am:
The receptionist and the tech were both so sympathetic that my heart absolutely broke all over again (how many times can a heart break?) while we were waiting for the doctor. When the doctor arrived, the first thing I said was, "Please. Don't be sympathetic."
She understood and she was gentle and clinical.
Thanks be to God.
Max went very smoothly. I was at his head and rubbed his ears and told him I loved him I loved him I loved him I loved him.
The doctor cried a tear or two, said he'd been a good patient, said it was NOT too soon, said it was The Right Thing To Do.
There was almost no difference between "Max alive" and "Max dead."
In time, I'll get a little box full of Max.
When I got home, Husband was on the tractor mowing. He turned off the machine, asked how it had gone. I told him "very smoothly" and what the doctor had said about "not too soon." He was relieved to know the "not too soon" part and when I told him Max just looked the same way he did when he was asleep, that seemed to make it more okay for him.
I cannot sleep because there is no frail tiny dog for me to feel against my back. I can't relax into the pillows: I feel as if I might float up aimlessly into the sky, an untethered balloon.
Husband makes evil, bitter jokes: he and Angus must be vigilant or they'll be next.
I know he is sad, bereft, bereaved.
It is not humor, not of any kind.
It is cruelty.
This, too, shall pass.