Ponder this:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Max 1996-2012

Max - October 2009

Saturday, June 16:
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.
I think.

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.

Saturday morning:
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 2012
Saturday 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.

Later, later...
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.


Blipfillypicklepoo said...

Oh, my. I can't see well through teary eyes. Thanks so much for your post. It put me right back 11 years ago with my dog, Ruben. It's amazing how quiet a house can be when you know one if it's long time residents isn't coming home. I'm so sorry for your loss, June.

georgia little pea said...

Dear June,

I'm so sorry to hear about Max. But not for Max. He's either nowhere or in a better place. Either way he'll be without pain.

Thank you for sharing your last week with him. As a friend told me when I was in the same dilemma with Rufus...better a week early than one day late. You did good and I'm sure, I'M SURE he was very glad to have you with him at the end.

Happy travels, Max X

threecollie said...

So sad for you..wish I could lend some heart to help your aching one.

rachel said...

It will pass, of course it will, but it will be hard. That was a hugely compassionate act, and the little athlete - who wouldn't know how to give up without help - was helped on his way with love and kindness. Deepest sympathy to you both.

Olga said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It is so hard to let go of a cherished pet. You can console yourself with the memories and the knowledge that he had a very good life and that you offered him compassion at the end.

I's sure your husband is hurting very much as well, but, Honestly I would have dumped a basketfull of soggy tissues on his head.

This post stirred up memories that leaked out all over my face.

Joanne Noragon said...

Good bye, good dog. I'm sad for you, but smiling at the thought of Max running with wings.

Mac n' Janet said...

It is so hard to do, to decide if it's time, to not do it too soon. But it's done now and what you get to keep are your memories, they will grow stronger and this one will recede.

DJan said...

I am crying very hard, I can't help it. Your writing put me into the situation along with you. And little Maxie is now where we will all go one day. Over the Rainbow Bridge. Thank you for these tears of sorrow; they are healing.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

It hurts so hard to lose a dear pet, and you wonder how the world can go on when you have this big empty place in your life. The world doesn't stop and pay attention, as it does when we lose a human family member, so we wander around, assaulted by grief, and we don't know what to do with it. Please know that others have experienced this great sadness and send you their sympathy. Thank you for this beautiful narrative.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

It can be so hard to do the right thing .
But he loved and was loved till the very end and will always be there , right next to you .

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Oh, June, I'm so sorry for your loss. It is so heartbreaking to say "Goodbye" to such a beloved and thoroughly wonderful animal companion. We have lost several cats in the last 30 years -- including both of the extraordinary cats I used for animal-assisted therapy -- and it was truly like losing a member of the family with the same grief process except with the added responsibility of making that decision to spare them further suffering. I'm glad your vet let you know that it wasn't too soon. People grieve in such different ways: some with tears, some with anger and jokes that create distance from the loss. May time be healing for both of you -- though you'll probably always miss that sweet and very special little Max.

Carolynn Anctil said...

There is nothing harder on this earth than to make that decision. It's agonizing and the fear that it's too soon makes it harder still. I waited too long with one of my little girls and it still tears me up inside to know that I put her through that because I wasn't strong enough to let her go. You did good by Max. There isn't a dry eye in our house today as we mourn his passing.

Saku said...

My heart aches for you. Having to make the decision is the most difficult thing to do. I know as I've had to do it three times in the past four years with my cats.

But I can live with the pain of my decisions knowing I made my choice out of love.

I am certain Max knew how much you loved him and was grateful for your presence.

Anonymous said...

What a loving, compassionate act you did for your beloved friend. He thanks you, I'm sure of it xxxxxxxxx

VioletSky said...

Having had to make a similar decision, my heart aches for you and your husband (who can not show his sadness).
I found it hard to accept all that sympathy from a vet and nurse who did not even know my Abby.

Marcia said...

I had to do the same thing; hubby could not. A neighbor drove me in.
They are in a far, far, better place . . .
It might take more than one good cry.

Vicki Lane said...

A beautiful post -- of course you did the right thing.

Hilary said...

Oh June.. my heart aches for you. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad for you that you knew the time was right, and that Max was eased over with such love. I'm sorry you're hurting. Hugs to you.

Floridagirl said...

So sorry for you.

Barb said...

I took our Breezy Girl, too - my Husband couldn't be with us at the end. It is unbearable fo lose a beloved animal, though thankfully, I think it's hardest on the humans. I send you hugs. What a life your Max lived!

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Dearest June,
Accept my heartfelt tears of empathy for your grief. A special and wonderful friend you have lost. May the following days be kind to you and hubs.
All my love - across the miles.

the veg artist said...

They work their little way into our hearts and curl up and say "I like it here with you". When they have to leave us it tears away at our hearts, and it hurts. A lot.

We look for their little faces, expect to see them in their favourite spots, and they are just not there. They should be. It hurts. A lot. For a long time.
It is an indication of how much we loved them, and were loved in return. Eventually it is the love that we remember, not the pain.

Joan said...

So many beautiful comments here already (oh, georgia little pea!) and what a magnificent tribute this post is to your beloved Max. Je compatis.

JeannetteLS said...

June, I am so sorry for your loss. Such beauty in this entry. Perhaps Max is chasing and dancing around with butterflies. Maybe near my sister. Thank you for your kindness, and be gentle with yourself. Losing family just stinks.

Grandmother Mary said...

We're the ones left with sadness. Think about how wonderful it was for Max to die surrounded by love after extra doses of liverwurst, Robaxin and snuggles. It may have broken your heart but it spared his further grief.

Friko said...

Damn you, why did you have to write this.
I have NEVER cried over a blogpost before.

I've spent all day ministering to Benno today; he had a terrible attack of pancreatitis. He's calm now.

DAMN YOU! I don't want to effing know.

the7msn said...

Doing the right thing is so damned hard.

"Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really," says
Agnes Sligh Turnbull, whoever she is – I have no idea, but it's the best thing ever said about dogs.

Big hugs from all of us.

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Dear june,
I have been away, so only just read your post, Im so sorry to hear the sad news, all my thoughts are with you, you did the right thing at the right time, as you know. Im just so glad he had you as an owner and had a beautiful and happy life.

sonia a. mascaro said...

I am so sorry for your loss. So sad... Max will be sorely missing.

WendyFromNY said...

What a beautiful post. You stated so eloquently what we all go thru when we have to make the most terrible decision for our beloved little ones. So sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing it. Run free little Max.

Cathy said...

Dear June,

I followed you here from Marianne's Northview Diary. I see you don't really require another arm around you shoulder.

But this . .

Well . .

The courage. The love. And still enough love and self left to endure and forgive the male of the species his particular flaws.

You shared in delicate and intimate prose that which would draw tears from all but the hardest of hearts.

This pain is why I resist my husband's desire for another dog.

I am a coward which makes your tale doubly painful for me. I have no where near your courage and I have no dog.