Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, July 16, 2012

Goodbye Max

There was an old cowboy tear jerker song named "There's a bridle hanging on the wall."  That song has been running through my mind, particularly as I put away my old dog's collar and his walking leads. We took him first thing this morning to a vet to be put down, his time had come.
I recall that when we got him I was not keen. We had enjoyed three dogs in our family over the years and I loved each one.  I knew I was so busy that maybe we could not give the time a dog needed.  Our foster daughter who had big handicaps had loved Flint, who was my son's dog, and would spend hours with him. He got cancer and had to be put down.  After a time it seemed the family wanted a new dog and my hesitations seemed out of place. This mischievous little puppy arrived and the family and their friends fell in love with him, he was named "Max".  I recall one of my sons and his teenage friends enjoying "Maxy" a lot.  He grew to be a very strong, broad shouldered Labrador who never lost some of his "puppyness". He had the most beautiful nature. I only remember him growling once in his life, at a grumpy Pitbull we encountered on a track once. On one occasion he spent time in kennels. The proprietor loved him, remembering him fondly when we returned some years later and welcomed him back by name, surprised he was as well as he was.  
He and I went for many walks, quiet walks up the road most often, while I unwound from a day. My wife ended up being his main daily walker in the second part of his life. I went on many bigger walks with him. He came up Swampy Summit with me. We walked up Flagstaff and of course "my" Mount Cargill together many times. He came up both those hills in snow, nuzzling his way through this fascinating white cold stuff.  There was something nice walking with this quiet friendly companion and I confess to chatting away to him as we walked. He would look at me patiently and seemed to listen. When I stopped he would come sit beside me and lean against my leg. He loved having his chest scratched. He, like the rest of my family, suffered a certain neglect, because of my busy lifestyle. I feel guilty about that, he deserved a lot more pampering and companionship. 

A 2008 walk in the bush
I went for a nostalgic walk with him last night with a big lump in my throat. He got breathless fairly easily so it was a relatively short walk. He still was keen to go though and seemed to enjoy our time together - he was still a puppy in his mind. This morning when I loaded him into the car he seemed to be asking, "Where are we going boss? For a walk? .. Oh boy!" He was always inquisitive and keen to explore. When the vet and her nurse came up, here were two new friends to meet with wagging tail. .. It has been hard, but it was his time. He apparently was an ancient dog for his breed. (16-17 years) I had a photo of him when he was first diagnosed with health issues. (A tumor and breathing difficulties) When I compared it with his condition today he was fading away and was getting wobbly on his back legs. He will be our last pet. Perhaps when I retire I'll have time for a pet, but I think we'll be needing to simplify and free up life then.
Watching me gardening last year.
I buried Max reverently in a quiet spot, beside the bush down the back paddock. Thank you for enriching my life old friend... we should all be like Max, inquisitive, friendly and still "puppies" in our hearts.


Linda Myers said...

Such a nice tribute to your friend. So sorry for your loss.

Keith Harris said...

Sad times, Dave. I feel for you. What a lucky dog Max has been, though. Many dogs are not so fortunate.