WHAT I LEARNED FROM MAX
Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been thinking about Max and how much I’ve learned from him. Who is Max? Max is my Great Dane. Max came into my life 4 years ago on the Sunday before Labor Day. I got him from the Great Dane Rescue League of New England. I picked him up at a dirty little kennel in Connecticut where he was placed temporarily. I felt horrible for all of the dogs. It was obvious that Max hadn’t been outside of his cramped living area for over a week. Max was a little older and in poorer health than other Great Danes I looked at but he needed a home more than the others, so I took him. It also helped that my Chocolate Lab who was along for the ride seemed very excited about the whole thing.
Why am I writing about Max anyway? Well, last January when Max was about to turn 7 years old, the vet gave him only 6 months to live. He was losing the muscle in his left rear leg. As a result, he started to drag his foot which ended up infected. It didn’t help that he decided to bite on it like an old chew toy. After a long period of antibiotics, foot soaks and changing his bandages 2-3 times a day, I finally have his foot under control. I still bandage it and he wears a boot to protect it while we go for walks. He is doing great but I know his time is running out. When I look into his eyes, I can’t help myself from wondering what it’ll be like without him and how much I’ll miss him.
What have I learned? You can be big and look threatening to some people but at heart just be a loving gentle soul - “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
Even though I know he doesn’t feel well at times, he’s always willing to go for a walk or a ride. “Never give up”. Sometimes people see him dragging his leg behind him and they tell me how bad they feel for him. I respond by telling them he’s not in pain and that they should see him run and climb stairs. Or, watch him excitedly chase after squirrels. One time I caught him wagging his tail at an earth worm lying on the sidewalk while trying to take a sniff. “Be happy”.
When I walk Max by the senior apartments, residents who sit on benches under the sun greet him with smiles & praise. They know him by name. He goes up to each and everyone of them to say hello (in dog lingo, that means he wags his tail and takes a sniff). “Treat everyone with kindness and respect”. I’m dreading the day when they see me alone without old Max and I have to tell them that he passed on. Not because it will make me sad, but because I know it will make them sad for the moment.
In human standards, Max is very old. The normal life span of a Great Dane is only 7-10 years. It may be a little tougher to get up and go every morning, you may have some aches and pains and the body just doesn’t work the way it used to, but if your mind is fresh, and you really take time to enjoy the little things around you, then you’re way ahead of the game. “Stop and smell the roses”.
UPDATE: 8 weeks after writing this newsletter Max died peacefully. I loved him so much.