Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A day I wish I'd stay forgetting

Demon #1 reminded me today that it was 5 years ago today that we had to put my Maxwell Knuckles to sleep. I purposley forget today because I don't want to remember it, but since I'm reminded, I feel entitled to blog about my first-born.
Max came into my life in 1992. I was looking in the paper for a German Shepard puppy and I found an ad that was giving away German Shepard cross puppies. I went to the farm and looked at all the puppies. All black. I didn't want an all-black dog. The owners told me one puppy was missing, that he was a loner. When I'd made up my mind to pass on getting any of those puppies, here comes this big ball of golden fur from a shed. Running as fast as his little legs (that you couldn't see under all the fur!) could carry him. He ran right up to me and it was love at first sight. He wasn't the German Shepard look that I wanted, but something told me I couldn't leave without him. That was my Maxwell. I had always planned on naming a German Shepard "Knuckles" in memory of a German Shepard that belonged to a friend of my brothers back in the 70s when I was just 6 or 7 years old. He was a mean, vicious dog that nobody could get near, but yet I'd climb into his dog house with him. I always said I'd have my own Knuckles. Max didn't look like a Knuckles, so that is how he was named Maxwell Knuckles. (and he knew he was in trouble when I used his full name! LOL)
He was with me through a marriage that was a mistake from day one. I had to leave him at the house my ex & I had when I moved into town into an apartment. I got a call from a neighbor that my ex hadn't been around and they were going to call the humane society if someone didn't come feed Max. I broke into the house that day to get him food & water. Soon after I asked Jason ("the husband" I talk about now) if Max could stay with him and then we went and "kidnapped" Max. I always joke on how Max moved in with Jason before I did! LOL
One thing that Max loved was snow. He had a dog house, but when it snowed he'd lay outside and let the snow fall on him until all there was was a big snow pile that would move if you called for Max. Loving the snow & cold is partly what contributed to his sore joints & muscles later on.
He loved critters... more than once we caught him letting rabbits eat out of his food dish. And our cats.. but they had to be ours. The rest he'd chase away, but he'd never hurt them. He had 2 cats in his life that he favored more than the rest. The first one was a white cat named Milo. They would spend days with Max chasing Milo up a tree and Milo waiting until Max laid down and then he'd jump out of the tree... right onto Max and they would start all over again! Max was also his body guard. Milo liked to get into fights with other cats and he sooned learned to lure them into the yard. Milo would stand just inside of the circle of Max's tie-out and wait for the unsuspecting cat to round the corner of the house and right into Max. I suppose that was another game of there's.... teasing the neighbor cats.
His other favorite was Big Boy. It's kinda funny now watching Big Boy with Saki now that she's grown. I often wonder if he remembers Max and now with his sudden interest in Saki I wonder even more.
A couple years before I made the final decision to put him down he started aching more and more. Then his bladder started giving out. This is a dog that would hold it inside the house for 24 hours (if he had to, which was only once!) because he was such a good boy and all of a sudden he just couldn't anymore. Then the pain got worse. It took me a good year to finally make that decision, but I remember the day like it was yesterday. He was laying on the couch with me and with ever breath he moaned. I looked down at him and said "Ok, ok, I get it. It's time." I remember the look in his eyes after I said that... it was like a look of peace that he knew would soon be coming.
Max was a "full boy" and loved to mark his territory outside and in the garage. Jason wanted to club him over the head with a shovel more times than not. But when I made that appointment and asked Jason to take him in for me because I knew I couldnt, he couldn't either. We had to get my brother to take him in for us. Right before he took Max away I gave Max the biggest plate of Thanksgiving leftovers a dog has ever had.
I still have Max's ashes in a box that has a "good dog" sticker on it, along with his collar that held his scent for a good 2 years. My heart broke when I couldn't smell him anymore.
For quite a while after he died I would hear his collar jingling in the backyard through the bathroom window. Always in the morning. I just got used to saying "good morning, Max". After awhile the jingling stopped. I still miss that, even if it was in my mind. Or was it?
If Max had to go outside during the night or early morning he would put his head on the bed right by my face and just stare at me. One night I woke up to the feeling of pressure on the mattress and I swear to this day, I smelled his bad breath. Maybe it was a dream... maybe it wasn't.
Soon after we got Saki, I was playing with her and she jumped up on me and put a paw on each of my shoulders. I pushed her down right away... see, if I wanted a hug from Max I'd say "give me hugs" and he would jump up and put a paw on each shoulder. She kept trying to do that and I just kept saying, "No Maxie hugs! Only Max gives hugs like that.". Was it Max's way of telling me it was ok to love Saki? I don't know. Now there are Saki hugs, which is just her head on my shoulder. There are no Maxie hugs anymore... there was only one dog who is gonna give me hugs like that.
A friend of Jason's who is a vintage snowmobiler, Drmario, as he goes by online, recently lost his cat and posted about it on VintageSleds.com. He made mention that his cat & dog that he lost 2 years ago were "once in a lifetime pets". Maxwell was my once in a lifetime. I've had other dogs throughout my life but nobody has ever come close to meaning as much as Max did - and still does - mean to me. There is just not another Max out there.
So as I type this out with tears streaming down my face (so much for the makeup I put on this morning) I miss him just as much as I did 5 years ago.

8 comments:

Coffee Slut said...

Dammit ....you made me cry!
I so understand, and I'm sending big hugs your way today.

Kimber said...

I have a cat hair in my eye. Yeah, it must be a cat hair.

Hugs to my sweet BerBear.

StraitJacketMom (Berleen) said...

I'm sorry :( I don't wanna make anyone cry! But when I get talking about Max, I can't stop!

Sweet Cops Wife said...

{{{{{{{hugs to you}}}}}}}}}

Jodi said...

And the tears POURING down my face after reading this. What an absolutely beautiful story Berleen. Max sounded like such a wonderful dog. The thing is..if you really think about it - he found you when he came out of that shed running to you. He will always be a part of your heart. What beautiful memories you have of him. I am a huge animal lover & this story touched me very much. ((hugs))

Sheri/Cookingmom said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! I am dreading that day with my pets. Your story was so sad, but you wrote it so well.

StraitJacketMom (Berleen) said...

You're right Jodi, he did find me. I always say the best pets are the ones you don't go looking for or those who found you.
I had a cat named Murray that helped me through my teenage years & early adulthood... I found him by talking about cats in class one day and said if I ever had one I wanted a black one... a girl that I rarely talked to spoke up and said "I have a stray black cat in my garage".
And then, of course, there is the cat that found my parents a little over a month ago - it was the best thing that ever happened to them! They were never pet people until Sassy came along, now she is the most spoiled cat you'll ever meet! You think Harley is spoiled - you don't do nothing compared to how they treat Sassy!

and to everyone else... thank you. Max was special.

Jodi said...

Sassy is a very lucky kitten! There is just something about cats (and dogs)...you just got to spoil them. I know I certainly do with Harley. I'm SO bad with it. I'm like Sue (Coffee Slut)..I sing to him all the time too. They are just love. There is no other way to describe them.

It is so nice to know that so many people I blog with are animal lovers and have wonderful pets.