The worst day.

Maxwell Klinger

Adopted:  November 21, 1998

Died:        January 29, 2007



My sweet boy.

He came into my life on November 21, 1998.  I walked into the dog section of the Humane Society and locked eyes with a gorgeous German Shepherd.  At that moment, I knew that this dog was mine.

Yes, it’s a cheesy story, but it’s true.  I didn’t know anything about this dog.  Male?  Female?  Age?  Temperament?   I didn’t know any of these things.  I had never owned a German Shepherd before.  Heck, I had never been around a German Shepherd.   I just knew that this was my dog.

I soon found out that Max was around a year old and had already lived with three families.  He had no training and to sum it up:  he was a handful.

I took him home and my life changed forever.  

At first, all of my time and effort went into trying to control this 90 lb. bundle of energy.

He was housebroken and that’s about the only positive thing about those first few weeks.

He had a reaction to his vaccines and developed a huge abscess that required minor surgery and a round of antibiotics. 

Max ate people food wherever he could find it:  on counters, on the table, out of the refrigerator, etc.   He wasn’t shy about doing it, either.  It was obvious that no one had taught him that this was unacceptable behavior.  

He was horribly offended by my houseplants.  One day when I was in the shower, he knocked all of them over and dug in the dirt.  Of course, I had just watered them.   Then, with muddy paws, he ran all over the house.  

He didn’t like his dog toys.  He preferred to chew on shoes, furniture frames, furniture cushions and door frames.

I could barely walk him.   In fact, he walked me.  Think of those cartoons of a person getting dragged behind a dog.  That was me.  

He played rough and didn’t know that his teeth hurt me. 

I took him to obedience school.  He was kicked out.  Twice. 

The highlight of those first weeks was the day he consumed the contents of a tube of Krazy Glue.  Somehow, he suffered no ill effects.

The low point of these first weeks with Max was one sunny afternoon that I remember like it was yesterday:  I sat on my couch crying because I could not get this dog to behave.  He was out of control.    I considered taking him back to the Humane Society.

Then, I looked at him, sleeping on the floor, and decided that I would not do that under any circumstances.  I had made a commitment to this dog.  I was his fourth chance at a family.  He deserved a loving home.  I would do everything I could to train him and turn him into the dog that I knew he could be.  

It was not easy, but in time, I tamed the wild beast.  He was never perfectly behaved.  In fact, he was the ‘problem child’ among my eventual three dog family.  He was the one that would get away with whatever he could.   He was a free spirit. 

A year after bringing Max home, I went back to the Humane Society and returned home with Samantha.  Their introduction was rough, to say the least. 

They fought for the first 24 hours or so.   Then, Sam jumped on Max and tore his ear.  The walls of my living room looked like a murder had taken place.   If you look at the picture above, you can see the notch on his right ear where it was torn.

However, that bloodbath was the start of an amazing relationship between my two Shepherds.  They were best buddies.  Sam was the dominant dog and Max was (usually) fine with that. 

They shared food and water dishes, they slept curled up together and they loved to play together. 

In the past few years, Samantha (who’s 11) has been sleeping more than she used to.  Max never accepted that she would rather sleep than play with him.  He would often stand over her as she slept, barking and nudging her with his nose.  This would go on for several minutes until Sam would snap at him.   Max would get the hint and leave her alone.  But not for long.  Within a few minutes he would be trying to wake her up again.   Sam would snap again and this cycle would continue several times.  It would end in one of two ways:  sometimes Sam would give in and play with him and sometimes she would go hide in my bedroom. 

Max was my first German Shepherd and one hell of an introduction to the breed.

He was so intelligent.  And he was maddeningly strong willed. 

He was also so sweet and learned to be so gentle.  He loved to nap with his head in my lap.   Often, I woke up in the morning and he was snuggled right up next to me, snoring away with his head on my pillow. 

Max hated car rides.  Whenever I picked up my keys, he would make a beeline for the other side of the house. 

He hated water, but loved snow more than any other dog I’ve ever owned.

When Max was diagnosed back in November, I hoped for a snowy winter so that he would be able to enjoy the snow.  I knew that this was probably his last winter. 

Boy, did that wish come true!   This is the snowiest winter since I moved to Colorado ten years ago.  

Max loved to roll in the snow and to eat it.  His favorite snow activity was to just sit on a snow bank and watch the world go by.  He would do this for hours and be perfectly content. 

During the worst blizzards, he would ask to go outside and then he would just sit in the storm, getting covered with snow.   I would make him come inside after a short time to warm up, but he always asked to go right back out in the storm. 

Most dog owners are lucky enough to one day have That Dog. 

That Dog that you just connect with in a different way than other dogs.  That Dog that just seems to be totally in tune with you.  That Dog who spends days in bed with you when you have the flu.  That Dog who eases the pain of a broken heart with slurpy kisses.   That Dog that you don’t love more, just differently.

Max was That Dog. 

Max was not the perfect dog.  But he was the perfect dog for me.

He only lived 9 years and I only loved him for 8 of those years.  

More than anything, I wish I could have had more time with him, but I am so grateful that I had the years that I did.

He made me laugh every single day. He often made me crazy, but I loved every second of it. 

Rest in peace, my sweet boy.  Thank you for eight wonderful years.  I’m going to miss you.  Your paw prints will be on my heart forever. 

33 responses

  1. kristi and otis | Reply

    Oh Kathy, I am so sad for your loss and your beautiful tribute just brought me to tears – he sounded like a wonderful spirit. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Awww… I’m so sorry! *hugs*

  3. I am so sorry (((Kathy)))

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending you prayers, reiki and hugs.


  5. *hugs* I am so sorry for your loss.

  6. Kathy, I’m crying reading your beautiful tribute to your best friend. Remember the good times; that’s what will help you get through.

    Your PA friend.

  7. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing dog. My sincere condolences.

  8. OH, Kathy, I’m so sorry. Your lovely words for Max have brought me to tears. I am so touched by your love for each other. I send you much healing and peace for all in your house. I’m going to hug my dogs now and tell them all about Max.

    Hugs to you.

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss! I hope he can play across the bridge with all the other wonderful critters that went before him 🙂

  10. May Max play among the snow forever.

  11. I’m sorry. I’m certainly going to miss his smiling face on your pages.

  12. My sincere sympathies to you, dear.

  13. Hugs to you Kathy.. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know the beautiful memories of your time with him will warm your heart forever.

  14. Oh Kathy, I am so sorry … I’m sitting here crying. I didn’t know Max personally, but I feel as though I knew him through your blog. He was a beautiful dog. Thank you for sharing your stories about him with us. I lost my “That Dog” almost four years ago … and my heart still aches for him. {{{{hugs}}}} to you and your other puppies.

  15. I’ve only recently begun following your blog, which I discovered on a knitting google search. I am so terribly sorry for your loss. Our family lost our “that dog”, Bailey, last year, due to debilitating diabetes. Our family still grieves, though we can look back and laugh at her memories of her hilarious antics. Of all the dogs we’ve had and loved, she was the one who seemed to touch our hearts the most, so I really do know how you feel. I’m really very, very, sorry.

  16. Oh! I am so sorry to hear of Max’s passing but so happy to hear that he had a wonderful life with you. He was blessed and blessed you with his short time on earth.

  17. Oh kathy. I’m so, so, so very sorry. You post brought blubbering to me, it was so beautiful. I’m so happy Max found his person after so many culdn’t handle him. What a special friendship you had. I’m so glad you had a snowy season for him. I hope you can find some peace in the days ahead and comfort in your other pups.

  18. Max sounds like a heck of a dog. Reminds me alot of our Jack – who we lost a year and a half ago to Congestive Heart Failure. He was a strongwilled and when he was a young, a very destructive Lab – mix. He found us when he was a pup, and somehow we stuck it out despite the house he nearly destroyed. When we buried him, it was one of the saddest days of our lives. The love and good times you shared with Max will always be with you. You were blessed.
    A new dog has come ito our lives, Sparky – a Golden Retriever. But Jack was that one dog that was our heart.

  19. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful member of your family.

  20. Sympathy. I know the pain of losing a loved animal and I cry for you.

  21. So sorry to hear about Max, Kathy. It’s obvious you loved him and that was a wonderful tribute to him.

  22. Oh, Kathy… my heart breaks for you. I knew the diagnosis was bad, but I had no idea it would be so quick. You two made such a difference in each others lives… how wonderful that you were brought together.

  23. Kathy, what a lovely tribute to a wonderful friend. I’m sad you’ve lost him, but I’m glad you have so many incredible memories of him, and that throughout the time you had him, you made all the right choices for him, including the last and the hardest. Wishing you comfort.

  24. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my heart dog, Sasha, after just nine years too.

    Some dogs you never get over.

  25. That’s horrible! I’m feeling with you, Kathy.

  26. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  27. I can’t tell you how sorry I am at your loss. I went through a loss like yours in 2005 and I truly understand about “the dog”.

  28. So sorry about your loss. Sounds like Max was an amazing dog and friend. He was lucky to have you and you were lucky to have him. A win – win.

  29. I have just come across your blog and this is the first entry that I’ve read. I have tears in my eyes while reading your beautiful love story. I am so glad that Max had you in his life to give him all the love that he deserved. You were both so lucky to have found each other. I am so sorry for your loss.

  30. Oh, sounds like you were lucky to have him find you. My Mindy was just 10 weeks when I got her (a birthday present when I was 8) and then, I was 19 when we put her down. She was a GS too, and I loved her. Stubborn, yes. Faithful, yes. Terrified of water, yes. Loved snow, yes. Glad you got to have so much time with “the dog”.

    🙂 kate

  31. you brought me to tears. I’m so sorry for your loss


  32. Thanks for sharing your story it really tugged at my heart and made me smile at the same time. Both you and Max were lucky you found each other

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