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.