Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I'm so sad. We lost our beloved cairn terrier, Max, sometimes known as Maxel "the good," early Sunday morning. To say we adored him really doesn't begin to cover it. Back in 1999 about this time of year, we rescued Max from the shelter. For several months prior, my husband Hans and I had been making the rounds of various shelters and not finding terriers, I remember actually crying after going to the Fairfax animal shelter and looking at 50 dogs, I said, "we'll NEVER find a terrier." My husband said, "hey, let's go to our local shelter, even though we were there 2 days ago." I didn't want to go, but I did. As we walked down the aisle, suddenly there was someone new. Small, black and silver, and barking loudly, as in, "yo, I'm down here, do NOT pass me by!" I didn't want to see him in the meeting room, I said, "he's very barky." But again, Hans won out and we went into the room with a black and silver cairn terrier. I knelt down, Max walked right up to me and put his paw on my knee. Well, that was it, he picked us, and the rest is history.

He was the perfect dog for us, we adored him and he adored us. He alerted us to UPS trucks driving by, mail delivery, and kids walking down the street with his loud bark. He cuddled between us on the bed at night. He liked to sit curled up with me on the sofa when I watched tv, he "helped" with many of my crochet projects. He loved Hans, particularly when they'd run together, Max got the biggest smile on his face. Max curled up next to me when I was sick, I always called it "helping," he took his job seriously this past spring while I recovered from surgery. He liked to keep us in his sight, he loved "his people." He hated going to the vet, he'd start shivering violently as we'd put him in his doggy seatbelt in the car, we had to drag him in the vet's door, just an amazing show he put on! Whenever his grooming or his vet visit was done, he bee-lined for the door, no shivering, just ready to get out of there. He hated rain and getting his feet wet. He'd bark if a cat walked by the coffee table, to alert us, we nicknamed him "Officer O'Malley." He loved to eat, he loved treats, he loved bacon, he loved liverwurst and headcheese (courtesy of our lovely German landlady who adored him and would babysit him), he loved cheese. He could be very protective of his food, if one of our cats strayed near him, he'd bark and launch at it, but rarely was it serious.

As he aged, he slowed down. He had arthritis and took medication that worked well for him, he lost a lot of hearing and much of his eyesight. He became a bit needy. He fell down the stairs 2 years ago, which was horrifying, so we began to carry him up the stairs and later down them as well, the little "prince on a pillow." His walks became very short, a pee, a little sniff, then turned like a magnetic needle back to the house. He slept A LOT. He spent most of his time on our bed, sleeping, curled up in a ball. He couldn't jump up on furniture anymore, we had to lift him onto the bed. The fur on his face became white. He was out of it sometimes, not quite sure where he was, but he'd calm down when I talked to him and pet him. I told him everyday how much I loved him and how special he was, always. He was such a good, true little soul.

At 2:45am on Sunday morning, we were awakened to Max having a seizure. It was horrifying, he was screaming, Hans was sobbing and making sure he was safe, I was running around to call the emergency vet. We wrapped Max in towels and drove to the emergency vet in 20 minutes. The vet examined him, called us back to a meeting room. We knew. He wasn't recovering from the seizure. He was 17. We made the decision to put him to sleep, weeping, and we held him for a bit. It wasn't Max anymore, I knew his brain had been damaged. We put him on the table, the vet put in the syringe, and Max went so peacefully. So sweet.

We are devastated, of course I knew my pet would die one day, but I certainly didn't think about it much. Max was very much alive. He had opinions. And he was very loving. He was a major part of our lives for nearly 11 years. Yesterday, I donated his leftover food and treats to the shelter where we rescued him in his honor. The house now is oh, so quiet. The sounds of his little paws on the floor as he made his rounds, his little sleeping noises, the clinking of his ID and rabies tags with his St. Francis of Assisi medal.

Always loved, always loving, forever in our hearts.

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