A Brief History of Max, Who Was a Dog
Not just another boy and his dog story
Okay, admittedly, this is a simple "boy and his dog" story. You've read one, you've read them all and Max wasn't a rescue dog, he never saved me from a ninja attack, he wasn't a cyborg, and he really didn't even do much tricks. But he was my dog and I will tell his tale and in exchange for reading it, I will keep it brief, funny and heartwarming.
Okay, on with the story...
My family had a dog prior to Max, and when he passed away, nobody was really expecting to get another dog any time soon--much less the very same day. On May 20, 1993, a friend of my mom's heard of a Sheltie being given away in Anacortes, WA. My mom drove her there but the friend deemed the 2 year old Sheltie, named Max, too big and passed on the animal. So my mom began the short trip back home to Burlington, WA. and at some point realized that maybe a new dog, this dog, would help the grieving process of losing the family's prior canine companion. She whipped the car around at 89 MPH on the freeway, crossed the median into the opposite direction, causing no less than two fuel trucks to violently topple over and explode into a raging fireball on Interstate 5.
12 people died that day so that I could be here now, writing this article about good 'ol Max.
I came home that day from school and met him for the first time. I was both excited and bewildered. Didn't our dog just die, like less than 24 hours ago? The previous dog's body was probably still warm for God's sake. However, this new dog is awesome! Oh, he's licking my face! Hahahahahahaha!! I love you new dog! That's just how young kids think.
Max didn't fit in so easily at first. My mom had this incessant desire to turn our small home into a personal zoo of hers (at any given moment, we had ferrets, ducks, geese, peacocks, goats, many cats and a dragon. Okay, there was no dragon.) Anyway, the cats of course didn't take to kindly to a new dog running around, especially a hyper and super-curious dog such as Max. My own cat, Shredder, didn't give a flying fuck either way. Shredder was unflappable; the "James Bond of Kitties."
But that's another article.
Eventually the animals got used to him, as animals tend to do, but my dad on the other hand....he and Max didn't get along so great for the longest time and my family almost got rid of Max because of this.
The story goes that my dad worked long hours at Boeing and that my brothers and I were....well, we were kids and we were brothers, violence and hijinks ensued on a regular basis and my mom was ill-equipped to handle it sometimes so she would often fall back on her then-catchphrase, "You just wait until your dad gets home!"
So when my dad got home (after 10-15 hour workdays), he would barely get one foot in the door before my mom unleashed the burden of the days parenting upon him. He was usually less than pleased. My dad isn't a physically violent man, but he did have a raging temper, which is understandable given the frequency of the aforementioned scenario. He became a champion yeller and that's where the conflict with Max comes in: Max was a Shetland Sheepdog; a herder who tends his flock. When my dad came after us, yelling and throwing a fit, Max did what Max was bred to do, Max protected his flock. He would jump in right between my raging dad and us kids and growl and bark at my dad, occasionally even nip at him as a warning, but no serious attack ever took place. Like I said, dad wasn't a violent man, just yelled a lot in furious anger, so there wasn't a need for Max to ever go Cujo on him.
After this pattern of yelling-begetting-barking between those two, my parents were all set to give Max the boot, citing his overall excessive barking. My brothers were bummed out, but were mostly indifferent to the whole thing. They probably just felt that we'd get another dog and life would move on.
But not me.
Oh hell no!
Max protected us and now it was my turn to protect him. You will NOT take away my goddamn dog!! Those words became my mantra, the code by which this young teenager lived by. Eventually, my annoying persistence won the day and Max stayed, the responsibility for any of his future actions was all mine and I then unofficially declared him "My dog," though I would never claim to have owned him, like a slave or a piece of property. By "my dog," I mean my friend, my hero (who sniffs people's butts), my brother (who likes to lick his own junk), my family.
After that, life hummed on as normal. My dad calmed down, Max calmed down, and they actually become very close in their own right. I eventually moved out, but I kept Max at my parents' house because that's where he was used to and I didn't want to change his environment on him. I also didn't have a yard in the apartments I lived in, plus they all had "No Pets" policies because most apartment managers are animal hating dickmelons.
Max grew into a ripe old age and his health began to deteriorate. His eyesight was failing and he couldn't maintain a healthy weight. He hadn't gotten any diseases and he wasn't in pain, so we just let him keep doing his thing. It was hard seeing him lose all of his energy and spark, but he was still undeniably Max. Just a bit weaker and scrawny.
In 2009, however, Max developed a lump on his wee wee stick (I'm very mature) and my mom and I put him into the family car and rushed him to the vet at 89 MPH, bypassing traffic whenever we could by crossing the median on I-5 several times causing numerous accidents and fiery explosions from flipped over fuel trucks.
12 people died just to get my dog to the vet.
The vet reported that the lump was cancerous and that it couldn't be operated on. She asked us what every pet owner dreads hearing, "Would you like us to put him down or would you like to take him home?"
She went on to explain that there was no way to tell how much longer Max would last or how much pain he would be in. My mom couldn't handle it and handed the decision over to me. Thanks a bunch, mom! I'm kidding, I was going to do the same thing, she just beat me to it. Very clever, mom.
Okay, so the choice was mine, kill my friend now, or watch my friend die a slow painful death from wee wee stick cancer. I don't want to be here now. I want to go back to my parents' house, with Max, and watch Spongebob or something. But I can't, and I knew it. With my mind spinning at a thousand RPMs, I told the vet my decision and she left the room to prepare.
I held my shit together very well all things considered, and I cradled my once bright and chipper buddy's head in my arms and said my goodbyes. Not to oversell the drama here, but he was looking right at me as the vet came back in with the PetMurder3000 Kit. I didn't feel he was judging me for the choice to end his life, but I saw a sort of an acceptance of the fact in his eyes.
I looked away the moment I saw the vet insert the needle and something happened that I was SO not ready for: I felt his head slump over and he become extremely heavy all of the sudden, like he just added a 80 pound barbell to his collar. Let me tell you something....I am not a cryer. It's not a macho thing, I swear, I simply cry extremely rarely. When I was 9, my great grandma died and I was sad, but I never cried. So it went with my life, rarely crying. I can count the number of times I have cried on one hand.
The moment I felt Max go limp, I have NEVER cried so hard in my life.
Well, that's the story of Max, an ordinary and completely insignificant dog to you and those who never knew him, which is perfectly natural, but a great friend, companion, and crystal meth-producing partner to me.