A few days ago, I began my week with the children telling me that Max, our big mixed bread dog (one of 5), was sick. They told me that Max had a large sore on his leg, maybe a cut. So, I went out to investigate and saw what looked like a huge abscess on the right side of his abdomen. He looked sick. His eyes were sunken, and though he sat up with as much dignity as he could muster, he clearly felt down. The closer I looked at his side, I saw that it was weeping, and had a very unpleasant smell.

So, I hauled Max into the back of the Durango and took him to the vet. His sore drained onto the tile floor. He lay still until we were called back, even wagging his tail as I talked to him, and as a sweet little girl flitted around asking about him, and wondering ‘would he like a snack?’

I left him with our vet, who asked me to call later in the day. An hour later, the vet called. ‘Ed, Max is bad. He has lymphosarcoma. All his lymph nodes are swollen and he’s lost muscle mass. It’s in his pelvis too. There’s nothing we can do. His white blood count is 130,000.’

I got off the phone and told the kids. There was much grief. Two of the kids went with me to say goodbye, and so that we could bring Max back home after he was put down. Even I cried as we petted him on the vet’s floor. He was a good dog, always had been. When it was all over, we took him home and buried him near his other fellow Leap pets in our growing cemetary.

As we looked back on Max’s life, it was good to remember that he had a good one. It’s a lesson for all of us. Max lived with a pack of children for seven years. They all petted him, brought him treats and talked to him. He dutifully followed them on walks and hikes. He almost attacked their grandfather one Halloween, when grandpa showed up in a scary costume with a sickle. Max loved his kids.
He had woods to play in, bunnies to chase, and a large porch to collapse on (or under), day or night, when the mood struck him. Max was a junk food junkie, and loved all of the restaurant leftovers that we brought him. He seemed especially fond of french fries, as evidenced by my difficulty carrying his body out of the Durango.

Max now rests near the sounds of the children he always loved, and always protected. Sure, he passed a little early. But he lived well. He lived doing the things he loved. He was not constrained by fences or leashes. He had the company of other good dogs who groomed him as often as he groomed them. I suppose the lesson is, we should all live so well. That way, if our end comes quickly or slowly, it’s still the end of something wonderful. And hopefully, the beginning of something wonderful too.

So long Max. We love you!


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