For Maximus

The first time we were introduced, I expected the worst from you. I had been warned that you were cool but had some ‘issues’, and that I should take caution at our first meeting. I had a pretty uninformed opinion on your type, but apprehension was my first emotion. Then, I met you. I had no idea how much you would eventually change me for the better. You would teach me about forgiveness, dedication, love, caution, responsibility, and ultimately unwavering trust. Those are some big lessons for anyone, and you did that without a single word. I never realized how special you would be to me, and how much love you and your dad had to share.

You were a big, strong guy, with a barrel of a chest and a loud rambunctious bark. Your white fur and pink nose made you look like a big old polar bear mixed with a pig, bounding with playful energy around the one bedroom apartment. Other times you were quiet, a panting bear skin rug just happy to be with his people, therapeutic and warm. I slept with you before I slept with your dad–we curled up together on the fuzzy purple loveseat you claimed as yours, a fact which I was unaware of at the time…and you were sweet enough to share it with me, never a growl or a sideways glance. Your shedding was absolutely ungodly, and I often rode the train home looking like I was an insane dog lady. You had first cuddles, always. You accepted me as one of your buds, and from that point on I felt your love.

You had been abused by your first ‘owners’ (I use the word angrily)-addicts that didn’t feed or train you, and left you with a terror of kennels, puppy nightmares, and massive distrust for new people. Luckily, you were rescued by a man with integrity, someone who you could trust until your last breath, and you dedicated yourself to him one hundred percent. He worked hard with you to build that commitment. It was a long and sometimes difficult journey for you both. You relied on the chain of trust, built and extending from the one man you held above all others. You were a city dog, and a family dog-you had a boy to care for, as well as his mom, and you looked out for them and loved them for years before we ever met. You learned to play. You were a hyper young guy that would chase a blue raquet ball under the futon, and then bark hysterically, because someone had to dig it out for you. GET IT! Repeatedly. For half an hour. Best game ever! Human training.

When your dad and I got together, you had already comforted me through one of the most difficult times of my life. He brought you to see me at my mom’s house, and you cuddled me for all you were worth, right before she passed. There was this silent, special strength that you had, and it was incredible. You were a therapy dog without formal training, a survivor that innately knew how to deal with emotional pain and traumatic sadness. That’s why we called you “Max the Therapist”, you were always there for the hard times with your silent, strong, warm body. You were comfort. I will truly miss that.

We moved you with us out of the city, so you could enjoy nature in your older years. Not without its initial hiccups, the relaxed country life was something we were finally able to give you. The same misconceptions I had when I first met you, followed us here, and I was disgusted that your peaceful home could be threatened by money grubbing scumbags and overly educated behaviorist strangers. You were so loved, so many friends to reflect on your strong character and dedication, I was so moved. Yes, you were a pittie, and that made you vulnerable to bad humans….but you had found the good ones, and everyone that loved your dad, also loved you. We kept you safe from others that would do you harm.

Max was there for our big day to hold the rings

You were the most handsome ring bearer in any wedding, ever. You were patient when were were hours late, good for the ceremony, and fantastic for pictures-my prince’s white steed. You were a great older brother to the little maniac puppy we brought home right around that time, too. You helped us raise Ozwald and eventually became his keeper, looking over him and protecting him as you did with those you loved. You also nurtured the girls we acquired during your later years, adding everyone to the pack and keeping the peace. You were the first and head of our crazy fur kids. I am so proud that I got to be your mama for the later part of your life. I’ll always see you panting in the sunshine, and rolling around on the fresh grass giving yourself slight grass stains on your white back. Mama loved you first Max, even before I loved daddy.

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