March 17 1978 —- Dec. 23 1993

Golden Lab

Max wasn’t bought for me. He was family dog.

But over the next fifteen years he undsiputably became mine.

When we brought him home he was smaller than our miniature doberman

but quickly grew to an enormous size. Max spent his first six years with our family

on a big farm in rural Ontario and in the summer he would bring us gifts –

sometimes a groundhog whose neck he had snapped once a removed calf leg

from a neighbour’s farm and once – horribly – a bear trap laid in our woods.

Max lost two front toes from that trap but the most amazing thing is how he

managed to drag home the best part of an old oak that the trap had been shanked

to and slept that night in the barn until we found him.

That trap changed Max’s life. He discovered that by holding up his injured paw to us

and to visitors especially he could obtain great attention and much affection.

Max loved his frisbee. When I was with him I would throw it over the

five foot barnyard fence and without looking back he would sail over it

clearing it to bring that frisbee back to me.

It was a trick he should never have learned.

Max was terrified of thunderstorms and even after we moved to the

outskirts of the city Max would slip his collar and take off at the first

loud boom before we could get him in.

Once we found him stucked inside huge culvert pipes in a builder’s yard

making friends with the workmen.

Max would do anything for me – I dragged him around County Fairs made

him ride in wheelbarrows suffered him through pet shows at retirement

homes – anything I wanted him to do.

The Christmas before I was married my then fiance spent the holiday

getting up each night at Max’s cries to take my old incontinent dog outside

waiting in the snowdrifts until he had finished then carrying him back in

as he could no longer walk at night from arthritis.

It was not my decision to put Max to sleep. My family and fiance decided

what was best and two days before Christmas my father my fiance

and I took him out to the car.

Max loved the car. Max loved the vet. Max loved everybody.

He was more lively and excited that day – going in the car!

It was killing me to take him. We all cried and I held his head and

told him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him.

That’s what I remember saying you are such a good boy such a good boy.

And then he was gone. Sometimes my father will tell me something I didn’t know –

some experience walking Max that I had not been a part of.

How he wore a path in the grass all the way around the house waiting for

us to pay him attention. Or my mother will suddenly remember how he used

to growl at her and put his big paws on her chest if she pretended to

be angry with my brother or I.

I remember most my friend – my friend who waited every day at the

end of the drive for the schooolbus to bring us home.

What did he do all day while I learned about Africa and Canadian Prime Ministers

and the square root of whatever.

I have forgotten those things but I will always remember Max.

He was my dog. He was my friend.

He would have liked the dog I have now Shelby.

She would have loved him.

We all loved him.

I miss you boy. I know you are happy and pain-free and sometime

you and me and Garf and Muppet and Mindy and Binky and everybody

will all be together with Shelby and Charlie and Shadow and BJ

and Cobweb and Bailey and Pye.

I promise.