Saturday, May 29, 2010

What I Learned from Max

Rest in peace, Max Decaney.

I found Max in a newspaper ad in Atlanta, Georgia.  In 2000 I had been kicking around the idea of adopting a dog.  But what kind?  On a visit to New York I discovered that my friend had just adopted a pitbull.  I was scared to meet Portia, but she quickly turned all the negativity I heard about pitbulls around.  I found out first hand that pitbulls were funny, smart, athletic and very loving.  In the media they were the underdogs.  With their families they were the champions of joy and happiness.

I got home to Atlanta and started looking.  When I called about Max the woman who answered told me that they would really like me to come and meet him.  They were desperately trying to find a home for him because they couldn't keep him.  When I walked into their home, Max slowly came out of the dining room, walked straight to me, and sat on my foot.  "I guess he chose you," his foster mom said.

I spent a day thinking about it.  His foster parents told me that they were going to put him to sleep if they couldn't find a proper home for him, because out of the 28 calls they received, 27 of the people who called asked what kind of fighting dog he was.  I was the only one who wanted him as a family pet.

Needless to say, the girl who wanted to be a vet, who could never have a dog because her mother was allergic, took a huge step and adopted a dog in the spring of 2000.

The first years were rough.  Per the suggestion of his foster home, I tried crating him to keep him calm but Max HATED crates.  I eventually thought it was because he was claustrophobic.  Even if he was in the same place that I left him in when I came back, he would much rather have the option of being free to roam when he wanted rather than be confined to one small place.  This was probably the first of many similarities between us that I realized over time.

Max didn't know that I was his forever home.  He had terrible separation anxiety.  I would leave for five minutes to go to the laundry room and when I came back an entire comforter would be shredded on the floor.  Max destroyed entire pairs of shoes, clothing, towels, and - once - a purple winter jacket I bought for him.  (I gave him that, though.  I figured he didn't want to look girly.)  It was a huge adjustment for me to come home every day at lunch and be home every night right after work.  The first year was the hardest adjustment for both of us.  I considered giving him away.  But where would he go?  I felt very protective of a dog who others just wanted for sport.

Over time our relationship got better.  We started to understand each other and his separation anxiety got better.  We spent many wonderful evenings in Atlanta walking to Piedmont Park, meeting friends like Randall and Barney (Randall was human, Barney was the first good pitbill ambassador that Max got to learn from), and meeting other dogs in the neighborhood and our building.

We lived in about four apartments and a house in Atlanta.  Then it was on to New York.  Max was a dog built for a busy neighborhood.  He loved meeting other people and other dogs.  There was always someone to meet when we stepped out the door.  Over time we had two wonderful roommates, an excellent dog walker and a marvelous pet sitter.

Max was known for his sense of humor and his ability to change people's minds about pitbulls.  There was never a time I saw him aggressive or in a bad mood.  He never barked.  Ever.  Not inside, not on the street.  We got broken into three times in Brooklyn, and each time we were home.  He never even left the bed.  He was the epitome of what my friend said about pitbulls as watchdogs.  What, you're here to steal the china?  Let me help you pack it.  Do you have a treat, maybe? 

Each person he met he treated like an old friend.  When he took food, he wasn't like his friend Hiram the lab, who would take your arm off if you gave him a treat.  He was always a gentleman.  A 2 year old could give him a piece of bacon and he would take it with the best of table manners.    Once, when we were on a walk in Brooklyn, an entire gang of three year olds jumped out of a van and surrounded him while we walked down the street, most barely as tall as his head.  He walked down the street with them, surrounded, three to each side, while their arms were around his neck and on his back, the pied piper of 15th Street.

By the time we moved to Boise Max was getting older.  He didn't jump as much.  He had definitely calmed down with age, but he never lost his sense of adventure or his gentle demeanor.  Even when staying on a farm in Indiana!  (He didn't understand what horses were, though.)  He still loved belly rubs and cheese, and most of all, he loved being around people.

When we recently found out he had a very aggressive form of cancer, the decision to euthanize him was a quick one.  He was in a lot of pain and I knew he wouldn't want to live a life so altered by pain meds that he wouldn't be able to walk, run, or interact with the people he loved.  The only thing harder that I ever had to do in my life was sit with my grandmother when I knew it would be the last time I would see her alive.

Max was my only family for years.  When I lived in Atlanta and New York and all my family was on the west coast, he was who I came home to, always had a smile for me, snuggled up to me if I was feeling blue.  Every decision I made in my life over the last ten years was with Max in mind first.  Everything I did, and the many things I didn't do, was because he was at home waiting for me. 

I hope he knows that.  I hope he knows that he taught me responsibility, selflessness, positivity, forgiveness, the power of unconditional love.  He changed my life for the better, and now my life won't be the same without him.

I love you, Max.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
                                      ee cummings

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lots to Say!

It's been a while yet again. I'm sorry, dear readers.  My last post was on April 18th, which, to a dog, is like 133 days ago.  A lot has happened since then, even by your human standards.

I had surgery. 

See the scar?
I have great doctors at Pets First Animal Clinic in Boise.  Shout out to Dr. McKown, Dr. Eklund and their wonderful staff for taking such good care of me!!!  Hopefully the growth on my shoulder will not come back.  But for now it's healing well and I feel much better now that I'm not high on pain meds and anesthesia.  My family thought it was pretty funny the way I looked at them after surgery.  The way I looked, they thought I was seeing 12 of them.  And you know what?  They were right!  Why do humans like to get high?  You can't walk, you don't want to eat, and all you do is sleep all day! 
Recently I also supervised some housework...

This is me, watching the paint crew (Papa Cef, Auntie Debbie and Maria) with Nancy, or as I like to call her, Mama Queso.  For a long time she was The Cheese Lady, but I thought that since I have a Papa Cef, "Mama Queso" would sound better.

And guess what?  The painting was taking place at my new house!

I'm still getting used to the new smells and the new place.  Papa Cef is going to build me a new fence.

Well, it's time to go lay down.  I will write soon!  Sooner than 133 days!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Old Dogs

I thought I would post a picture of how I update my blog.  I have final say in all the content, but my web master is the one who has the thumbs.

Lately I've been having a bit of a hard time, as you can see in the photo above.  The bandage on my shoulder is covering a growth that is getting bigger and bigger.  It doesn't really bother me, other than being itchy.  I had a similar growth taken off in the same place a few months ago.  ((SIGH))  Eventually I will have to have this one surgically removed too.

Also, a couple weeks ago I had a problem with my back and had to go to the emergency room.  I have some sort of problem with my vertebrae and I'll have to have surgery on that, too.  It can be painful, but more than anything it is really impeding my mountain climbing time!  My family thinks that I was a goat in a past life because I like spending time on the hills created by the retaining walls in the backyard.

I've also been spending a lot of time eating the rose bushes, which I know I shouldn't be doing - but I can't help it!  They are delicious!!!  Remember Dorothy the Dinosaur from The Wiggles?  She loved roses and I never understood why until I tasted the bushes in my Papa Cef's and Mama Queso's backyard. 

Perhaps I will be able to find an alternative to rose bushes, so my family doesn't have to get mad at me.  Also, it would be great to find a scrumptious snack that won't make my gums bleed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blue Dogs

The world seems to be in an uproar lately about health care.  Nobody's getting along.  But I think it's more than that.  Dogs are dogs.  We don't put labels on each other.  But I think it's all these labels that humans are putting on each other that's causing the problem.  Liberal, Progressive, Conservative, Democrat, Republican, Blue Dog... wait.  Blue dog?!  I was shocked to hear this.


Because although there is such a thing as a blue nosed pitbull (see above), there is no such thing as a dog who is into politics.  Politics, my dear reader, is where I think humans got it wrong.

Man, haven't you learned anything at all from your best friend?  Maybe if you spent more time with those of us of the canine persuasion you would understand how to treat each other better.  So here are some tips on how to start:

Forgive and forget.  Why hold a grudge?  If I held a grudge for every time my family left me home alone or every time someone was eating chicken and didn't give me any I would be mad all the time.  Let it go and be happy!

Be nice.  True, not all dogs are nice.  But most of them know how to treat each other.  Most of them know the protocol of how to act, react, and get along so that the entire dog park is a pleasant place to hang out.  And if someone is different than you, that's not a reason to fight.  It IS a great reason to get to know each other by taking a nap together.

Love unconditionally...


                                                            ... All we have is each other. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

In all my life I've never had a doggy door. When I was younger I could hold it all day long and then some. But as I've gotten older it's gotten harder for me to wait. So my grandpa made me this door. Can you believe that it only took them 10 minutes to show me how to use it? I may be old but I'm still sharp!

The door is homemade and fits into the sliding glass door and sometimes, if you come home on a sunny day, you will catch me catching some rays in the back yard. If it's cold and wet, I'll be curled up inside behind the furniture! Good thing I live in a place where it doesn't rain all the time!

There is something to be said for owning your own power tools. For 15.00 my grandpa made a door that usually costs around 400.00.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Today was a great day for a barbecue!

And yes, I did eat some!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My brackets

Okay, okay. I don't really have any brackets. As March Madness continues I only have one favorite.

Although I've never been to Seattle, Washington I have an interest in the Washington-Marquette game because my family is from there. As a matter of fact, my gramma still lives there, as do my aunts and uncle, and my cousins (Hi, Olivia, Allani and Q!).

But the main reason I want Washington to win is, of course, because they are the Washington Huskies. So here's a tip for those of you who ARE completing brackets: Look for the dogs. They're the winners!