Rest in peace, Maxx

Rest in peace, good and true friend…

Last night we said good-bye to a cherished member of our family. Our Maxx, a black Lab, succumbed to lymphoma. She was 15 years old. This was a difficult decision for us to make, but it was also the kindest one. We could no longer allow her to suffer, and chose to end her pain.

We will all miss her terribly.

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This is her story (originally posted May, 2010):

This is Maxx, not Maxine, not Max, just Maxx. We had the name (think ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’), before we had the dog.

Maxx is our alpha female (just don’t tell Pollo, it would hurt her feelings). She is pushing 14, which for a Labrador is OLD. She’s actually a Lab/Chow mix, with more of a chow head shape and coarse coat.

When she was a puppy, as puppies will, she chewed on everything. One day I noticed what I thought were ink stains in her mouth. Worried she had gnawed on a pen and perhaps still had dangerous shards of plastic in her mouth, I wrestle her to the ground (even then she was a big dog), rooting around trying to find these potential choking hazards.

It was only once I had a good look at these ‘ink spots’ that I remembered that Chows have purple tongues. What I thought were stains, were actually purple freckles.

For an old girl, Maxx is doing pretty well. She has arthritis and doesn’t move as fast as she once did. Having to leave harassment of our squirrels to Hershey, even though she still insists on being the first one out the back door.

Lately Maxx’s favorite pastime is sleeping… on her comfy bed in the living room, in a patch of sunlight at the backdoor, in wallow of soft sand in the yard, or at the foot of my bed. She dreams a lot now. I watch her twitching and gruffing, maybe she’s still chasing those squirrels.

Her once jet black coat is turning a russet shade, grey peppering her muzzle and chest. Her eyes dulling with age and cataracts, but her bark deeper and more resonant. She still commands the other pets with a single bellow.

She has been a cherished member of our family since the day she arrived, small enough to fit in the crook of my arm. Even at 80 pounds, she thinks she’s a puppy, wanting to snuggle when she no longer fits on anyone’s lap. After being away from home, Maxx meets us at the door, demanding we acknowledge her need for a warm hand on her back and scratch behind her ear before she lets us into the house.

When JM and WK were small, and we would be rough housing with them, if Maxx thought we were getting too rough, she would insert herself between me or Hubs and the kids, often grabbing our arms in her mouth and trying to pull us away… protecting ‘her’ kids. Thinking of that today, I feel that familiar lump in my throat, knowing Maxx would fight for my kids, even against me and their dad.

She did the same thing with Pollo and Scruffy if she thought Hershey was being too mean to the littlest furkids. Always the mommy, always the protector.

Maxx is more than just a dog, or simply a pet, she IS family.

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

26 thoughts on “Rest in peace, Maxx

  1. Oh dear Mama T, I just read this. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my Charlie (yellow lab) when I was in college and then I lost the love of my life, Moritz (black & white tabby) right after I had graduated college. It is NOT easy to deal with the loss of a pet and I am hugging you from the other coast right now. ❤

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