Have you ever felt such heartbreak that you can’t breathe?
That you chest hurts from the emotion and you’re so pained that you can’t even remember how to cry? How to gasp for breath for the sadness that you feel?
Well I do..
It’s such a long time coming, I knew it was happening years ago after our first dog had died, yup. He was our dog..but this dog, my dog. Max, he was my ‘pup’, I called him baby for most of his life..I mean..I’m pretty sure he thought it was his name ‘baby’ he was just young looking, he stayed jet black up until his last day.
He was so dopey and clueless but he was mine and I really wouldn’t have changed him for any other dog..he was hopeless and useless and clumsy.. like a drunk best friend that you don’t want to hang out with but at the end of the day they’re the one holding your hand and looking after you when all goes tits up. That was him he seemed to understand when I was upset..
Max was 13..we’d had him from around 4 weeks and he (of course) was the runt of the litter of Shih Tzu’s, he had blue skin black hair and a crooked tail but he was perfect.
From the moment we I saw his head pop out of the woman’s wax jacket, I loved him. Me and my mum has walked around to the back of the primary school for a ‘surprise’ I thought we were getting bikes..I would’ve been happy with that! Instead there was just a mum with her kids. My mum got all excited about it and held my hand. She squeezed it so I looked up “You’ll have to keep it a surprise, the others don’t know so I want them to be surprised when I come back later…”
…Ok? I honestly had no Idea what she was talking about..but we both went up to the woman in the green wax coat, out popped this little back face with a big white triangle on his head. He was so full of excitement and I just wanted him then and there. He was so tiny. He could fit comfortably in the palm of my hand..
Which he did..until he grew up.That’s the saddest part of his story..
We had another dog too, The best dog. Mushu.
I don’t want to sound like ‘that person’ but he was the king of dogs. He understood full conversations, he’d sit on laps and roll around on the floor so you can play with him. He was bloody brilliant, so in control affectionate and playful, he was the best dog in the world. So, poor little pup max didn’t really get much of a look-in..
Not that we weren’t loving..but we were kids and teens and he didn’t play, he didn’t have fun or get involved and of course wonderdog just kind of took our attention, I think that’s why I took to Max so much. I felt like we were the same, always left out and a bit different. So I mothered him I looked after him and he did the same for me. Not as much as he did for me, I really don’t think I spent much time with him at all compared to how we all cared for Mushu and I think that what hurt so much when Mushu went. We all realised that both dogs were old and we’d only really spent time with one of them.
Poor max had the last four years with us, where we tried to teach him how to play..but ofcourse the kids came along and it went back to him being in the shadows again, he had this habit of always wanting to lie as close as humanly possibly to me. So when I was getting under me or barking at me for the 10,00th time. I’d just brush him away and tell him off.It’s moments like that that make me hate myself,or at least how we treated him..he just wanted the attention we’d never really given him, the attention a dog deserves.
As he grew old, we went off to work..so he’d be at home for most of the day by himself, sitting in the window watching the people. He was always people watching and he loved children. There wasn’t a moment where we could walk past a child without him tugging to jump up to them. Then there were leaves, the amount of times he’d run into roads to chase leaves!
But that’s all in the past because he grew up and he grew tired. Towards the end he began to sleep almost all day. Any nook and cranny he could find that looked even remotely comfortable (sometimes just plastic bags) anything except for his bed!
It wasn’t a shock that he’d grown old, it just felt like we’d only just had him we lost Mushu but we gained max and four years just didn’t feel like enough time with him.
..There was silence as they came into the house I knew it had happened, well I thought it had but I guess I was just kidding myself.
I’d been baby sitting my 3 nephews for the day and I could hear my sister come through the front door being her loud self..calling out ”Hellooo!! Where’s my baby?’ so I got the two youngest and brought them downstairs carrying him down in my arms, She looked as I passed him over and she said
“oh, I was just looking for my baby. Hello baba!”…
I don’t know why I did it, my mouth just started moving before my brain did..but I just needed her to know I was hurting..
“I have him..I have your baby..I don’t suppose you have mine do you?”..
I looked at her and I just started shaking my head whilst I was talking, eyes filling with tears and.I think she could see in my face how upset I was, but she didn’t click why..I could barely stifle back the tears to say the words and she looked at my mum in the kitchen as I broke down..
“You don’t have him… do you?” “..He’s not with you?”
I think my body was just in shock when I saw her look to the floor and shake her head. It just didn’t click until I saw my mum.. I just didn’t know what to say. That’s when I looked to my brother ( he’s really been looking after Max for the last month or so as Ive gone back to work, taking time to just be with him when I can’t..) He broke down too…
It took a lot that day, for them to take him because I knew what would happen. What the doctors verdict would be..I cried as they walked him out of the house, walking him up and down the path before they popped him in the car “Don’t get upset..stop being silly, they’ll probably just give him a cream or something” .. I shook my head and smiled and said “I know I know, I can’t help it..I know”
But, I didn’t say I know he’d be fine. I couldn’t lie..I knew he wasn’t fine. Maybe they were just being strong and making me feel better but seeing him walk to the car almost destroyed me. They took the step I just couldn’t bring myself to take, I could see the pain in him and didn’t want it to go on any longer. His hips has almost completely given up and his hourly run around the garden had become a daily sit on the lower step, he’d lift his head up to feel the breeze and sit there for an hour or so..then trot back into the house. Barking at any door way because he couldn’t tell if the door was open (they always were, because of this..)
It was so awful to see him sit in the garden,I wanted to go and play with him but all I could muster was to sit with him.. He’d become spooked though, as he couldn’t see me walking up next to him..He couldn’t see my shadow or hear my footsteps.. I’d find myself purposely moving around loudly so I didn’t startle him.
For the last 5 months he was really suffering , not constantly but he’d get moments where he suffered with his hips and paw..and I just couldn’t face it. I’m so weak though, I sort of withdrew and wouldn’t or couldn’t spend as much time with him in the morning, I told myself it was because I was busy with work but really? I guess I just couldn’t bare to see him in pain.Listening to his shallow breathing.
Which is why I appreciate him being put down. I just couldn’t do it.. he was my baby, he was my awkward and annoying friend but he wanted me. Noone really did before him.. I was always the annoying little sister or the friend but not the best friend. But I was his best friend. He’d choose me to sit next to. My door to bark at and my clothes to sleep on because he just wanted to be with me…
I miss him so much, selfish me..again. Now that I want him, now that I have the time to take for him..he’s gone and I’m not upset that he was put down because he’s not suffering anymore. I’m upset that I’m being so selfish to want him here with me. I’m pissed off that I can’t ruffle his head anymore or pick him up and carry him around like he’s a baby. Most of all though I’m angry that in 3 months.. 6 months and in years ahead of this I might forget that he always smelt awful, even after a bath..or that he really hated anything that looked like scissors or that he’d snore..loudly. I just don’t want to forget how much I loved him and how much I hope he loved me back.
It’s taken me a few days to write this up because every time I think of his little face I just become so overwhelmed with emotion I just can’t write.
I know I’m an emotional person anyway but to have such an amazing experience of having a dog in my life I really don’t think I can do it again, I’ve had my time and my pets but I can’t put time into having a dog unless I can give the time back that they deserve and for now. Max was mine and I think he always will be..maybe another dog will come close..but for now I’m just happy to miss him and sad that I didn’t use the time how I should have.
For Max. From ‘Mommy’..