March 10, 2017
The speakers blasted the theme song of my favorite show, the oven beeped, but above this commotion, this odd rattling noise came from the back hall. Curiously getting up from the couch, not knowing if someone had broken into the house or if Max was just in the middle of one of his intense dreams, I walked to the source of the noise. I turned the corner to see Max shaking helplessly, violently, and uncontrollably in his crate. I froze. I thought I was watching my dog have a heart attack right in front of me. Sobbing, I called my mom over and over again until she picked up, putting her clients on hold. After I hung up the phone, I stuck my head into the crate and laid with Max, running my fingers through his smooth, black fur. It was the first of many seizures, but they were more than just seizures for Max and our family––this proved to be the beginning of the end for our beloved puppy.
* * *
Tired and hungry, but in a race against the clock, I ran around my house grabbing food, drinks, and supplies before bolting down the stairs to get to work on my gift for Max. I started planning out a design, scoring and sawing wood before this incredible idea slipped from my fingertips. Not knowing when his last day would be, I knew I had to finish this project as soon as possible. I had crafted a black wooden sign with white lettering and a note from my family for Max, to place in our yard.
* * *
My dad and I watched TV in the basement, my brother sat in his room doing homework, and my mom laid on the kitchen floor with Max. As she pet him, she noticed his breathing getting heavier and slower. She called us all to the family room and we watched him as he laid down in his doggie bed, his 75-pound frame curled into a ball. As a family, we talked about our baby’s illness and our options. Unanimously, we decided that we didn’t want our dog to suffer any longer than he had to, so we agreed it was time to bring him to the hospital.
I walked downstairs to the basement, grabbed the sign from under the stairwell and crawled stair by stair, back up to the family room. My mom asked, “What do you have, Bear?” No response from me; words weren’t needed. She read what was in my hands and lost every ounce of self-control she had in her as the tears streamed down her face.
By this time, my dad and brother had reentered the room where Max laid, and they too were unable to hold back their tears as they read the sign that I had placed beside Max. When we got to the hospital, Max paced around the lobby, waiting for our room to be ready. I remember him going to the end of the building and down a set of stairs. I followed him and found him laying on the floor around the corner; I laid with him there, talking to him and petting him during his final moments. When the doctor called us in, I lifted him up to his feet, gave him a treat I had brought and walked with him to the room where the rest of my family and the doctor waited. Inside the room, he walked in circles as we all sat and watched him, taking in every last bit that we could.
When the time came to inject him, my brother didn’t want to be there so he left the room with my dad. My mom and I stayed with Max, during a time I thought was only right as his life faded. I laid there with him, crying uncontrollably. My mom asked me why I stayed in the room with him. I had to type my answer because I couldn’t speak. “I was with him when this started; I want to be with him when it ends.”
It was July 23, 2013. He was only 6 years old.