In Memoriam: Max. 2003 – 2014

posted at 8:01 am on May 6, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Max died on Friday, May 2nd, at 9:30 AM, at the animal hospital where his vets always saw to him. He was either ten or eleven years old, though we don’t know for sure. He was a tiny, frightened little dog who had been dealt a really crappy hand in life. Generally, when I’ve had to say goodbye to one of our pets, I find some way to find a bit of solace in celebrating the life they had, at least after sufficient time has passed for grieving. But with Max, it’s hard to see the golden lining and I’m left with more than the usual amount of pain and ugly, painful questions I may never be able to answer.

Max came to us in an unorthodox way right from the start. After our first dog, Kenya, passed away, our other dog, Mr. Basset, was left as the single dog in our house. He had spent his earlier years before joining us in a two dog household, sharing his world with a little miniature dachshund. He seemed lonely, and we set out to essentially get Mr. Basset a pet of his own. When we arrived at the shelter there were many good dogs there looking for homes, but none of them really spoke to us. We had nearly settled on a different mixed breed when the caretakers informed us that they had another small dog they could show us if we liked, but he was not on display in the adoption areas because he “had issues.”

They brought the as yet unnamed Max down from a room upstairs. He was a purebred miniature schnauzer, gray in color, maybe 15 pounds. He was clearly terrified. The caretakers explained that he had been seized by the police during a raid on a puppy mill. He’d been held as possible “evidence” until the trial was over, and then made available for adoption, but he was not being shown to interested adoptive families.
He had spent his entire life as a “breeder” in a barn, probably never having been allowed out of his cage and never knowing the kindness of a family. He was neurotic. He would not approach or show affection to anyone. He did not bark or make any sounds aside from whimpering. Ever. There were “incidents of aggression.” We learned later in the process that if he hadn’t found someone to take him in the next week, as bad as they felt about it, he was going to be destroyed. He was in no way a suitable pet.

So, of course, we took him.

We brought him home, showed him to the back yard where he would do his business and let him loose to look around the house. He didn’t move. He would not go down the back steps to the yard or up the steps to the second floor. Max had never seen stairs and didn’t know what to make of them. So we carried him. The first night we put him on the bed to sleep with us, thinking it would make him feel more at home and get used to our presence. He sat up on the end of the bed all night, shivering. I’m not sure if he ever slept at all that night. He did eventually learn to climb stairs, though, and would happily go out back or down the front steps, but it took time.
Mr. Basset like him well enough and tried following him around, but the small dog just looked alarmed. I know the basset grew to love him and slept near him when he could, but I don’t know how Max felt. Which brings us to his name. For the first couple of days, we couldn’t settle on a name, and we were simply referring to him as “the little dog.” We even began calling him Little Dog. But a few nights later we were watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on TV. (The cartoon, not the awful Jim Carrey movie.) When the Grinch’s little dog came on, pulling the sled, we both immediately agreed that was who we had with us and his name was Max. But for all his days, we both probably still called him Little Dog more often than Max.

For all the love we gave him, problems quickly appeared with Max. Once he finally seemed to settle in and accept that this was his new home and we were his family now, Max’s personality began to develop. He was extremely protective of us… particularly my wife. He was territorial, at least as much as a frightened, neurotic little dog could be. As long as it was just us, he was content to sit on the couch with us or in the little beds that we got for him. But with anyone else he was unpredictable and unpleasant. Over the coming years he actually bit more than a dozen people, including, but not limited to:

My mother-in-law.
My father-in-law.
Three nieces.
Two nephews.
One dog sitter.
One neighbor.
The cable TV installation man.

He fortunately never broke skin or drew blood and we avoided any legal trouble. But he was unpleasant to the rest of the world. My wife only half-jokingly said Max and I were a good match, as I don’t get along that well with other people either and make friends very slowly. People didn’t like Max. Our family did not like him and were unhappy that we would always bring Max when we came for a visit. But if Max was not welcome one of us would stay home, so along Max came for every holiday and family gathering.

Max loved us, but he did not like anyone else.
Also, Max’s neurosis manifested in other ways. He was unable to play. If you threw a ball for him, he would never try to fetch. Throwing the ball alarmed him and he would run to his bed and sit there. Mr. Basset would try to engage him in play outside in the yard sometimes, but it only made Max look frightened and confused. He couldn’t grasp the idea of the toys we bought for him.

But there were good times as well. Max loved going to camp up at the lake in the mountains and would explore the woods. (Though he never set foot in the water.) And while he would not play at home, he was willing to sit quietly with us. He spent most of his time sitting on the end of the couch a few feet from me while I worked on my computer. And he loved going for his walks, first with Mr. Basset and then just the two of us or with my wife after the big dog has passed on.

One of the best moments came during the first year when we returned from a walk. The dogs always got a biscuit or cookie or other treat when we got home and the basset would howl with anticipation and joy as he waited for his treat. One day, out of the blue, for the first time ever, as the basset howled, Max reared up on his little back legs and bayed. It wasn’t a regular bark like a little yapping dog. He was imitating the basset, baying like a hound but in a high, tinny voice. He barked like that upon coming home for most of the rest of his life.

Aside from his mental issues, Max was unusually healthy for the next six years and even learned to be tolerant and a good patient at the vet’s office. I think our doctors were the only other human beings he ever warmed up to. But when the beginning of the end came, it came fast. And when the actual end came, it was terrible.
This winter Max began acting oddly, drinking too much water and urinating too much. We assumed it was a urinary tract infection – not uncommon in pets – and to the doctors we went. When the diagnosis came back that Max had diabetes, I still wasn’t that alarmed. Our Sassy Fat Cat had diabetes and lived another five years with insulin injections twice a day. I was experienced at giving shots.

But Max didn’t respond well to the insulin. His blood sugar rocketed up and down and would rarely stabilize well. He was put on additional medications, pills to take, steroids, painkillers. For a while, he seemed to level out. But then he began acting tentative when trying to come up the back steps. I looked at him closely. (His eyes were always harder to see with those bushy eyebrows.) They were clouded over. Back to the vet’s office we went. He had developed massive cataracts as a result of the diabetes. Max went from having normal vision to being completely blind in a matter of weeks. He would no longer climb steps and couldn’t learn to even make it from room to room without bumping into things. We were back to carrying Max as we had in his first days.

The vets told us that surgery to remove his corneas could restore his vision, albeit not at close range. But he would be able to see well enough to get around. The best animal ophthalmologists around were at Cornell University. We called to get the information and found that the surgery alone would cost $3,500. A ridiculous sum for our finances, but if it could achieve what they claimed, it would restore Max’s quality of life to a point he could deal with it so off we went.

We were informed that Max was not a candidate for surgery, at least not then. The pressure in his eyes was too great and the eye tissue was damaged on one side and not healing. More drugs, including two kinds of eye drops, were required. Max’s life was now a series of periods of napping, being carried outside to do his business, or short, tentative walks where he followed our voice signals, interrupted by multiple daily sessions of shoving pills down his throat and getting drops in his eyes. He was miserable, but if it led to his getting the surgery in short order and returning to wellness and sight and getting a few more good years of life, we would do it.
Even blind, Max always knew where I was. He knew if I was in the room with him, and if I wasn’t, he would usually try to stumble his way to where I was to find me. When I came home from work, he knew I was coming before I reached the porch and would be standing in the hall near the front door when I arrived. I had to be careful not to bump him in the nose with the door when I opened it.

On his follow-up visit, the Cornell experts said that Max just, “couldn’t catch a break.” The medicines were not doing enough and he still couldn’t be risked for surgery. More procedures on his lens, more drugs. It had become too much to watch and we struggled with what to do. And then, last week, while awaiting his next follow-up at Cornell, he took another turn. He was rushed to the vet’s for more testing where his blood work revealed that his liver was enlarged and failing. On Thursday they admitted him to keep him overnight on an IV and see if they could stabilize him.

I didn’t know it yet, but I was sending Max to spend his last night on Earth alone in a steel cage at the hospital, though we stayed with him there for a while before closing. That night, at roughly 2:30 AM, I awoke in my bed shaking and shivering uncontrollably. I’d somehow come down with the flu with no forewarning symptoms which I’d noticed. I alternated from shivering to sweating and running a fever. By morning I was a mess. To compound matters, the vet’s office called and the news was for the worst. Max had not stabilized and had taken a further turn. Enough was enough, and we had to put an end to it, as he no longer had any hope of a decent quality of life. But I could barely make it out of bed and when my wife mentioned my condition to the doctors, they actually told her they would prefer I not come to the office if I was contagious.

As a compromise, they offered to tape up the IV in Max’s arm so it wouldn’t pull and send him home with my wife for an hour so he could sit with me and say goodbye. I hated the idea, but finally agreed. Max came home, we sat, I cried, I petted him. I said my goodbyes. My wife took him back and he was put to sleep in his little bed with his blanket. I was not there.

By the end of the weekend I was back on my feet and began the process of picking up the pieces. Yesterday I began putting up Max’s things. Packing up the food, the special foods he would eat even when he had little appetite toward the end. Gathering up the clothes, the bedding, and the special dog quilts my wife made for him. The leashes, the collars, the toys. Toys that were never played with. Max didn’t know how to play. He never learned how to play. He was content to simply sit with me on the couch and watch TV.

And I’m left wracked with guilt and questions. Why did I wait so long? Why did I put him through all that for nothing? And perhaps worst of all, why didn’t I tell the doctors to go to hell and drag myself out and go with him on his final trip? I had promised Max, as with all our pets, that I would see him through to the end. But when the end came, I sent him off to the Doctor without me. I wasn’t there. And Max knew I wasn’t there. He always knew where I was. And he faced the end without me.

Now, as I gather his things and go about my day, I keep mentally stumbling over Max again and again. It’s as if my brain keeps blocking out the fact of what happened only to allow me to discover it all over.

I find myself opening the door slowly when I come in, peeking around to make sure it’s clear. But Max will never bump his nose on the door again.

I finish eating and I find myself checking to see what’s left on my plate because I always saved something for him. But Max will not be having any more leftovers.

I wake up in the middle of the night to listen for his collar jingling, shaking his head as his signal that he once again needs to be carried out back with me in my bathrobe. But Max won’t be in the yard any more.

I check the weather map to see if rain is coming before his evening walk, because he hates going out in the rain. But Max won’t be going for any more walks.

I’m startled seeing the back door still locked after I came home from work. How could the back door be locked? Max was in and out the back door all day to go out in the yard and do his business. And then I remember.

Getting up in the morning, I head for his bed to carry him outside. But Max’s bed is gone.

Sitting here at my computer, I look at the end of the couch. Walter the cat is there sleeping in Max’s spot.

My wife and I are comforting each other, telling each other that we saved Max from a bad fate and that he had a good life. And for most of it with us, I think he had the best life he was capable of having. But I also think that when the very end came and the world had gone dark and nothing else was good, I failed him. And now I have to get these thoughts and emotions out of me for a while and move on with life. There will be another dog at the food dish, but not right away. And when that dog comes, if nothing else good came of this, I hope I learned something important so I do better next time.

Thank you for letting me share this with you, and I apologize for it being far too lengthy and depressing. But I needed to say goodbye to Max, and that we will always love you.

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I’m tattooed and vaguely scary in a way you can’t quite put your finger on Bishop on May 6, 2014 at 10:28 AM


graywaiter on May 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I’ve had a lot of cats. When they get old and sick you have to watch them. They want to go out somewhere and hide.

crankyoldlady on May 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

You did all that you could. Thank you.

I lost my friend, Kona, in January. This story is very familiar–sudden increase in drinking water was the first sign. Then, his breathing became labored. Eventually, the diagnosis was cancer. He weighed 11 lbs. (mini-dachshund) and they took 8 oz of fluid from his chest. Three days later, another 8 oz. They wanted to do multiple surgeries, but that was only to give him a chance to live another year. I couldn’t do it.

It still breaks my heart.

Much love to you and your family. Max lives.

diplomatsteve on May 6, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Aww poor Max and God bless you for taking him on. I can relate. Right after Christmas 2005 we adopted our Zippy from a shelter and he had issues too. When we saw him he was sitting in a pool of water and shivering as it was 30 degrees in his cell. He had cherry eye and looked miserable. I pick pets the way Charlie Brown picks Christmas trees, the more pitiful the better. We were going to get two dogs, one Zippy the other Doo Dah or Zip and Dew. Well that never happened because Zip was terrified of other dogs and his response was always aggression. He adored me and my son, tolerated my daughter and respected my husband as alpha. He was part dachshund and unbeknownst to us that breed has back issues. When he was 7 his spinal cord ruptured and he had to be put down. My husband and I cried like babies. To the outside world Zip was an aggressive little terror with a Napoleon complex but to us he was a loyal and loving pet. We will be getting another “special” shelter dog soon. They deserve extra love because their lives started out so rough. I’m so sorry about you Max.

neyney on May 6, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Dime IV on May 6, 2014 at 9:42 AM


Rainbow Bridge

They wait for us

JR, Kola & Miniko

koaiko on May 6, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Very sorry for your loss Jazz.

We actually just put our old girl down this morning. Picked her up as a stray while we were stationed in Okinawa 12 years ago. My wife loved that dog through all her medical issues and was devastated this morning.

Thanks for sharing your story. Those little furry guys can just wiggle right into your heart whether you like it or not. :)

CaptKurgan on May 6, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Read this early this morning …and just couldn’t comment . We lost a beloved dog
many years ago and the thought of her still chokes us up .
We made a mistake and didn’t get another dog for a few years . Don’t beat yourself up
Jazz but in a little while open your heart up to a loving new pup . Yup , a different one
that needs you as much as you need him or her .

Lucano on May 6, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Aw, Jazz – you were there. He knew.

The two of you gave Max the best possible life. Mourn the loss of your small friend, but rejoice in the happiness you shared.

juanito on May 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

In Memoriam: Max. 2003 – 2014

Godspeed Max.

Based on what Jazz has written in your honor, you certainly filled his life with joy.

rukiddingme on May 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM

And for most of it with us, I think he had the best life he was capable of having. But I also think that when the very end came and the world had gone dark and nothing else was good, I failed him.

And how did you fail him? Seems that you did the best that you were able – he certainly had as good a life as he was ever going to have. If not for you and your spouse, there might have been no life at all. The positives here certainly outweigh any negatives. And it seems that Max did the best that he was able for you, too, given his awful beginnings in life and how it affected him. Bless you for your patience here.

And thank you for sharing … :-)

majorzot on May 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM

My first thought was the same as those who posted here and I have a comment on the first page. My second thought was since Max was a breeder male, he was used to a certain type of playtime on a regular basis; then one day went cold turkey. If that happened to me……wait, what am I yapping about? I have been married for just over 22 years.

Again, RIP Max.

HonestLib on May 6, 2014 at 10:56 AM

To the world you are a pet rescuer. To Max you were the world.

justplainrick on May 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

So sorry for the loss of your furbaby.

Don’t second guess yourself. I am sure your dog knew you cared, and did the best by him.

Bless you for rescuing him! He probably rescued you right back.

melle1228 on May 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Very, truly sorry for your loss. Losing a pet(member of the family)is always extremely difficult. Remember all of the great times you had with him.

keepinitreal on May 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM


Know this. Max did catch at least one break. He was adopted by you and your family. You brought him into your family and showed him love.

I am so sorry for your loss and wish you solace from your grief. Know that Max is now at peace and you and your family made a difference for him.

I’m gonna go hug my dog now.

Wow is the pollen bad today…eyes are all red and puffy.

abnormal_1 on May 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Jazz – you and Georg gave Max wonderful senior years. A frightened, slightly neurotic dog is not for everyone and without you two he would have died a long time ago. Our Lucky took as quick of a turn as Max did – we did as you, explored options and then made the call to do the humane thing. Don’t beat yourself up. And as Lucano said, get another dog. When we had Lucky put to sleep, our intention was to give our frightened, slightly neurotic dog Jack time to be an “only”. After 6 months, he got worse and we realized just how much HE was missing the canine companionship so we got Jill. It’s done him a world of good and you know it will do you a world of good too.


Lady Logician on May 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Max had such a great face!! :)
He had a much better life from you and your wife than anyone else could have given him, so yes it was all worth it. This is the price we pay when we get a pet- we almost always outlive them so we’re the first to say goodbye. I hope you guys heal up soon. Take care.

PS- We also have a dog that “doesn’t play well with others.” He’s a huge German shepherd and he’s bitten a couple people, too. We just put him in our room when people come over. We LOVE that dog and I know he’d take a bullet for me or the kids if he had to.

ImmigrantsWife on May 6, 2014 at 11:14 AM

I am very sorry for your loss.

Evi L. Bloggerlady on May 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

That’s a sad coincidence–my beloved Bruce died on Saturday after a short illness (cancer). He was only ten years old.

So my condolences to you, and Bruce and Max are now chasing rabbits wherever they are.

segesta on May 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

We know the feeling and don’t beat yourself up. You gave him life and love and he knew it.

ksmoola1 on May 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM


I’m so very sorry for your loss.

Rest assured that Max knew you loved him and would only do what is best for him. I promised our dog Spencer that I would be with him when the time came – unfortunately that time came at home. We spent his last two years not moving furniture for fear in his blindness he would run into it in its new location.

Do not get trapped into having one event overshadow a lifetime of doing the best you could for him at every turn. It’s a natural thought but only because you cared so much for the little guy. Breathe in, breathe out; one day at a time. He knows you cared, as did our little guy.

That being said – it is still extremely hard, and I empathize with you.

LonePalm on May 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Oh Jazz, you brought more than one tear to my eye.
We have just adopted a tiny frightened Schnauzer who was also a victim of puppy-mill breeder hell. After she had several litters, she was just dumped into a high-kill shelter in Tennessee and left to be put down. Fortunately, the North Carolina Schnauzer Rescue organization pulled her out of the shelter, and now she has a forever-home where she is loved and cared for, treated gently and given a lot of love. She, too, is frightened of toys and it took weeks before she was confident enough to tackle the stairs. We think she is coming out of her shell, but she will never be a ‘normal’ dog and this is the legacy of the puppy mill business.
People need to be educated about the horrors these little dogs face, where they live their lives in cages and are taken out only to breed. They are fed just enough poor-quality food to keep them alive and never know the companionship of other dogs or of people. When the breeders have used them up, they dump them as they would a sack of garbage.
Max was indeed fortunate to have your love and care.
RIP Max.

maryo on May 6, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Big hugs, Jazz. These dearest friends of ours tear our hearts out, don’t they?

Good dog, Max. Good dog.

tree hugging sister on May 6, 2014 at 11:21 AM


An incredibly touching story. You did a marvelous thing for Max. I Had to lock the office door there for a few minutes. Wouldn’t do for the staff to see the Office Hothead crying like a baby.

It makes me think of my 11 year old son and his 5 year old fox terrier Alex that we rescued. That dog worships the ground Andrew walks on. I never want him to feel the pain of losing a friend like that. He needs to live forever.

USNCVN on May 6, 2014 at 11:26 AM

lost my friend, Kona, in January. This story is very familiar–sudden increase in drinking water was the first sign.

My wife and I lost our beloved “Maddy” in December. It’s really like losing one of the family because they DO become part of the family. Maddy started experiencing the same symptoms you describe. During one bout we took her to Vet who really couldn’t do anything. The vet recommended letting her stay the night at the clinic but I had a premonition and said, no, I wanted her to spend the night at home. I didn’t want her to die alone in a cage. That would have killed my wife who just loved that dog. As it was Maddy spent her last night at home, literally in the arms of those who she loved and loved her. It hurt a lot but I will be forever grateful for the decision God put in my heart to bring Maddy home that afternoon. I absolutely believe that having a loyal dog is one of the only instances of pure, 100%, unconditional love we experience in life. Dogs have no agenda or ulterior motives, they just love you.

tommyboy on May 6, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Warm words for a dog you so obviously loved when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. Take heart. It’s okay to cry for Max. I’m crying a bit myself.

MAzingrace on May 6, 2014 at 11:34 AM

I’m so sorry. I know how you feel. I just had to put down my little buddy cat myself. He too was somewhat stunted early in life and just found me when he and I both needed it. Never sat on my lap, never played with a toy. He had a good, great life, though, just like your dog.

The guilt and anxiety nearly did me in for the first week. But you did the best you could, and all those years of love cancel out any “mistake” you may have made. I’m so glad you got a chance to say goodbye.

Time heals. You will soon start remembering all the things you did right. He will always remember.

PattyJ on May 6, 2014 at 11:35 AM

NObody would have or could have done any better. You are a damn good man, Jazz.

PaCadle on May 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

We have taken several stray cats over the years. some of them do really well and adapt to the household routine. But you have some that just can’t get over the rough life they have led no matter what. You do the best you can, the quality of life they have had with you is way better than without you. Feel guitly for nothing. We all ask the same questions when the end comes. Max knew love in his life and he accepted on his terms. Thanks for the story and god bless.

warmairfan on May 6, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Jazz, your humanity is truly remarkable and touching. Don’t be so hard on yourself–you gave him the best life the little guy could have had, and showed him what it meant to be loved when he never had any hope of finding out.

When we lost our beloved bloodhound several months ago we were all devastated, including our sweet St. Bernard. Walker and Abby had been together for seven years starting as puppies. Abby withdrew after Walker was gone so we knew we needed to find her a friend. We ended up at a St. Bernard rescue and we found–Max, a 10-11 year old sweet St. Bernard. Max had been severely abused, weighed only about 85 lbs, and was frightened of his own shadow. But his sweetness shined through

Long story short, four months later Max warmed up to our family, now weighs 125 lbs. (normal for his breed and size), and for the first time in his life knows love. We know we will not have him long as he is living on borrowed time (giant breeds average about 8 year lifespans). But he will know unconditional love until the day he dies.

God speed, Jazz. And know you did a wonderful deed.

NOMOBO on May 6, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Jazz, I hope this was a good catharsis for you. It was for me.
I’ve been pretty stressed out and that cry I just had was helpful.
I agree with the sentiments posted here and wish you peace.

I will leave you with a funny that comes to mind when I’m missing my diabetic cat…same story..two shots a day, incontinent…he only liked me, and sometimes I wasn’t even sure of that. anywhooo,

The first time my very large Mainecoon met my husband, he walked into the kitchen took a long look at him and proceeded to turn around at his feet and purposely take a very large stinky dump…

MontanaMmmm on May 6, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Very dusty in my office right now. This hits WAY too close to home. I’m taking Henri in for his last vet visit in a few hours. 16 years is a good life for a cat, he will be missed. Telling your daughter away at college that her cat will not be home when she gets back is not an enjoyable phone call.

Very sorry for your loss, I know how you feel. A previous cat, Lucy, was rescued from a ditch by our son. She never really overcame her feral nature and most who petted her found out that it was “two scratches and then i’ll bite your hand off”. But i cried when i took her to the vet also.

cryptoref on May 6, 2014 at 11:50 AM

I would also say to those people whose vets wouldn’t allow them to be present:


Any vet so unsympathetic to the needs of a dying pet is a disgrace to the profession.

Maddie on May 6, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Maddie, I understand how you can yell and scream.

However, I didn’t stay with my vet. I gave him the best that money can buy. My dog got SARD and became blind in 1 day. I took him to the University of Florida Veterinary School of Medicine, one of the top schools in the country.

SARD is lies by omission. The cancer fighting agents misidentify healthy cells as cancer and your animal doesn’t just go blind but gets one disease after another. The vets don’t tell you that.

The tragedy for me was Francesco was never without me for a moment. How he could leave this life without me was a crime.

I took him everywhere. If he wasn’t allowed in a place I didn’t go. Francesco was known all over Italy. Hell, I made dinner reservations in his name. People remembered me because of Francesco. The guys at Sabatini’s in Roma, the Hotel Monaco in Venice and many Florentine restaurants wanted to steal him from me. It was because of Francesco that I have a successful business. He built it. And his picture is all over the internet of people’s Tuscan travels.

I went to purchase his sister and she made me take Francesco home too.
https:[email protected]/11541000155/

Jayrae on May 6, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Jazz — I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s always so hard to say goodbye. It sounds like you gave little Max a very happy life. We too have a puppy mill survivor (an Aussie). She had never walked on grass, and had no idea what to do with stairs either! We’ve had her for three years now, and she still has a unique way of going up / down stairs. She does this funny bunny-hop thing with her back legs and walks on the front ones. We had her for months before she barked, and she scared herself when she did! So many characteristics you mentioned certainly describe our Bonnie. It takes a lot of love and patience to deal with a dog who has been so damaged. Max was very lucky to have you.

Lan Astaslem on May 6, 2014 at 11:54 AM

bye doge

Murphy9 on May 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Understand that dogs born in puppy mills are merchandise. They are sold as domestic companions. They are anything but. Max was born there and learned how to survive there. They first person to touch him was probably an animal control officer during the raid. You saved him but you could never make him a normal dog. You did the best you could by him. You were kind and he knew that, but it is not possible to fix this kind of damage.
As someone who has been there done that, I would like to give you some tips because you will one day save another one. Unless a puppy is allowed to bond and be touched by humans as they wean, there is a disconnect and a bond that can never be completely formed. In cats this is considered feral. Dogs like this are usually food aggressive. They protect things and people. They covet. They don’t play. They bite. They fear. They can be dangerous and unpredictable especially around children. A dog like this should never be allowed on the furniture or carried around. It elevates their stature in their mind but their mind is not normal. The best thing to do is lead them with a leash. They need a leader. They need boundaries. They need a den. This is a safe place. It could be a crate or a dog bed but it must be on the floor never at eye level with a humans. Surprisingly, they are usually not dog aggressive, as you found out because you already had your Bassett. Often when the older dog goes they seem very lost. Sadly, he learned how to be a dog in a home environment from him. He depended on Mr. Bassett too show him how to survive in a home but as you said, he never really lived and enjoyed his life as a dog should because Max had scars left by the cruelty that breeds in puppy mills.
Find comfort in believing that Mr. Bassett has introduced him to Kenya and they are all waiting to see you again when it is your time to join them.

Trucorgi on May 6, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Heaven is where all the pets you’ve loved come running to greet you.

butch on May 6, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Hope Jazz is up to reading the comments and seeing the support. not sure I would be strong enough too.

one thing you never wonder about dogs, are they waiting to eat you?

dmacleo on May 6, 2014 at 12:06 PM

They are better than most people.

Max doesn’t want you to beat yourself up, Jazz.

He’s at the bridge, with his girlfriend.

Schadenfreude on May 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

RIP Max.

And my respect to you, Jazz, for having mercy on a downtrodden dog. There is an eternal reward for the compassionate.

dreadnought62 on May 6, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Jazz, I felt guilty being there with my beloved Bama when her time was up and I had to put her down, like I had betrayed her trust and that she somehow knew it was my final decision when I finally gathered enough courage to call the vet tech into the room and put her down. She trusted me, felt safest with me, and yet it was me that made the decision when and where she would die. I even had a steak I had cooked for her last meal, but afterwards it seemed like bait that I had used to lure her to her death. That drive home I was overcome with a sense of guilt even though she could no longer walk and it was quite obvious she could no longer have a good life here. There is just no good or right way to have a best friend put to sleep.

stout77 on May 6, 2014 at 12:17 PM

It was very loving and extremely honorable what you did for Max by saving him and giving him a chance at a quality life. God Bless You and I pray you will find solace.

Opposite Day on May 6, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Jazz –

I’m sitting in my office, door closed, bawling my eyes out as quietly as I can. Oh, hell. A grown man sobbing.

My best buddy is 14 years old. He was a pound puppy like Max. He came before the wife and the kid and just about everything else. Every morning I walk him and usually every night, sometimes taking along his 11 year old sister.

I live in dread of facing what you’ve gone through. I’ve never had to face it and I’m not sure I can. I’ve deployed to Iraq, I was an active duty Marine, I’m a practicing litigator. I do tough stuff for fun. And I am too cowardly to face this.

Oh, hell.

Jazz, You’re a good man. A great man. To care that much. And to do all you did for Max.

You’ll see him again. People who think dogs have no soul are wrong. Stupid wrong. If there’s a Heaven with no Max then I don’t wanna go.

There is something so special about pound dogs. You save them, in every sense of the word. And then they save you right back.

I have no words that make sense, just tears. For you, and for Max, and for future me and my buddy Jake. I’m so very glad you wrote this and so very, very sorry for your loss.

Oh, hell.

You gave Max so many good years. I don’t know you but I’m proud of you.

Thank you and bless you. People like you are why I always have hope.

God bless Max. He’s in a better place. I really believe it.

I’m gonna go put on my dark sunglasses and go for a walk somewhere, and think about you and Max and my buddy Jake.

Be at peace.

Professor Blather on May 6, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve got a girl who’s 13 years old, every day I still have her feels like borrowed time. It sounds like y’all gave Little Dog the best possible life after years of abuse. He might not have been playful and affectionate, but he obviously loved you and your wife the best way he could. I’m sorry for your loss.

metrygirl on May 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

On behalf of Max, I thank you for giving him a great life.

GEAH on May 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Heaven is where all the pets you’ve loved come running to greet you.
butch on May 6, 2014 at 12:05 PM

What a wonderful thought. My Maddy used to meet me at the door every night when I got home from work barking and happy as if she hadn’t seen me for months. She recognized the sound of my car and would run to the door as soon as I pulled into the driveway. No matter how bad a day you’ve had or how down you feel, having someone that excited to greet you at the door just because they love you makes you feel that much better.

tommyboy on May 6, 2014 at 1:06 PM

I’m very sorry for your loss, and for the grief you are going through.

Your worry about Max having to go through the end without you is not quite realistic. First, your wife was with him. Second, he didn’t know he was going to die. He thought he would be coming back home, as always. Your grief has, understandably, manufactured a scenario of abandonment that didn’t exist. He never for a minute felt abandoned. Not for a minute.

Our cat had to be put down due to a terrible, horribly painful condition called saddle thrombosis which ultimately paralyzed his hindquarters. This was preceded by a couple of months of heart ailment, then terrible pain in his paw, and so on, and nothing could stop this process. Specialists were on his case, too.

We were there at the end, and I can tell you it was a very peaceful process, and as far as he knew, it was just more doctors trying to help him, and then sudden sleep. I told my vet that I felt terrible. Why, he asked. I killed him, I said. You didn’t kill him, you helped him.

Our grief was acute for quite a while after. So is yours. Take comfort from what my vet said, and release yourself from the idea that he was alone in his darkest hour. He had no idea it was his darkest hour, and he was consoled by the love of you and your wife, which he relied on, and which was always there. You were there for him at the end. He knew it. It’s just you who now needs to know it.

You are better for having had this wonderful dog in your life, and he for having you, and that love can never die. My condolences on the heartache you are going through.

Alana on May 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Lots of great posts on this thread and thanks for sharing Jazz. I keep coming back for more. Made my day.

HonestLib on May 6, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Jazz –

Damn it! You made me cry twice! Once when I read your post over cornflakes this morning and again now!

We’re very sorry for your loss, sir. And thankful to have followed the adventures of you and Max. Our condolences to your loving and lovely wife and you as well.

Peace, Jazz

CiLH1 on May 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

This is the first time I’ve made a comment here for a long time but this post touched me deeply. My Airedale, Maggie, died in my car last month on the way to the vet emergency room after a freakish accident did something to her to cause internal bleeding. She was a beautiful and wonderful companion and I just can’t get over her passing because it happened so suddenly. I’ve had other dogs, like Max, who died after illnesses to give me time to prepare myself emotionally but this was just a two hour window from a perfectly healthy (unless she was inwardly suffering unbeknownst to me) dog to just being gone.

That dogs provide such wonderful pleasures to life makes their short life spans harder to take. I had told myself a couple months ago that Maggie wouldn’t be around forever (she was 9 and a half) and, even though I counted on at least a couple more years, I started paying closer attention to everything my wife and I did with her. I’d give almost anything to have her for one more day.

Captain Hate on May 6, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Terribly sorry for your loss.

Our little guy, an Italian Greyhound named Oreo, was fading fast at Christmas time. I thought for sure he wouldn’t make it through the holiday. He had pretty much stopped eating (not even people roast beef or peanut butter) and had wasted away to six pounds from his normal super-svelte nine.

The vet didn’t know what was wrong. His glands were all very swollen and he had loose stool. Lymphoma was the unofficial diagnosis and we were preparing for the worst. On a hunch, the vet prescribed some Prednisone to see if it would at least help his appetite. That did the trick!

The thought is now that he has some self-immune issue and the Pred is keeping it at bay. Of course, that will eventually make him diabetic but the alternative is worse. . .

Oreo, too, has had a tough life. Product of a puppy mill out of North Dakota and in a New Hampshire pet store cage for at least 6 months (our young daughter would go visit him weekly for that long), he became a Christmas pup for her in 2001.

He had what turned out to be an upside down bladder and that led him to urinate everywhere without warning; including on my lap one evening. That little malady cost about $3,500 to diagnose and treat. A bit later in life he developed seizures and is still on meds to this day for them. In the last year or so, he’s developed cataracts and now seems like he can barely see. And he was never able to be fully socialized, barking at everything that moves, save for us.

Still, he’s very much a love pup – always on a lap looking for that inner-thigh scratch/rub he so craves. He’s the best pet I’ve ever had and I was strictly a cat person before him. Guess that’s the best compliment you can give a pet; he’s made me love his species. :)

I heard somewhere that pets are just angels on loan from heaven. I know my little Oreo will be going sooner than later and my heart dreads that day.

I’m so sorry the day came for you and Max. :(

I hope you take solace in knowing you did what you could for him to make his life better. In the end, that’s all we can do for anyone or anything.

Best wishes. . .

RedNewEnglander on May 6, 2014 at 1:39 PM


Very touching story. Max was very lucky to find your family and I guess you were equally blessed.

I have two yappers who also are protective (small breed complex I guess). I cherish each day I spend with them knowing that eventually their parting will cause great pain and loss.

Thank you for sharing the life of Max

stevo on May 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Jazz, thank you so much for sharing this. I know this won’t make much difference, but you in no way failed Max – on the contrary, you gave him life he never would have had. Even if he never learned to play, he certainly learned to love you and your wife, and that was his joy. Please please try to stop beating yourself up. None of us have a crystal ball to know how medical issues will turn out – whether it’s for a pet or a loved human companion or even ourselves. All we can do is keep trying so long as the doctors tell us there is a reasonable chance for the condition to be controlled or overcome for some time – and that’s EXACTLY what you did. You did the best possible for Max, all the way around, starting from the day your folks took him in to his last day where you KNEW it was time to let him go, and you did so in the most humane way possible rather than delaying. And that’s all anyone can possibly do. Max was lucky to have had you and your family, and it’s clear that you loved and cared for him, no matter how difficult he could be and what his problems were. Any pet would be lucky to have you, and I hope before long you can see your way to taking in another who badly needs a good home too. They’ll be every bit as blessed as Max and Mr. Basset were.

Rational Db8 on May 6, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Jazz, I could barely finish reading your story through my tears. Deepest condolences to you and your wife. You gave Max a beautiful, loving life when he would have faced certain death if you hadn’t come along.

I thank God for every precious day I have with my sweet little chihuahua. She has a chronic eye issue that requires drops throughout the day but so far it hasn’t affected her sight (she’s only two years old). We have a wonderful eye specialist, worth every penny.

ncinca on May 6, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Jazz, thank you for sharing the story of Max. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Most people would have gone downstairs and adopted the mixed breed mutt, the easier road, and Max would have lived his terrible life and gone to a quick, lonely death. You and your wife showed Max love and respect, you gave him a life fit for a king. No matter if you were with him at the end, putting a pet to sleep is never easy and you will always have a bit of guilt, doesn’t matter if it was for the best. You gave Max the best life a little dog could have and for that, you have earned my utmost respect and admiration, Mr. Shaw,

TinFin on May 6, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Oh, Jazz…….. what a story.

You did not fail Max for a second! You took him, when likely no one else ever would. You gave him love for years, cared for him, stood up for him when others didn’t want to be around him…. Difficult to imagine anyone else doing 10% as much for Max.

You had some bad luck at the end – and ultimately, I think you chose correctly, not wrongly.

Please feel free to experience your grief from the loss of Max, but not at all from your own actions. Poor Max was dealt a pretty bad hand in life. You, however, improved it more than anyone else would have or could have done.

And as an aside – if you wish to feel the depths of guilt and agony with a pet, then please read about my experience. I’m not sure how, but ultimately, I did survive my horrific accident to my beloved pet.

pbundy on May 6, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Condolences on the loss of a loved one.

RebeccaH on May 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

I’m very sorry for your loss.

Please don’t beat yourself up. It sounds like you were a very loving and responsible pet owner, you saw to it that he got years of love, and made sure he had good medical care.

Goodbye, Max.

TigerPaw on May 6, 2014 at 2:53 PM

You did the best you could. It would not matter what you changed had you the power to go back in time, you would still find something to regret. I think it a very natural response to such a passage.

My deepest sympathies to you and your wife in this time of painful loss.

bigbeachbird on May 6, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Send this round

Murphy9 on May 6, 2014 at 3:00 PM

So sorry for your loss. Your family is in my prayers. Rest in Peace Max.

Jack_Burton on May 6, 2014 at 3:37 PM

My oldest dog, a Shiba Inu who turned 14 in March, has some of the symptoms you cite – he drinks a lot (and has been known to bang the dog dishes around in the middle of the night if he empties the water bowl), pees a lot (sometimes in the house now, especially if I am gone for more than a couple of hours), rapidly went blind in the last couple of months (although the vet said a year ago that his eyes were showing signs that he was already losing his sight then). Some days are worse than others (Friday was bad – he couldn’t keep anything in his stomach) and he has obviously lost a lot of weight. I told my best friend Saturday that I think it will be time in the next couple of weeks, but it is hard. I went by the vet a couple of weeks ago to discuss it with them, and I bawled like a baby just talking about it. I have had him since the Friday before Memorial Day 2000, when he was 8 weeks old. Even though he didn’t go through what Max did, he is definitely a one-person dog. He tolerated my mom when she was here in September when I had surgery, he tolerates my best friends (who have their own pain-in-the-butt dog so they can deal with him), loves my 6-year-old Sheltie (the only female dog, whom I also got when she was 8 weeks old), barely tolerates my 3-year-old Lab/Chow mix (I think it’s a male territorial thing), absolutely will not tolerate anyone else (has to be closed up in the bedroom when someone is in the house) but will defend me to the death. He is my Baby (and yes, that is what I call him) and I don’t know what I will do without him.

Alia on May 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

We did all that could be done. – Ronald Reagan

Jazz, you are a hero for taking in Max and caring for him.

More Reagan:

Those who say that we’re in a time when there are not heroes, they just don’t know where to look


JQA on May 6, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Thank you for letting me share this with you, and I apologize for it being far too lengthy and depressing. But I needed to say goodbye to Max, and that we will always love you.

Dear Jazz,
You opened a floodgate of sharing, and while much of it partook of sadness, none of it was depressing.
Indeed, you honored us as friends, by allowing us to say goodbye with you.
Each story told here is a memorial to Max, and a tribute to the love you gave and received.
Condolences on your loss,

AesopFan on May 6, 2014 at 4:30 PM

I couldn’t bring myself to open this until now, but I read every comment and I thank you all. We will get a new dog because there is room in our home. But we need a couple of months to heal.

Jazz Shaw on May 6, 2014 at 4:43 PM

I’m so sorry to hear of your little guy’s passing. I’ve had two pets that followed the same trajectory and know the utter desolation you’re feeling. It won’t take the pain away, but know that you did everything a good “dad” does. He’s waiting for you at the rainbow bridge, and you’ll see him again whole and happy.

palmettobug on May 6, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Sorry for your loss Jazz Shaw..

Dire Straits on May 6, 2014 at 5:11 PM

But with anyone else he was unpredictable and unpleasant. Over the coming years he actually bit more than a dozen people…

He’s biting God now.

Moron Labe on May 6, 2014 at 5:36 PM


Thank you so much for giving Max an amazing life. You took in a “special needs” dog and gave him the very best of everything. I know you loved him – it shows in your photos. I laughed at your photo of Max in his Santa hat. I have a picture of every one of my dogs in their Santa hat. Every. Single. One. That little boy of yours won the doggie lottery, and I KNOW he knew how special he was to you. And YOU were the light of his life, too.

I too know what it’s like to open my heart and home to “special needs” dogs like Max. My dogs are always rescues and they are always my forever dogs. I have two in my home now, and one of them is a “special needs” Katrina rescue. Some of my special needs dogs never got over the damage they endured. And others finally moved on and accepted their new life with wild abandon. I’m happy to say that Bear, my Katrina rescue has finally – FINALLY – moved on and is enjoying his life with wild abandon. But, all too often, they don’t ever get over things. In that regard, they are much like humans.

Every single dog I have ever had, I’ve tried to be there for them in their passing. One of my old gals that passed about 3 years ago, died in our backyard one afternoon, and that’s the only one I hadn’t been there for. We let her out one beautiful summer afternoon, and she slowly padded out as she always did later in life, and died a couple of minutes later in the shade of a big tree in the yard. I felt bad about it, because I feel it is my duty to give them that love, dignity and respect when their time comes. But, I believe she chose the time and place for herself. And she knew how much we adored her. I truly look forward to the time when I will see her, and all my dogs once again. I know in my heart that will be so and it will be the happiest day EVER.

Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I’m so sorry for your loss. And I know that when you are ready, and you get a new little guy or gal, that dog will fill your heart and home with the joy and happiness that only a dog can provide.

littlekittie on May 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Max knew you loved him. They always know. As hard as his life was, he was blessed with your loving family to spend the remainder of his life with and you all were lucky to have had Max in your home. I am sorry for your loss. We were devastated when we had to put our Boston Terrier to sleep and it was a long time before we were able to get another dog to love. You can never replace a loved pet, but you do manage to find another place in your heart for a new one.

katieanne on May 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

“He’s biting God now.

Moron Labe on May 6, 2014 at 5:36 PM”

That’s great. A smile always helps.

katieanne on May 6, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Jazz u did all you could do at the time.. 20/20 is pointless.. Max is in a much better place now.. waiting for you to open up that door & bump his nose when you reach him in the afterlife.

Intrepid767 on May 6, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Max made the most of the hand he was dealt and made a true friend. Most humans don’t accomplish that.
Thanks for sharing his story.

wbtsguy on May 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

As I sit here crying, I just have to write. Jazz, Max’s life is almost a carbon copy of my little rescue Schnauzer’s (albeit without the issues), Zackary. We got Zak when he followed my friend’s husband out of the woods where that sainted man was jogging. When I met him I couldn’t even tell what kind of dog he was, but I knew we had to save him when he crawled into my lap and went to sleep. So, I convinced my parents they needed a dog since I had moved out of the house already and I went and got him after he had a vet appointment and the groomer came to call. Turns out he was a miniature Schnauzer who had been left in the woods of a park, a notorious dumping ground for puppy mill dogs that are unwanted. Wherever he was from screwed up docking his ears so he looked like Tramp from Lady and the Tramp and they docked his tail so short they just missed severing his spinal cord.

He had 12 really good years with our family but when my father passed, Zak started going downhill. He was my father’s dog, you see, and he missed Dad terribly. He would sleep on my Dad’s chest and his buddy was gone. Mom and I tried to keep his spirits up but eventually I think the loss of my father took its toll.

We spent thousands on an operation to remove a cancerous adrenal gland and found out in the process that his liver wasn’t processing the blood because of a shunt from the hepatic artery. That was closed off and the liver began to function, but after the surgery he was never the same. I had to teach him how to eat and drink again and he lost the ability to talk (he used to be so vocal), the ability to smell (devastating for a dog) and his eyesight was bad. When he went it happened so fast. He started having seizures and was so dizzy he was throwing up and I could not face putting him through more medication or procedures with a 50/50 chance of working. I had bought him another year (and not the best year for him) and when he went I felt so guilty for every time I got impatient with him and for having him put to sleep.

I know how you feel. God bless you for saving those little furry friends.

ClownsToTheLeftOfMe on May 6, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Max got to feel a whole lot of love. You are a gift to him.

balkanmom on May 6, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Zak also started drinking water excessively but no one found the diabetes. Poor lamb.

ClownsToTheLeftOfMe on May 6, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Jazz, I’m sorry you’ve lost a friend, you and your wife were a blessing to Max, as he loved you back in his own way. I’m wiping the tears as I write, the pain we feel when we lose our pet friends is so unbearable because they gave us their trust and love and we loved them. They made us better human beings for it. I hope your pain will pass into loving remembrances of Max.

Bakokitty on May 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

I had a miniature schnauzer when I was a kid, and she was very territorial, and didn’t like anybody besides the immediate family too. I lost her when she had a stroke while I was away at college, I never got to say goodbye to her either. You gave that puppy a great life, don’t be too hard on yourself.

burserker on May 6, 2014 at 7:29 PM

My first dog, which we got when I was 6, was a miniature schnauzer. We got him as a puppy, but he was also fiercely protective of us and the house, particularly when any men came around that he didn’t know. He would eventually warm up to most people if you knew how to handle yourself around him. He was a great dog though. Like Max, he had some health problems. He developed a (benign) tumor on the top of his head, and eventually developed diabetes that was too much for insulin shots to treat. He died when I was in high school, 3 months before his 10th birthday. I remember one of his last nights, I was sleeping on the couch in the living room with him on his bed on the ground next to me so we’d be near the back door and I could carry him out when he had trouble walking and needed to go frequently. He was a very good dog, and reading about Max brought back memories of him.

A little over a year later we got a poodle, who lives with my parents, who has similarly been a great dog. He’s nearing 16 now though, and it’s sad to see him deteriorate. He’s generally healthy, but the body is wearing down and he has trouble with his legs as he loses muscle. The day is coming when he’ll simply not wake up in the morning, and it’ll be hard.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go deal with my allergies by giving my own dog, a 3.5 y/o mix of about 5 different breeds, a hug.

datroy on May 6, 2014 at 8:27 PM

When my mother died, my wife and I took her two schnauzers. For the next 7 years they were the most unbelievable animals I have ever seen. We had a houseful of cats, and we worried what would happen when we brought them in. But the cats loved them, particularly a ferel cat we had adopted who became their caregiver as they got old and infirm. It was a miraculous thing to watch. They’ve been dead for a couple of years now, but my heart still ache for them every day.

senor on May 6, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Don’t beat yourself up Jazz, You did all that you could do for him. Max was very, very lucky to have you and your family.

V7_Sport on May 6, 2014 at 9:29 PM

What was it Mark Twain wrote?…”When you die you get into heaven and the dog waits outside. If it went on merit the dog would go in and you would wait outside.”

You were there for Max his whole life. It’s only natural to feel you failed him because you weren’t there that one time. You didn’t. That’s life. There are very few areas of it we live with no regrets.

bluesdoc70 on May 6, 2014 at 10:47 PM

Aw, now you got me going all weepy.

We lost our last dog back in February. He was a Pekinese named Valentino, he was supposed to be our last dog but not so soon. He had only turned 7. We got him from my grandneice after a problem between her firstborn and Tino. The kid is a moose and played much to rough for a small dog. So he got bit. They panicked and decided that they had to get rid of Tino. They couldn’t find anyone they considered reliable and so he flew up to us in Oregon.

We had had a dog from 1984 until 1999 and adopted a Peke in 2007. The old Peke Fluffy was already 8 when we got him.

So we figured that Tino would be perfect. He was only 5 and would last for several years after Fluffy passed. Which he did in 2012 from Congestive Heart Failure.

But last Sept Tino started screaming. I thought he had got his leg caught on something and ran to see what the problem was. He was just laying on the sofa screaming. So we rushed him to the doggie ER. The ER doc checked him and took an xray. It showed that his heart was huge. The Dr wasn’t sure what caused that or how to treat it but she gave him some meds for CHF and it helped his breathing.

She told us that his heart was going to continue to enlarge and that he would suffocate. She advised that we put him to sleep.

We couldn’t handle that and took him home intending to bring him back if he started having too much discomfort. But the CHF meds seemed to turn him back into his old self.

Our regular vet checked him, prescribed the CHF meds and referred us to the Vet school which is not far away.

They told us that it was called dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a fancy word for enlarged heart.

They told us that there was nothing they could do and that the meds would work until they didn’t.

That is what happened in February. We let everyone know and had a goodbye of sorts and took him on his last ride.

I was getting over it (he was my walking partner)and now you got me weepy again. I guess it never really goes away.

schmuck281 on May 6, 2014 at 11:33 PM

Max was a lucky guy…he finally knew love. Try not to feel guilty! Jazz; you took good care of him, and you saved him. Max had love in his life. That’s very lucky. A lot of dogs don’t get half the love Max got from you and hour wife, throuh his neurosis, his health needs and his wierdnesses, you gave him devotion. Having been through similar circumstances as you, I just wanted ro say THANKS, for sharing your story about Max. And I think he was a very lucky boy!

mountainaires on May 7, 2014 at 6:59 AM

I believe that every tragedy has a silver lining. You may not notice it. But if you look, you’ll find it every time.

Max could have been put down at the shelter, but instead Max had the best years anyone could have ever given him. And although Max couldn’t show his emotions like other dogs, he was loved, cared for, and comfortable for the rest of his life.

That was his silver lining.

It’s hard to know when it’s finally time to put an animal down and when it happens it can be an emotional crisis. For normal people, pets are an integral part of the family–even a full fledged member.

But there too is a silver lining if you look for it.

There will never be another Max, but there is an opportunity now to save another deserving animal. Max died so another animal could be saved.

That’s a silver lining in my book.

BMF on May 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM

You loved Max and tried your best. That was why he loved and trusted you. What a gift to both of you in our imperfect world.

wheeitsme on May 7, 2014 at 11:48 AM

I am very sorry for your loss. I lost my buddy Buster almost a year ago and am still grieving. It’s tough as hell. Please know that I feel your loss as if it were my own. I pray every day that I get through this soon, and I will hope that you get through it, and your heart heals sooner rather than later.

Harry in Georgia on May 7, 2014 at 1:10 PM

I’m so sorry for your loss, Jazz. They’re never really “pets” are they? But don’t be too hard on yourself; you gave Max a good chance at a second life and things turned out pretty well under the circumstances. In his own way, I’m sure he felt loved. Your kindness and generosity can’t have gone unnoticed.

We had to put down our corgi about three years ago after she developed a degenerative neurological disease. I still think about her. Some days, when I get up in the morning, the first thought on my mind is, “I need to go let Ginger out”. Or I get ice from the fridge and expect her to be there wanting an ice cube to chew. Or many other things like that. It does get better with time, and I picture her now running around a yard somewhere trying to herd a bunch of kids into a group.

D*mn, it sure is dusty in here.

lovesthesun on May 7, 2014 at 2:03 PM

I’m so sorry, Jazz. I know you loved the little guy. We lost a 14 year old lab/boxer in 2011 that had grown up in the Sigma Chi frat house at Colorado State. I thought I would die (and pretty much hoped I would). She was a character and just the best.

Now we have a mill rescue Yorkie who got a uterine infection after who knows how many litters and was going to be shot. She had never had a toy, never been in grass, never been for walk on a leash, never had a treat, never been held or loved, and essentially, never had the chance to be a dog and do all the cool things dogs do. Her feet ached from having always walked on a wire bottomed cage. Today, she’s doing great and is a just a riot. We love her. It’ going to take some time. Sorry.

NoPain on May 7, 2014 at 2:53 PM


Thanks for sharing Jazz Shaw.

Texyank on May 7, 2014 at 11:07 PM

Thanks for sharing. It hits close to home on a number of levels. You did the best you could. Rest well, Max

quikstrike98 on May 8, 2014 at 2:08 AM

We currently have three rescue dogs. We have been married long enough to have lost six dogs to old age/disease. It NEVER gets any easier. However, I wouldn’t deny a dog a good home just to avoid the pain of seeing them go.

You made a huge difference to one animal. You can, and should, do it again for another. Go to the pound and have a new friend choose you ASAP — you can ease each other’s suffering starting today.

Armed Texan on May 8, 2014 at 9:29 AM