Vale Maxie

Last Tuesday, as always, Maxie eased himself out of the warmth of his dog bed, and stretched his creaking joints slowly with a few steps as he confirmed that the gift of walking was his for yet another great day.  All of Max’s days were great.  He stopped in the kitchen doorway where he knew I would pick him up for his first cuddle of the day.  I did so.  Our respective days were going to plan.

I scooped him into my arms where he relaxed on his back waiting for me to lift him up a little further so he was in range to give my ear a quick lick.

Then without warning or sound, deep within the delicate and intricate mysteries of Maxie’s brain, as I held him in my arms there was a silent but catastrophic event which caused him to move his body and legs involuntarily and to arch back with a momentary unseeing look in his eyes.  Then as suddenly as they began the violent movements stopped and he just lay quietly looking up at me as I held him tightly to me.  I placed him gently on his feet on the floor to see whether hope against hope it was a temporary fit of some sort which would not disable or kill him.

His back legs barely functioned, his balance was clearly affected, he stumbled a few steps and stopped bewildered and just looked up at me.  For nearly 15 years I have been able to make it right when he came to me and stood at my feet looking up with entreating eyes because he was unwell, or had something stuck in his mouth, or had hurt his foot, or was just out of sorts and needed a cuddle.  I gently picked him up again.  But I sensed that I might not be able to make it right this time.

Lizzie was with us by this stage.  After hearing what had just happened and seeing him try to stand and walk, with a teary calmness she said, “I think his time has come.” Maxie’s lifelong vet wouldn’t be open for business for another hour.  Max spent that hour in our arms, calm but sadly quiet and still.  He was not in pain.  We were.

Liz’s diagnosis was confirmed by the vet and our Maxie’s life ended quickly, quietly and painlessly in the surgery with Liz right beside him.

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Max on day 1 at his new home, just under 15 years ago.  He was our daughters’ choice from a play pen full of puppies.
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Minnie, a little mate for Max, being welcomed to her new home.
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Bonding. Maxie was obviously top dog at this time.  But Minnie, the little tart, grew into a bossy and punchy little dog who ruled the roost and had the last say on all things dog.  Maxie was such a gentle and uncomplaining pushover for her.
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Max in his prime on Apollo Bay beach.
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Max found adventures at every turn on the beach.
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A swim for Max involved only his lower legs getting wet.  But he loved the sand and the dunes and dead marine life.
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Max always had staff, who on those very hot days in Apollo Bay, would provide cooling in various forms.  This was a favourite activity on such days.
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We have never had an ‘outside’ dog.  Max (and Minnie and Doug)  lived in luxury that would be the envy of royalty.  Prince Max in repose.
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A beautiful face.
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Maxie asleep on my chest after a big day at Apollo Bay.
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The table top of the outdoor setting was a spot in the morning sun which Max found to be quite satisfactory.  Not a doona or a down pillow, but a dog has to get out in the wild and rough it once in a while.
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I would like to say that this photos demonstrates the high degree of training of our three pugaliers, who would respond promptly and obediently to the command, “look up and slightly to your right of camera”.  But in fact, just on my left when this was taken, food was on offer.  The pose captured was an involuntary response.
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This low shutter speed shot confirms that Doug’s head moves up fastest when food is present at a height above dog eye level.
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Minnie and Max at rest on a warm and soft surface of their choosing.  Taken during the years before Doug (the rescue pug cross) arrived.
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Max on the left and Doug, doing formation sleeping.  Most of their waking hours were spent asleep.
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Max captured midway between sleep and wakefulness.  I don’t remember, but I am confident that after he was slightly disturbed by this photo being taken, he would have returned to sleep.
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Doug on the left, and Max.  They loved a sweet corn cob after humans had finished with it. Their dental configuration (until the onset of old age) was ideally suited to nibbling off any leftover corn as Lizzie would slowly rotate the cobs to ensure a complete and clean job was done.
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An old leather armchair can be so uncomfortable without a cushion.  Fair enough.  More deep sleeping.
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Even though positioned over the heater vent, this was obviously a three dog night.  The cat seems to be concerned about something and is obviously having trouble going to sleep.
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Max does not know what a kennel, or a hessian dog rug is.  He lived his life in a world of sheepskin rugs, fine linen, luxurious doonas and down pillows.  As illustrated in this photo, sometimes different parts of his body would require different sleeping surfaces of this quality at the one time.
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In his latter years, Maxie’s little legs became more arthritic and more bent and bowed. A walk beyond 100m or so was eventually beyond him.  But with a short rest in between such walks, he could do a few multiples of the 100m walk.  Hence the pusher, purchased for $20 from an op-shop, to give him a spell when he needed it on a walk.  Minnie and Doug would go on ahead under their own steam, and would be joined by Max again when he had recovered sufficiently to give the walking thing another crack.  Even into old age he loved a nature strip, power poles, fences and all the other prime sites a dog comes across on a walk that enable him to make detailed and apparently very interesting deductions about the earlier presence of  other dogs.


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Maxie revelling in the great outdoors, from the comfort of his safari vehicle.
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Alpha male pug Max on full alert at Apollo Bay, during the golden hour near the end of the day.
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While Max’s body eventually slowed down, his enthusiasm for life never did.  As his age grew, the tooth population in his mouth decreased.  Gums and gaps were the order of the day in Max’s mouth in his later years, thanks to a combination of surgical intervention and natural attrition. This meant that on occasions in his later years, when he gave the command for his tongue to hang out for a good pant, the 12 o’clock position favoured by young fully toothed dogs was not always the most comfortable, and his tongue would often seek out a gummy gap through which to hang out to one side to facilitate proper panting.
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Old Maxie.
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A sunset walk, during one of the brief recovery-in-the-stroller phases.
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Maxie loved life, even when being chauffeured to rest his bent little legs and even as age began to weary him.


Max, you were a real character, and you made our life better.

You only ever had good and kind thoughts.

You loved us unconditionally.

We miss you.





A few comments on the Facebook link to this post:

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12 thoughts on “Vale Maxie

  1. John, what a beautiful and touching tribute to a faithful little friend, who always made my trips to Melbourne just a little lovelier with his gentle and loving nature, his keenness for a lap cuddle and his wet sloppy welcome licks…Maxie made our lives just a little bit nicer…thanks for liking me too Maxie💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment Helen. I do recall his enthusiasm in greeting you, and your animated responses. As for that tongue, it was longer and quicker than most imagined, which meant most of his loving licks found their mark. You were in the group that welcomed Maxie’s affection. He certainly liked you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the beautiful words and photos. As I have often said, dogs make your life better and Maxie certainly did that. We were lucky to have had him for so long, but it is never long enough. Although unbelievably hard to do, I’m so glad that I was able to be with him on his final journey and to look into his beautiful eyes as he gently fell asleep. He was such a lovely boy and I will miss him, but I have him in my heart always.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good old Maxie; he epitomised everything we love about dogs and the expression ‘man’s best friend’. The Apollo Bay armchair won’t be the same without you little mate. What an innings and a lucky life you had ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I remember when we got Max. Georgie and I had already chosen him – we handed him to you and you held him up to your face for a closer inspection. He licked you on the nose and you said, “Ok then.” I loved looking back at these pictures, he was such a beautiful companion. I miss him too. Thanks for sharing this Dad. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Commiserations all.

    A fine piece of writing John, poignant and laden with Maxie humour. And a template for how to care for another sentient being.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So happy I found Maxie and all the special phoos, I will look forward for time to read and enjoy more of his history.


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