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In Memory of Mountain Man Max

February 27, 2013

In Memory of Mountain Man Max

August 10, 1998 – February 27, 2012

Max on 13th bday

We have all had deep sorrows in our lives, lost loves, lost friends and family. No one escapes because death is part of life. I’m sure you have heard “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a,4, KJV)

Many of the deepest sorrows in our lives that happen are completely out of our control, but sometimes we have to make the decision as an act of love. Among these is the decision to let a beloved pet leave this world. Such was this day one year ago for me. I know many people, even some in my own family, don’t understand the depth of loss that can occur when one has loved a dog or cat or another pet so deeply.

Max, or as his registered name was, Sir Mikros Agape Maximus– small one filled with unconditional love to the fullest—was only 5 pounds and a bit, but he lived up to his name completely.

Max upside down 2 15 11

Max came to live with us when he was just 7 weeks old. He should have stayed with his mama for several more weeks, but we didn’t know that then. When we got him, he was the size of that red bull Beanie Baby! He was so little, I could carry him in a fanny pack! The first night we had him, I tried to get him to sleep in the crate next to my bed, but he would have nothing to do with that. He ended up sleeping with me from then on. He was crate trained, and loved to go into it, but he always slept with me at night.

When Max was 9 months old, my younger daughters and I drove to Tulsa, OK to pick up one of my sons from Oral Roberts University and to see my other son off on a mission trip to Israel. A couple of my boys’ friends were heading in the same direction we were, one to California and the other to Oregon. They wanted to travel with us, and since they hadn’t ever driven through mountains, they wanted to go through Colorado instead of down to I-40. We agreed and headed out through Oklahoma, and into Kansas, joined by horrible winds. We finally made it to Dodge City, Kansas and camped at our favorite campground. Max kept looking at us like we were crazy to sleep with sheet walls (the tent)! The next morning, we found out that Oklahoma City and Wichita had been hit with F5 tornadoes the night before. In fact, if we had gone on I-40, we would probably have just been getting back on the freeway after a dinner break when the storms hit. As it was, we left Wichita one hour before the one hit there. The next day we had to stay overnight in a small town in Colorado due to a blizzard! Max never quite liked winds after that, but he still loved to go camping!

In 2000, a group of my friends who were involved in Maltese rescue had a get together in Corning, New York. My youngest daughter and I went, and, of course, Max went along. We flew from Salt Lake City to Philadelphia and spent a few days with my brother, then drove to Corning. Max loved the party as he played with 20 other little white furkids and about 10 other dogs. We spent the night at our hosts’ home, and Max delighted my friend Kay by running up her wooden stairs and down the hardwood floor hall upstairs and back downstairs. Kay’s dogs, who were rescues and older, never went up the stairs. Max loved that trip and all the attention he got. It was there he got his nickname Mountain Man Max.

In August of 2000, I adopted our first Maltese rescue, a former puppy mill mama who was 12 years old. As soon as Max saw Kyra, he was delighted. He loved her from that moment on and was her constant companion and protector. She had seizures, and before a seizure would start, he would run to us and bark a particular bark, which we quickly learned meant Kyra was about to have a seizure. He would run back to her and stay with her till she had recovered. We had Kyra almost 2 years till she went to Rainbow Bridge. It broke all our hearts when she died, including Max. He had taken kibbles to her when she was not feeling well, and a few weeks after her death, he took some kibbies to the bed where she had slept. He was letting us know he missed her, too.

Max and Kyra 12 00

We soon adopted another puppy mill rescue, Libby. She was only a couple years old when she came to us. Max and Libby were best buddies for 7 years.

During that time, my daughters, who were homeschooled, and I participated in a small arts college in Provo, Utah. Max would often go with us and was the love of all the students and staff. The director especially loved him. He was in several plays with us, including Guys and Dolls, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a melodrama the director and her son wrote. She actually added a part just so Max could be in it. He loved acting and even learned what his cues were to go onstage.

He loved to show off. His favorite trick was to dance by standing on his back legs and circling. He was also trained to follow hand signals over verbal commands. This worked well when he was on stage. If the actor said “sit” and Max was supposed to lie down, he would follow the hand signal from the actor instead.

Max and Libby were therapy dogs. I frequently took them to visit the residents where I worked. They loved going to see their friends, and the residents always asked where Max and Libby were.

Max and Libby Christmas 2002

Max made friends everywhere he went. Some people who said they didn’t like dogs soon found themselves petting his soft hair. He always seemed to know what each person needed. He was a very special little dog.

Max got along with other dog and cats. He and Libby raised several litters of orphaned kittens, one of which was adopted by my grandson.

While I was in Connecticut last January, Max, who stayed in Utah, suffered a back injury resulting in spinal cord trauma. My little buddy had gone from a healthy, happy 13 ½ year old puppy to an old dog who couldn’t walk or even stand. In the days after my return to Utah, he got a bit better, but mostly it was him trying to please me. It broke my heart to see my little guy struggle to even sit up, let alone try to walk. He was in pain but tried not to show it. Yet, with all that, he remained sweet and loving, gentle as ever.

Three days before he died, I was babysitting my then-youngest granddaughter at my house. She was 14 months old. Max had loved her from the first time he saw her when she was just a few days old, and she loved him back just as much. That day Max kept watch over my granddaughter, and she shared tiny pieces of twizzler with him. I have photos from that day.

The last day, Monday, February 27, 2012, my daughter and her baby went with me to take Max to the vet. It was a horrible day. On the ride there I wanted to scream at my daughter to turn around and take me anywhere else. My heart was breaking, but I knew it was the best for Max. He was in pain, and his quality of life wasn’t very good, and neither was the prognosis. I had talked with a few very close friends whom I trusted to help me make the decision, and I knew it was the right one, even though the pain was almost unbearable.

The vet and the tech were very sweet and gentle with us and with tiny Max. He seemed so much smaller and fragile as I held him for the last few minutes we would be together. When it was time for the injection, Max wanted to let me know it was all right, and that he loved me. As the vet took his paw to inject the liquid into the catheter, Max reached up and kissed my tears. Then he put his sweet little head on my arm and was gone.

I know he is waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge with Kyra and Libby, and Abby Cat who left me just three months earlier, and I know he is running free, healthy and happy.

I miss my little buddy every day. He was a true friend and gave me so much in his almost 14 years. I wish everyone could have such a loving and loyal friend at least once in their lives, to know that they are loved unconditionally, that they are important and worthwhile. I believe they are messengers of God to remind us of how He loves us. 

Max in heartMax, my little buddy, you were the best friend I ever had, and the best model for the dog sweaters I made to sell and give away. You were always there when I needed a hug, or someone to share a joy. You are truly missed. Rest in peace, my friend. I love you. You will never be forgotten. I will be remembering your joy of life and the wonderful times we had together.
It’s time to dance.


From → Pet Memorial, Pets

  1. What a beautiful homage to Mountain Man Max. Never easy. Big cyber hugs to you from a doggie momma who knows. Paulette

  2. So sweet…:) It is so heart breaking when they leave us. My Jester was my lil man. I miss him so much. My sister tattooed him on my back so he could still follow me around; he loved following me around.

  3. Angela permalink

    DeEtte, thank you for your story! You made me cry some good tears! Remember, true love is union. You and Max cannot be apart and one day you will be united forever!

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