Maxie has been a true delight and unconditionally loving presence in my life — and many of yours — for the past 15 and a half years. He is an old man now at 17 and suffering from old age maladies. Max loves his ice cream and prefers vanilla.
We are helping him pass this Thursday at noon at my home with Dr. Michele Reynolds from “Home to Heaven.” You are most welcome if you want to be with us here or in your hearts to celebrate a remarkable dog. We appreciate the love you shared with Maxie, as well as your patience when he was a little curmudgeonly at times.
Max had an ability to connect. He regulated himself beautifully and was able to really regulate me. The love between us is very strong. All animal lovers know that these special beings can crawl into your heart and live there. Maxie will be living in mine forever.
One example of his doggy intelligence: He used to come up to me and put his head on my thigh while I was working and refuse to leave me. I thought he was insisting on a walk… but I quickly came to realize that he was doing this at the precise moment that I was crossing over into exhaustion and not smart enough to stop working myself.
Max was found 15 and a half years ago when I was cycling in the backwoods of Colorado with my friends from “Women on Wheels.” He was picked up by one of the swag teams and called “Nubbins” for his cute little cropped tail. Later we decided he was too manly for “Nubbins” and he became “Max.”
Poor little guy was sick and starving, chasing trucks in the middle of nowhere. Who knows how long he had been stranded there all alone. The girls scooped him up, took him to the next little town and smuggled him into the hotel for a wash and some chow. He was a happy guy, but scared too. I volunteered to take him to the pound in Denver when we got home. He never got there. After a few days getting him checked out by the vet, who told us he was a pure-bred red Australian Heeler, Larry and I adopted him and he began a year and a half healing process from his abandonment trauma. We speculated he was a barn pup, as he had no use for stairs. And he did not know the difference from inside and out, meaning there were lots of messes in those first few months.
In the beginning, Maxie was afraid to be touched so I just had my arms open wide in an invitation but never pushed touch. Gradually, at his own pace, he took more and more affectionate contact to become a total love muffin! I used to massage his back every morning and as soon as he would awaken, he would snuggle up and align himself for this yummy ritual. Unfortunately, his nails were too long to return the favor!
I studied five different training books to learn how to train myself to be with him in the best possible way. I found the books were really training for humans to learn to interact correctly with another species rather than about training dogs specifically. I finally settled on that great book, How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners, about monks keeping their monastery alive by training German Shepherds though compassion. The book was filled with gorgeous insights and does double duty as a manual for Secure Attachment training.
Maxie’s breed is very stoic, so it is even difficult now to know when Maxie is in pain. He lets you know with a low growl when you touch him in the wrong spot. With Kathy’s intuitive dog reading help, he and she have told us that now it is the right time to let him go to his next experience.
Maxie was a Heller — a healer as well as a heeler. He could be on “down-stay” for over an hour and be in our office with clients who were open to a little more limbic support from the animal world. He helped many clients return to their own loving hearts through the support of his — even offering his face and fur for clients reaching out to cling to on their way to returning to Secure Attachment. Those that have a leaning toward Avoidant attachment (me included) find animals even more helpful on the way toward regaining bonding than your standard animal lover.
I want to thank Larry and Kevin Heller who took Maxie on many a run and shared a loving home with him for many years. Huge never-ending gratitude goes out to Jay and Carolyn Call, Bob and Susan Heller, and Mary, Wayne and Kate. You are all truly great dog lovers who took care of him, played with him, nursed him, and loved him when I was out of town teaching for over 15 years. I could never have had a dog in good conscience without all of YOU!
Max loved to hike the Colorado Rockies, run with and chase his loved ones, fetch a ball or track down a rabbit. He tried to drive the car, always preferring the driver’s seat. Heelers are part dingo, so they can withstand the heat of Australia and start out as stealthy, silent dogs who learn to bark from other dogs later. They always know who is in their “group.”
Max nipped ankles, pantlegs, bicyclists, skateboarders and, in his momentary crazy grandiosity, would try to catch cars driving by. Bred as a heeler, it was in his bones and instincts to chase and herd cattle, sheep, and horses. Heelers do that by nipping at the heels of the cattle to move them. In the wild west of Colorado, in the pioneer days, they used to use these dogs as silent cattle rustlers to steal herds so I always told Max he probably had a criminal past! As natural born herders, they collect strays. While hiking, if someone strayed off the trail to relieve themselves, Max would be right there trying to get them back into the group! When he was not proudly trailblazing ahead, he would run to and fro from the front of the group to the back to keep track of who was hiking and keep everyone together.
And watch out if we came across a bunch of kids playing football! Max would try to bite the ball and round up and herd the kids.
Max is a delight and has loved me so well for so long it is hard to say goodbye, but I know it is his time. I feel so privileged to be with him at this important time. He will be surrounded by loved ones who will keep loving him as he travels to join other friends and family. Maxie, you have been a light and we love you!
Rainbow Bridge. I want to also share a beautiful poem that Joanie shared with me…I love it! It is called Rainbow Bridge for a special poem if you have lost a pet you deeply loved.)
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