A memorial to Max by his foster dad, David De Witt, who showed him unconditional love and care until the end:
It didn’t take long for me to realize that “Max” had experienced a tough life… it was his eyes – those deep, thoughtful, telling eyes that speak volumes. It was those eyes that brought him to Muttville in the first place. Brought in as a stray to the Madera animal shelter, his eyes made contact with a local rescuer there to rescue another dog, and she knew he needed that extra opportunity for life that Muttville provides.
His body was frail—only around 40 pounds, too light for a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix. It could have been malnourishment as a stray; perhaps it was simply his “old man” body. It also became very apparent shortly after arriving, and up to a week later, that Max was not used to living inside; he definitely made his “mark” on my home (actually, the carpet).
He was understandably quiet and cautious at first, and took some time to trust. However, a few days later he was not only allowing me to pet him, but Max would also stick his head back under my hand for more! He also adopted the endearing habit of one of my other dogs, of following me from room to room to keep tabs on me. He seemed to be content just sharing space with someone who cared.
It also seemed as though he was not used to following direction, or he was simply good at ignoring me! However, I soon discovered that his apparent aloof behavior was not intentional. Rather, it turned out to be profound hearing loss. That also could have explained why he didn’t so much as make a peep his entire stay with me. So, I simply adjusted to visual communication with him. Max’s hearing impairment was confirmed by the vet at his thorough health check Muttville provides all new foster dogs prior to adopting them out. He was also suffering from anemia.
Like so many dogs, Max was good at ignoring food with his new meds or eating around the medicine parts. I also discovered that he was a fan of fetching tennis balls, dropping the ball so I had to take a step towards him, his head lowered with “eyes on the prize” and at the ready for the next toss! Now, my 9yor dog is a big ball hound, and often would go after the ball tossed for Max, even when I threw two tennis balls. I worried that her speed and drive would discourage Max, but he appeared just as happy trotting back without the ball, following right behind my dog, seemingly generous to share the joy of a good ball fetch! This playtime really showed Max’s youthful spirit, and brought a smile to both of us. I could tell he was really coming out of his shell.
A week later, Max was eating, but not gaining weight. A second vet visit for more diagnostic blood and other testing showed he had made a full recovery from his anemia. That was the good news. However, I was not expecting the bad news—X-rays showed a large mass in his abdomen, which looked as big as a softball. The vet believed it was cancer of the spleen. She indicated that surgery could remove the mass, but would likely only give him another couple months because it had likely metastasized. The x-rays also showed buckshot that was embedded in his chest and abdomen, a testament to his previous existence as a stray in the Central Valley.
The devastating news came on a Friday morning. There were at least two potential adopters looking forward to meeting Max that weekend. However, the decision was made to euthanize as the most humane option. An appointment was made for Monday afternoon so I could have a couple more days with my new friend, who came to me as a closed-up wallflower, but quickly bloomed.
The weekend was warm and sunny, and full of long, casual walks full of smells, hours of playing fetch, and simply hanging out in the green grass. Max smiled quite a bit that weekend, and had a spring to his step; he seemed full of life yet very calm and contented. Perhaps he knew what was coming.
I was with Max, providing perpetual petting, as the vet helped him shuffle off his mortal coil, allowing his spirit to run free and do all the things his old body no longer could. I asked my former dogs, fosters, and other canine friends passed to greet Max when he arrived.
Reflecting upon the short but full three weeks I had known Max, I realize he was among those “special ones” who touch the soul and teach life lessons. Despite his previous treatment and the many challenges he faced, Max was willing to trust again and take another chance at happiness. He did not dwell on the past or worry about the future. Max lived in the moment, taking each experience as it came and making the most of it. He reminded me that we should all slow down and take time to “smell the roses” and appreciate the little things—a comfortable breeze, a blue sky, a tree’s blooms and new buds as spring ushers in a resurgence of life, the company and love of a dog. It brings into focus the cycle of life and mortality, and that our time on Earth is limited. Being mindful of and appreciating the present moment can do wonders for the spirit in these stressful times. That’s what Max imparted to me. I’m grateful I could share in that basic but rich experience dogs enjoy, and be there for him in his final days.
Well, it was rainy and cold but some Muttville dogs found their new, warm forever homes!
After going through abandonment, fear, uncertainty, and shelters these lucky dogs landed at Muttville. Thanks to our loving foster homes, they had a chance to overcome these emotions and – thanks to our donors – they all got the vet care they needed. They have new places to spend their golden years. The lucky adopters and dogs will have the chance to give lots of love to each other.
A job well done. Thanks to all that have helped, opening up their hearts to a senior dog in need and saving a life. And because these dogs have been adopted, we now have the space to save more dogs in danger. Woofs!
For the second year in a row, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has been voted BEST RESCUE GROUP and BEST CANINE CAUSE!!
We’re thrilled and honored!
From Bay Woof:
Best Rescue Group:
- BadRap – 28.0%
- Grateful Dogs Rescue – 15.1%
- Wonder Dog Rescue – 10.7%
- Muttville – 46.2%
Best Canine Cause:
- Petchitecture/PAWS – Support for companion animals of low-income persons with disabling HIV/AIDS – 11.0%
- Give A Dog A Bone – Support for long-term shelter dogs – 20.3%
- BADRAP – Pit Bull Rescue – 28.6%
- Muttville – Senior Dog Rescue – 40.1%
Winner in both the Best Cause and Best Rescue Group categories, Muttville does exceptional work for an oft-overlooked class of homeless dogs. Sherri Franklin started Muttville four years ago to help canine senior citizens enjoy loving companionship and comfortable surroundings right up to the end of their lives. As of press time, the result of her efforts (now aided by others) is almost 1,000 dogs rescued from shelter trauma and possible euthanasia. Virtually every weekend, Muttville holds an adoption fair somewhere in the Bay Area. Check the schedule at www.muttville.org/news_and_events.
See full list at http://baywoof.com/11.BeastoftheBay.shtml
Thanks for your votes and congrats to all the winners!
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