Max, Again

I’ve said before that Max is my best bud.

He’s about 13 now, an older gentleman dog, fairly well-mannered as dogs go. He likes his car rides. When we go, and get off the highway, we roll down the window on the passenger side of the back seat. He’s able to sit right up and stick his nose out and sniff the no-longer-city air. I don’t put the window all the way down and let him put his head out — that’s how dogs get things in their eyes, and there’s nothing sadder than a dog with a scratched cornea and a medical cone on his head.

I don’t spoil him too much; maybe a side of bacon when we go through McDonald’s in the morning. I do it because I came so close to losing him not so long ago.

Three years ago this coming January, my husband and I split up. The apartment I moved into let me have the cat, but not the dog, so my ex took him. He said he’d walk him in the park, which was only four blocks away and all that. To make a long story short, he started spending more and more time at his girlfriend’s apartment, and she had three kids. The next thing I knew, he was telling me that Max had become vicious because he had nipped the youngest daughter twice, once in the face, and he was peeing on the bed.

My ex’s other girlfriend trained dogs for a living, and I trusted her. She concurred that this was not a good dog.

Yes, Max was somewhat neurotic, and I always kept him leashed when we had a house full of kids, but that was so that he didn’t get underfoot and be part of a misunderstanding. Still, I wasn’t there. I believed them and agreed that it would be better to put him down — at his age, he would be unadoptable….

Circumstances changed. I had to leave my apartment and I moved into the other girlfriend’s house (we had since become good friends). She suggested bringing Max to see how he’d do in a change of environment.

And there he is.

He doesn’t nip. He doesn’t growl. He doesn’t pee on the bed. In fact, in my house with Misha, if he has to go badly before someone gets home, he goes in the bathtub. Icky, yes sir. Easy to clean, yes sir still. He taught himself that. He’s a smart dog. He just needed his mom.

And his mom needs him.

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