Max was more than a great dog. He was a great friend. He would listen to me when I was sad or depressed or when I was silly and happy he would be right there to act stupid with me and play. He had a way of smiling and kissing me that always made me feel better.
I remember the first day I brought Max home. Dad didn't really want a dog (he had made that quite clear and I was 23 so I should have known to listen by then), but I knew he had a soft sot for Dobermans so that is what I brought home. I was petting Max on the couch when Dad walked in. He didn't say Max had to go. He didn't yell or get mad. He just looked at me, smiled, shook his head and told me to get ready for soccer practice. He and Max were instant friends if he cares to admit it or not.
As Max grew older he needed more exercise so Dad and I would take hi to the high school and throw balls for him to chase. Max loved to chase balls, but he didn't like bringing the balls back. For him it was a big game of chase - I have the ball - now you come and get it. One time I got the ball away from Max and was standing about 10 feet from my dad. I threw the ball and Max turned and plowed right into my dad. His glasses went one way and his body went another, with him landing right on his bottom and Max not even being phased. Once we realized my dad wasn't hurt we both laughed like mad.
Then there was the Thanksgiving Max sliced his leg open. We had some broken pottery in the back yard which we had used to fill in a hole. I was playing throw the ball and chase Max when I threw the ball and Max slid into the broken pottery. It cut his front leg open almost to the bone. There was blood everywhere and I was really scared. We tied a tourniquet onto his leg to try and stop the bleeding... but we were in Guam and it was Thanksgiving. Eventually we found a vet who agreed to meet us and check out his leg. She and I ended up doing emergency surgery on that dog that day. I thought it was totally cool of course since I had always wanted to be a vet in the first place.
Max of course could never leave his stitches alone and was always tearing them out. Eventually the vet gave up trying to sew him back together and suggested we take him swimming in the ocean. That is when our Sunday morning beach walks began. Dad and I would wake up early on Sunday mornings, load up Max and head for the beach Max loved swimming in the water and chasing butterflies down the jungle path. He loved to wrestle with my dad in the salty ocean water and dive.
Max was a great dog that my dad and I shared for fourteen years. I even brought him to Arizona when I came back to the states, after all he was my very best friend. Then one week I noticed he wasn't getting up as fast as he used to. He wasn't walking very well either. My dad was scheduled to go on a sailing trip and we both thought Max would be okay until my dad got back in a few days. But by that Saturday Max couldn't get up anymore.
I remember carrying Max from the house to the car thinking "this is it old buddy." I drove him to the vet where they ran tests. They told me Max was full of cancer and needed to be put to sleep. I remember holding Max's head as he ran toward heaven. I was thinking - now you can chase those butterflies and swim forever.
I miss you my friend.