Sunday, April 4, 2010

Man's Best Friend

Maxie’s best days are behind him now. He’s getting old (pushing 12) and has kidney disease so he’s slowed down quite a bit over the past year. He can’t do walks anymore, and he doesn’t stay out in the back yard much these days either, so one way to get him out and about is to take him to the pet supply store.

When I first got Maxie from the shelter I started looking for dog friendly places to walk him. We branched out from our neighborhood streets to quiet roads in the farm areas in town, to the woodlands and on to the beaches. Maxie has been to Canada, the White Mountains, Maine, and Vermont and just all over. We’ve covered countless walking miles on roads and trails over the years. Maxie was my best traveling buddy and he rode shotgun with gusto. Shake the keys and he would head straight for the door and stand there staring forward until I opened it and set him free (he still does that sometimes but he has to be “airlifted” out). Mention the word “park” and he would dance in circles and run wild through the house. His ears still perk up, but his racing and dancing days are over. I would actually have to avoid driving past the park if I didn’t intend to stop because if he caught sight of it through the window he’d get all crazy right in the car.

Maxie was hard on the neighbors, too. He would patrol the back fence that separates my yard from the condos behind us and many of those people walk their own dogs in the back lot. Maxie would hang out back watching and as soon as there was a hint of movement he was on them yapping and racing along the fence until they finally disappeared beyond the buildings. Maxie was no more forgiving of my other neighbors and they would be victimized in their own yards. Maxie owned everything and everywhere we went became his territory. Sadly, he doesn’t bark anymore either now that he’s in his sunset years. We still go to the park where he meanders quietly sniffing trees until he gets tired, but everyone gets by him with just a look and a slight perking of the ears. The neighbors don’t get stalked anymore and the days of hiking together in the woods are done. Anyone who's had a dog knows how sad it is to have to start leaving them behind and going off on your own. It’s like, well, losing your best friend.

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