We could see it in his eyes. The end was near and the spark of life, that our dog possessed all his life simply was not there anymore. Those days, when Maximus would be jumping around just to greet us by the door or energetically chasing his toys to get our attention, were long gone.
It is funny how we become accustomed to simple things, take them for granted over the time and at the end we realize its great value when we lose it, or when we are about to lose it.
I think something like this happened to our family when our Maxi got diagnosed with a genetical heart condition this spring. It came as a very unpleasant surprise, if I say it mildly, that our healthy-looking Coton could depart from our lives very soon.
Maxi recovered quickly after being treated in Barcelona emergency for pets and sent home along with prescription for heavy medication. A reality check for all of us followed: our dear four-legged family member would spend rest of his days getting drugs. We knew that his time here with us was approaching to its end, we just did not know how long it would be.
Max would not even skip a beat and kept being the same dog as always. His playful demeanor kept us in good spirits and he never made us feel that there is something wrong with his heart. Medically speaking of course.
It is an irony that someone with such a big heart would die because of it.
Maximus was there when both of our children were born, he greeted them and, in many ways, he felt like he was supposed to protect them. He always showed affection toward them, and in this last stage of his life, he would cuddle against them more often.
I suppose that he felt a need to show his love more often, and I am sure that he got it from us in return as well.
Trip to the emergency for the third time within past 12 months was not a good sign. We were preparing ourselves for the possibility that it could be the last one. Once we got there, and received the hard news about his bad condition, we had to make the toughest decision that I pet owner must make: to let your friend go, to stop his suffering, to put him to sleep. We all knew that it was the right decision but somehow it did not feel any less painful.
We were blessed with a great doctor who dealt with the situation with an exceptionally good manner. She was practical but at the same time, she understood that we stood in front a very delicate decision, a sad one too. When we left the room, and hugged our Maxi for the last time, we waited for five minutes for the final ordeal to take place.
When she came out, our eyes were all wet and puffy. And then she told us something so warm, that we really did not expect:
“I have seen many dogs in my career, and I can tell when a dog has had a good life or did not. I am certain that Maximus gave you a lot of great memories and that he lived a good life. He is in peace now.”
We left the clinic in tears. Her warms last words were nice but obviously not enough. We spent our ten-minute drive home in silence. Deep in thoughts, reminiscing, remembering and mostly just feeling sad.
And then there was still one more thing that we had to do. We had to explain to our kids that Maximus was ill and that he died in the hospital. With foresight, we prepared them for that possibility on many prior occasions.
We all deal with death differently, and one must be careful when you explain it to the young children.
Their idea of death can be sometimes downplayed or exaggerated.
So, we tried to explain in minimal detail the whole ordeal and kept repeating all the positive things that have happened, and what was good for Maxi.
By doing that, we started to remember all the great stories. Suddenly, we talked about life more than about death, we smiled more than we cried.
I think that Maxi would be incredibly happy to see us there together, wiggling his tail every time his name would be mentioned in our conversation. He would feel our love and how much we are going to miss him.