Saturday, August 20, 2011

My writing partner, and an explanation of significant loss

Here he is.  My steady partner in this adventure.  Although I've been writing for my whole life, Max has been my constant side-kick for a year and a half.  It's hard to believe at his now almost 100 lb. self that he was just a tiny puppy in the palm of my hand a year and a half ago.

"Constant friend?" some may wonder..."what happened to Maddie?"  Somebody even asked me that on facebook recently..."why don't we hear as much about Maddie?  Is she okay? Why do you write about Max more?"  In answer to these questions, Maddie's still the best girl dog on the planet, and she absolutely lights up our lives.  And as far as how she's doing -- MARVELOUS.  She totally healed and just as happy and sweet as she can be.  So in answer to the question of why I write about Max more, or why I spend time with him more...

The answer is simply that he spends more time with me. Maddie likes a lot of "alone" time.  It's just how she's wired.  I didn't realize her uniqueness so much until we had Max.  She does snuggle and she's just as kind as can be, but she also likes at least equal parts of time alone.

I have thought  many times how Maddie and Max actually fit God's description of man/woman in the Bible.  Did you ever notice that God said in Genesis that it's not good for a MAN to be alone, but no where does he ever say it's not good for a woman?  I have found even in mine and Larry's relationship, I love my alone time...he hates it.  As much as I love my family, I also love walks alone, bike rides alone, even trips by myself around the world alone.  I don't mind eating alone, traveling alone, even being alone for days at a time.  The same thing almost kills my husband.  He can't stand it for longer than about 2 seconds.  I am not criticizing him for this at all, simply noting the differences between us.  And differences aren't bad, just different.  If both of us were the same one of us would be unnecessary, right?

Now, back to Max.  When we brought Max home at just 8 weeks old, he couldn't be alone for a moment without crying.  Maddie on the other hand slept in her kennel from night one all by herself just fine and never cried.  My heart couldn't take the crying from Max.  He slept right under my chin for the first three months of his life, all night long.  Larry wasn't exactly crazy about it but I assured him it wouldn't be forever or even a terribly long time.  I was right.  At three months old Max finally got it into his head that he was secure and we weren't leaving him, and this was his home.  He went into his kennel for the night at three months old and that's where he's slept all night since.  But first thing in the early morning, he does want to be with us, and he lets us know it.

On the contrary, Maddie chooses to spend a good portion of her day sitting alone in front of the sliding glass doors napping or staring out the window.  She's always done that, even before we had Max. Max won't do that, EVER.

Here is how my day goes with Max, if it's a day I'm working from home.  Note on days I'm at the office it's basically Max's sad days when he has to go in the kennel and wait til' I get home.  But here's a work from home day:

Early Morning (somewhere between 5-7 usually)  Max cries to get out of kennel

Take Max potty.

Max comes into bedroom, hops onto bed with Larry and I.  He forgets that he's 100 lb., not 5 lb anymore and still gets right under my chin or plops right down on us and sleeps for a little while longer.   Periodically Larry rolls over and says, "My legs are numb."  I remind him there are sacrifices to being a bulldog dad.  :)  LOL   (Please keep in mind it was Larry's idea entirely to get Max in the first place.  I remind him of this often.) 

I wake up.  Go out and turn coffee pot on. Max follows.  Give him and Maddie one treat a piece to hold them over til' breakfast and some water.

I go turn water on in my big bathtub. Put bubbles in.  Max has followed me to bathroom and sits next to the tub.  Once the water's ready, I get in.  Max stays right there and waits for me by the tub while I bathe.  At times he will put his paws on the side of the tub and peer over as if to say, "hey, don't just lay there in the bubbles...talk to me." 

I get out of tub.  Dry off, get dressed while Max remains right there by the tub or goes by my chair to sit and wait for me.

I sit in my chair in front of the mirror.  Put on make up, and fix my hair.  Max sits right beside me.  Occasionally might take his right paw and pat my knee as if to say, "Hey, give me a hug."  Most times I turn off the hair dryer, lean down and give him a hug, say a few words, then keep drying.

I go out to fix breakfast,  and feed both Max and Maddie.  We sit out in the kitchen, me at the barstool in the kitchen, them on the floor at my feet and the three of us eat.

Once finished eating I take them back out to potty.

Start my work.

Maddie goes over to sit in front of the sliding glass doors, soaking up the warm sun rays coming thru the window.  Max on the other hand, climbs up and sits right next to me.  If I'm at my desk at home, he sits at my feet.  If I'm on the sofa, or on the bed with my lap top, he gets up there and is right there against me the entire time.  Every once in a while he'll touch me with his right paw as if to say, "hey, stop for a minute, and give me love."  I do and then go right back to work.

We stop for lunch, for my lunch, that is.  They don't eat again at lunch, but Max sits right at my feet.  If I get up to go potty, he comes and stands outside the bathroom door and patiently waits for me when I'm done.  Then he follows me to the sink while I wash my hands.  Patiently waits while I dry them.  Then follows me back to my laptop and snuggles beside me again.

While I take or make calls, he's right there with me.  Whether a call from a church member or a job seeker call, he stays right there quietly by my side.  Sometimes when I'm on a difficult phone call it's especially comforting to have him there.  I miss him when I'm at the office and have to take calls alone with no one there beside me.  There have been many times I'm on a call where somebody's effectively and unfortunately raising my blood pressure. Just rubbing Max's head while I talk and seeing his kind eyes brings it back down.  I call him my "blood pressure medication."  Research proves I'm not so crazy for doing this.

He stays right beside me and doesn't leave me the whole day while I work.

When it's time to fix supper he gets up with me and follows me out to the kitchen, and stands right there while I'm cooking.  Sometimes he just gets comfy and lays in an out of the way spot in the kitchen so he's out of my path back and forth from fridge to stove to pantry, but still in my eyesight and talking range.  Sometimes I talk to him while I cook supper.

If I'm not done my work in the evening he follows me right back to sit beside me at the computer while I work.  If I'm done my work and head out to ride my bike or walk for an hour, Max finds the nearest family member and goes and sits with them.  He might snuggle with Larry while he's watching TV or talk to Dustin for a while.  One thing is for sure, he's never alone.


When I come back he stays right by me while I'm doing whatever I'm doing -- cleaning, TV, laundry, he's right there.

Sometimes Larry takes him for walks or rides.  He's a bull in a china shop and sometimes too powerful for me to do that once we get out of the house.  He loves to go "bye bye's" and as soon as Larry gets the leash and tells him that Max bounds up, ready to go! 

Max stays, quite literally by my side 24/7 when I'm home, until it's time to "go night night" as Larry tells him, in his kennel.  When Larry and I get ready to go to sleep, Larry just says, "Max, it's night night time" and Max dutifully hops down, walks to his kennel and gets in.  He goes to sleep and then in the morning we start all over again unless it's a day where I work at the office.

Someone recently remarked to me that they never realized how hard they would take it when their pet died.  They felt kind of guilty because it was harder for them to lose a pet than it was to lose a human being.  They struggled to explain why the significant loss of their pet was the worst,  although it was their reality and they felt just at a loss as to try to figure it out.  I offered this explanation.  I really believe a reason our pets become so close to us, and their loss so profound is because unlike most people, our pet is pretty much in our "personal space" 24/7.  Think about it...who besides your spouse would ever be in the bathroom while you're there,  or on  your bed, or sitting with you when you're upset at 3 am?  In my opinion, this pretty much explains why people feel a significant loss like no other when their pet is gone.  Well, that and the unconditional love...

Pets don't offer judgment, they just offer comfort.  

When I am upset about something, Max becomes upset too.  He comes right to me and puts his paws up on my shoulders, as if he's hugging me.  He relentlessly does that until I calm down and tell him, "it's okay" and he senses it not just from my words but my actions.  I've told him, "I'm okay" before but if tears are in my eyes, he doesn't believe me.  He hops back up and puts his paws on my shoulders again.  He fights to stay there until he senses that I've calmed down.  He pushes his face toward mine and keeps his paws on my shoulders until my tears and dried and my voice range comes back to normal.  His intuition is amazing to me.

I'm so thankful for my loyal friend and writing partner...Max Shrodes.  And for all of you who have experienced the significant loss of your sweet and loyal fur-kids as some call them, can I just say that your grief is perfectly understandable?  

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