I planned on writing a post about something else this week, but I can’t think about anything other than losing our beloved dog, Max. He died somewhat suddenly last Thursday from complications stemming from congestive heart failure. Max was my first baby. I got him when I was just 22 years old, in that vulnerable time after graduating from college. It was 2008 and I had just moved from Richmond to Austin to look for a job in public relations when firms were more keen to lay people off. My personal life also seemed a mess as David and I were trying to figure out if we were just college sweethearts or real-life partners (thankfully we ended up being the latter). So I was jobless, on a break from my relationship, and in a new city trying to figure out where my life was headed, when along came Max, my sweet little Cavalier King Charles. He gave me so much comfort and companionship, it was everything I needed at the time.
After a year and two internships in Austin, Max and I moved to Houston. David was attending medical school and I took a job teaching pre-k and enrolled in a Masters of Education program. David proposed soon after we moved and I couldn’t have been more excited to spend the rest of my life with him.
Max and I, along with David and his cat, Mr. Kitty, all moved in together soon after our engagement. Max loved everyone and every animal he met and he and Mr. Kitty got along famously. They would run around and chase each other while David and I were out during the day and would even snuggle with each other regularly.
After David finished his medical school training, he applied to orthopedic residencies across the country and eventually chose the program at University of Texas at Houston. Knowing we would be in Houston for the next five years and would likely start a family, we bought a house in West University in Houston. Max was there, of course!
Max was there for every milestone in our lives. From my first jobs out of college, to our wedding, first house, and the birth of all of our three children. Max provided me with stability as my life had its ups and downs during my twenties and early thirties. He was a dependable companion as I grew into adulthood. We’ve really grown up since he came into my life, and he certainly played a role in shaping our family!
Max assumed the role of family dog effortlessly as kids 1, 2, and then 3 came into the picture. It was so touching to watch Wil, Joseph, and Isabel grow attachments to him, give him kisses and hugs when they were being sweet, and Wil often calling him “His best friend”. The hardest part about him passing was the timing. Timing is never good for loss but Wil was in Houston with his grandparents when it happened, so we had to tell him when he got back and he felt like he didn’t get to say goodbye. It is hard to know the right way to tell a four and a half year old that their dog died. Wil is very curious and fact oriented so I responded with the honest truth when he asked very detailed questions about how he died. Joseph and Isabel were able to say their goodbyes in whatever way a two and a half and one year old can. Joseph gave him a hug at the animal hospital and said, “Bye bye Max”.
I will probably harbor some guilt for a bit around Max’s passing. In his last years, he slowly went from being the center of my world to someone else I needed to take care of on top of three young children, so the guilt of not giving him enough attention feels hard to reconcile. Each day gets better though and I know I’ll soon remember Max with all the good memories we had with him. He really was the best dog and he will forever be missed.