My dog’s name is Max. Ours is a long relationship. My children and I found him at an animal shelter when he was about 11 months old. He has the face and tail of an Akita and a longer, lower body of some other breed. He’s golden in color and the vet mentioned a possible Golden Retreiver mix, but since then I’ve seen Akitas that weren’t the usual white, black and brown—they are golden, like Max. I’ve imagined his other parent to be a Corgi, to explain his shorter-legged, longer body, even though that’s probably physically impossible.:)
When we first brought him home, he laid out on the deck in the backyard, sad and waiting. He wanted to go home, but no one had come for him, so he went up for adoption. We could pet him if we wanted, but he expressed no emotion. It was over a month before he responded to the name we gave him—Max. The most famous loyal Akita in the world is one in Japan who walked every day to the train station with his owner and came back at the end of the day when the train returned. His owner died, but how can you explain that to a dog? The Akita went back and forth to the train station every day for the rest of his life. After the dog died, an artist was commissioned to make a life-size bronze statue of the dog, which is displayed at the station.
We can see that loyalty in Max. He lies near the door of our apartment and if he hears anything unusual, he has a low growl that seems to come from his chest. When people walk by our front door or he sees movement outside the sliding glass door, he full-out barks. He sounds scary from outside.
When we were still in our home he lived inside with us and in the backyard. He chased jack rabbits and birds, which was FUN and kept him in good shape. The only time he was on a leash was to go to the vet (which is a whole other story). He was in shock when we moved to this apartment complex–he didn’t eliminate for six days. He likes to ‘do his business’ out of sight; I guess he was embarrassed. Learning to walk on the leash was hard for both of us.
I became distraught after a few months here because the sidewalks are common areas and lots of kids play on a big grassy area. He lunged and barked at anyone who came near my daughter or me and twice slammed his body into kids on bikes, knocking them over. (Neither was hurt, thanks be to God.) I was very upset with Max, but eventually he calmed down and now has young admirers all around the apartments. He loves the hugs and hands of love.
He’s 12-1/2 now and has lost most of his eyesight. He doesn’t always have control over his bladder. Sometimes he hops, trying not to put weight on his left front leg and when he lifts a rear leg to urinate, sometimes the other leg buckles. He’s in pain and I know I have to let him go, but it’s very, very hard. It’s soon, though.
My eldest said to make sure all the kids get to say goodbye to him. How can I tell them, though, without crying?