I know you've seen us celebrate his birthday, you've seen the cakes we've baked, the parties we've held and you probably have a pretty good idea of just how much we love Max-the-dog.
A couple of months ago Max was terribly unwell and we thought we were going to lose him. To say that I cried a lot would be a fairly big understatement. He spent several days at the Vet clinic on a drip, drugged out on antibiotics and having more tests than you could believe. He seemed to recover, though he didn't exactly bounce back, but within a week or so we was right back at the Vet and, again, things weren't looking good. Coincidentally, and completely unrelated, our neighbours dog was also suffering and they were just as worried and just as upset.
Of course this was when my neighbour and I decided to go to the movies. And without really knowing what it was about we went to see Marley and Me. Big mistake. HUGE mistake. Anne and I pretty much sobbed our way through the film - for those who haven't seen it the Marley in the title is the dog and the film is about him and his human family, from the wedding day to Marley's arrival to the births of the children and beyond. We sniffed and cried and mopped up tears and in the end we both pretty much just sobbed. Sadly the neighbours pooch, Billy, didn't make it. The kids and I bought a Bay tree and we gave it to the family so that they could plant it in their yard as their 'Billy-tree' and we grieved with them.
Meanwhile Max slowly, slowly improved but we were warned that if he became ill again the Vet wouldn't be able to do anything and we should be prepared for the worst. We were offered a few scenarios that included mega-expensive surgery that might not even fix the problem and had to make some hard choices while we paid the steadily mounting Vet bills, cried, and struggled with guilt at not wanting to, or being able to, spend the kind of money. They were talking thousands of dollars and we'd already spent a not-so-small fortune and a good portion of our savings on his treatment.
He started off on a heavy regime of drugs, some prescribed ointments and a special diet and the first day that he barked at the postman we were so darn happy you wouldn't believe it. The first time he barked at people walking along the street the neighbours rejoiced with us. And the first time he ran, yes ran, across the yard Hubby and I beamed as though our first-born had just walked on the moon.
Max has continued to improve, his drug regime has been cut down considerably and we yell at him to shut up when he barks at the phone ringing so life is slowly returning to normal. He's getting old - he's eleven and a half now - and he's slowing down but he's getting back to being his happy, silly self. He 'talks' to you when you come in from work, he rounds the kids up in the backyard, he runs away from his bath and he bangs his dinner bowl on the brick paving when he thinks we might possibly have forgotten to give him his dinner (you know at, like, 5.30 in the afternoon!).
We're all so happy to have 'our boy' back. But, I feel like going through this with Max has almost given us a preview of what's to come and I don't want it. It made me fully realise what an integral part of our family he is. He was my wedding present to Hubby and the kids have never known our family without him. And I just want to keep him forever.