Max was the opposite of what Kim was looking for, but he turned out to be just what she needed. For Kim and Max, it was less of a match of certain qualities and more of a bond between two souls. Sharing how patience and an open heart led her to incredible joy, Kim recounts below the journey Max took from an unsure shelter visit to a special place in all our hearts.
We were looking for a medium to smaller female, on the younger side, already spayed, medium energy, and great with children, other dogs, cats, and people. I think owning any pet is a huge commitment and for everyone's sake, I wanted to make sure I chose wisely.
The volunteers were so awesome, so patient, and so obviously caring, but I just wasn't meeting "the one.” After many days of this, a volunteer said to me, "What exactly are you looking for?" As I recounted my wish list, her face fell and I could tell by her body language she was feeling rather defeated. Seeing that, I said, "Why? What's up?"
She said, "Well, we have a great dog, and he's good with children, really good, super sweet, just so nice, but he's big. And a male. And not neutered. And he has kennel cough. And he's a senior."
I mean, really? Except for the good with kids and sweet, he was absolutely everything my husband and I had said we didn't want. But seeing how crestfallen she looked I said, "Sounds perfect! Kennel cough, you say? 8 years old, you say? 100 pounds, eh? Let's go look!" We watched the exuberance with which he greeted grass! Trees! Leaves! One look, one nuzzle, and that was it. I still had to discuss adopting him with my husband, because he was so not what we had agreed to, but he slept on it and decided that if we could give him a good home and make him happy for a year or two, then so be it (proving I married the right man).
I took [Max] to our vet, and the vet said he was more like 4 or 5, not exactly a senior. He had silver on his muzzle, not gray, and, other than the kennel cough, was very healthy.
He fully recovered; and whether it was playing ball with my grandchildren in the backyard, walking with us on the trails, or this past year when I was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic melanoma and faced all the upheaval cancer brings, Max was with me every step. At one point I was too weak and sick to even get out of bed or lift my hands, but he stood by the side of the bed, with his chin resting on the mattress, for hours at a time. He didn't whine or bark, he just … stood there. I am free of the cancer (all glory to God), but through it all, there was Max. Always cheerful, always so close. Some days he was the only reason I could get out of bed.
Over the course of the past few months, we saw some changes in Max. He was getting older, slowing down, but heck, we said, we were, too. We shortened his walks, slowed our pace. Just this last weekend was when he developed respiratory distress and we took him to the emergency vet hospital. After lots and lots of tears, we decided we needed to let him go.
Naturally, we feel that he was special in so many ways; but it gladdens our still grieving hearts to know that other people think so, too.
When we adopted him, the good people at the shelter told us that Max acted as the shelter's good will ambassador; it appears he is continuing this work, even though he is no longer physically with us.
I hope that people, in reading about Max, will not rule out older animals. I hope they adopt mindfully, after careful consideration. I took my time in finding Max; I even prayed about it.
Max shows us just how valuable patience is in finding a forever friend. Kim was open to the possibility for the love Max could give her family and was rewarded with all the joy he had to offer. Just like Kim, we believe older, vulnerable animals have huge hearts to share, and you can share the companionship of dogs like Max by giving today.