So, Max is gone. But, as they say, not forgotten.
However, I would not want to remember him as he was in the last weeks and months. He had become a shadow of his former self, and the end was a release for him and, to be honest, for us. Perhaps we held on for too long? It’s hard to take a decision to kill any animal — not for nothing am I a vegetarian — let alone one who has lived with you for nearly thirteen years. By the time we reached the final decision, Max seemed no longer to gain any enjoyment from life. His days were punctuated by annoyances and burdens, when what he wanted to do was just lie down, preferably in the sunshine, and snooze.
We actually bought Max to solve a problem. He was our desperate last-ditch response to a series of five burglaries in one year. My son had said we should get a Rhodesian Ridgeback, because they made fearsome guard dogs. And indeed, that proved to be the case. The fact that the police eventually caught the miserable addict who had repeatedly broken in to our house helped, but we never had another burglary.
Max was a splendid pet for most of his life (although he never did really get over the bad habit of trying to hump young female visitors). His need for walks introduced us to all the corners of Derby’s parks. He wasn’t a ball chaser or stick fetcher, but he used to race around taking full advantage of the wide open spaces.
It’s this Max that I shall seek to remember. Rather than mourning, I shall be trying to concentrate on the happy memories. The joyful, high-spirited dog that entertained and protected us, not the sad, painful shell that he recently became. He was such a good friend, but it’s good that he has now gone.