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Dear Readers and faithful friends,

After a number of years of wonderful blogging, this blog has effectively become dormant - except for occasional updates regarding my book, MAXDOG. I have left this blog as a legacy to my dog and a place of sanctuary where we can reflect upon his life. Take your time, peruse the pages spanning Max's 18 months in cyberspace. Feel refreshed and uplifted because his story is an amazing one of..."LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX!"
My activities have now moved on to my new blog entitled "LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX". Please join me there where you can read about my family and canine companions. I also invite you to visit MAXDOG's FANPAGE on FACEBOOK. You can follow the specific links by clicking below:

* 'LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX: click HERE
*MAXDOG'S FACEBOOK FAN PAGE: click HERE
* MAXDOG, the book: click HERE

If you would like to follow me on a deeper, spiritual level, then I invite you to visit my more personal blog:

May God bless you and thank you for following me!
MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA

MAXDOG's CHRISTMAS TRIBUTE

Monday, March 1, 2010

THE AUTUMN OF MAX'S LIFE

GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!!!

It's the Autumn of Max's life!

We went on our usual Sunday walk yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful, sunny day!

TAMMY: Poetry in motion...

Our long, green grass in the walkway to the park has finally been cut (sob!).
(Only the otherside of the fence has long grass now. Unfortunately that is a no-go area at the moment!)

Little dogs also get walks!!!
KING TOFFEE on the left and TOMMY on the right...

Our South African sunshine always brings out the best Golden colours!



"Mom & Me"

Back on the cool lawn at home, TAMMY chills...


So does MAXDOG...

IT IS THE THE AUTUMN OF MAX’S LIFE

The seasons are changing! There is a bite in the air!
It is the autumn of Max’s life and a shift in ours.
Outside the transforming colours of trees have become symbolic of what we are facing in our own lives…the slow, steady, fight against the inevitable.

He is a living, walking, breathing miracle!
He’s like that last leaf clinging to its branch but still looking so beautiful!
As the sun shines during the day, so does he! He lives on enthusiastically…
…enjoying his walk!
…enjoying his food!
…enjoying us!
…but becoming increasingly more uncomfortable and visibly less vital.

There is a deep ache in me. It is a sense of loss that hasn’t yet fully materialized. There is hope too, but for what? I only really have hope in the moment and the memories of what is history.

It is the evenings which I dread most! It’s then that I give him his tablet. I tuck it up in some soft bread while he sits at my feet and wags his tail enthusiastically. I know he loves it because he looks at me with those big, brown and trusting eyes. I know he is wondering what he’s accomplished to deserve this treat?

But it is in the tablet’s design that its unknown strength lies. It is a power that will knock him out for the night, sap his spirit and feign death. It is a tiny pill that forces me to confront his reality.

He becomes quieter after a while and seems assured by his “treat”. We settle into comfortable places – to watch TV and absorb what is. I drop to the floor near him and he instantly moves to tuck his body firmly into the side of mine. This way he’ll know if I move and he’ll echo me. He is so clingy its pathetic!...as if I am his life’s blood. My heart breaks.

I sit beside him, gently stroking his silky fur. Wondering, watching, waiting for the effects of the tablet with which I have ‘treated’ him. Soon he sinks into slumber and his breathing becomes quietly steady; gently rising and falling as he sinks lower and deeper into the grip of the medication. Soon the pattern of chest movement is hardly visible. He’s taken to sleeping with his eyes slightly open. It is most disconcerting!

Our mutual heartbeats act like an old balancing scale…as his drops lower, mine increases in anticipation. It’s anything but restful…it’s the cause of my own fatigue…eating away at my very soul!

It’s the big sigh that he emits that is the most frightening! At one point in his deep semi-conscious state, he takes in a big, audible, slow breath and then produces a loud sigh of total submission. It is then that I wonder if this is his golden breath!? He appears lifeless at that moment as my own heart rate is at its maximum and my tears well.

The seconds which follow feel like a lifetime and I slowly count: “One!...Two!...Three!..........Fourteen!...Fift…?”
At exactly fifteen seconds there is a small, gentle rise in his chest – as I hold mine. Then another…and another which settles back into a rhythmical motion. It’s all been a disguise… not quite the moment I have been dreading!”


And so the evening and night proceed in the same pattern. Eventually I can’t watch anymore and we retire to the bedroom. Max immediately gets up and shakes himself off. He looks like the contents of a wash basket! He follows us unsteadily and half asleep to his own bed in the corner of our bedroom.

In the morning we are woken by the birds and a new day. As I walk past him, Max thumps out his greeting on the floor with his heavy tail. He’s made it through the night and we both feel the dawn and the blessing of another day of grace.

This is Day 23 of the Autumn of Max’s life!
Thank you, dear friends, for living this journey with us.

We love and appreciate you all!


Lotsalicks

MAXDOG IN SOUTH AFRICA

63 comments:

Heather in MN said...

We are enjoying Max's autumn with you, and we are here for you if you need anything.

Heather in MN (I'm a fairly new "Max fan.")

Cocorue said...

you made mumster tear again and she Vowed Not to tear but enjoy Max's daily journey.......

we visit daily to celebrate Max's life and ours too and you have this 'gift' of reaching deep down inside to touch our very core

chikisses and love you lots
Coco, Tiffy and mumster

Priscilla said...

You're very lucky to have Max. Even if he's clingy, it's coz he loves you. May he live as long as he can happily.

Zoolatry said...

Max... we love you.

Mango said...

It sounds like a healing sleep which is good for Max. He does seem to be enjoying his days.

Mango Momma

kks said...

beautiful....

you are preparing yourself for the inevitable....more importantly, you are enjoying every moment you have with such a wonderful creature you call Max

thanks for sharing this difficult journey.....

xoxox

what kind of med is he on?

The Bumpass Hounds said...

Hey Max and gang,
Ms. Caryl did a very beautiful post of her most personal and private emotions today. Such a heartfelt discourse we haven't read in a long, long time. We are not "pleased" to be accompanying Max on his final journey but we are deeply honored to and we do so willingly; that's what true friends would do. These post allow us to feel intimately connected to Max. We share the same dreads each morning that Ms. Caryl experiences each night. We awake not knowing but being drawn to the day's post to check on our dear friend so far away. We thank DOG for each day of Grace that Max is granted but in our minds we realized that this is just a travel detour to enjoy the scenic passage to the final destination. We wish him many more such detour Grace days. We hold Max and his family in our hearts and prayers. We love you Max Dog; we truly do.
- TBH&K

~Kim~ said...

I know all too well what you are going through. You can't help but hold your breath as you give them their medication and say a silent prayer hoping they'll want to eat their meal. It's wonderful that Max continues to do so well and I continue to keep Max in my prayers and hope that the seasons pass very slowly for him and you continue to have beautiful "Golden Days" with him!

kks said...

i have never heard of this drug...are you sure it isn't piroxicam?

Little Island In The Med said...

Ypur post literally brought tears to my eyes. We are all thinking of you and dreading the inevitable with you too.

Now, a different question... you have 4 dogs, do they all sleep in your room? We have just got our second and I'm not sure what to do regarding the nightime sleeping situation... suddenly two seems very different!

Little Island In The Med said...

PS - Can I recommend a brilliant book to you... "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" by Garth Stein.

In the book, the dog who narrates it believes he will go on to be reincarnated as a man when he dies, and longs for the day he can talk and do all the human things he has watched. It is a wonderful book.

MAX said...

Hi there everybody
Just to fill readers in:...
* Max is on a drug labelled "Pixicam"20mg (half a tab once a day). This drug apparently has different names.
* Yes, all four dogs sleep in our bedroom - it is safer that way since dog poisonings and various crimal activities are common here. I prefer my animals with me at night.
Luv C

Madi and Mom said...

Dear Max and Mom.....once again I'm speechless. What a beautiful post. Mom you are a very brave, strong lady and I can tell from each post you are writing to honor Max the most amazing dog I've ever met. On his 23rd day of Grace I feel richer for having known you both. Thank you for sharing all these very private moments with us.
Madi and Mom

Martine said...

Dear Max and Caryl
Your post is again a wonderful one. Both the photos and the text are moving. We can feel the tons of love between you and your dogs. Best wishes to all of you from Alsace/France.
Martine

houndstooth said...

Hugs to you! If there's anything we can do, we will be happy to! I went through something very similar and I do understand and feel for you!

Heather and Ellie said...

Autumn is a beautiful time, but when it comes we all know it will end. Max is holding on very strongly. 23 days!
That medicine sounds like such torture for you--I can only imagine how you feel when you have to almost go through Max's passing every night. It's like living on pins and needles....
We all love you Max, you beautiful Golden boy!

Tank said...

What a bittersweet but beautiful description of your current life with this much-loved dog... hoping you have many more days of grace to enjoy with him:)

TA (Tank's Assistant)

Jake of Florida said...

Caryl,

What a gift you have -- the ability to capture these moments in words and make us feel as though we too are holding our breath for those fifteen seconds.

How beautiful your words in the midst of the anguish -- and these miracle days.

With love to you and Max and his doggie clan,

Joan (and Jake and Just Harry)

Kira The BeaWootiful said...

Wooos! Woo made my Mum leak again... but it is a beawootiful leak... such a touching post.
God bless woo!~
-Kira and her Mom

KB said...

Dear Caryl,

You described so well the feelings of a person who loves her dog so deeply and is going through the final journey with him. I've been through it too, and I instantly recognized the feelings that you wrote about. Much, much later, I was able to see how those 'days of grace' had transformed me, and my bond with my dog had grown even deeper during those days. Carpe Diem.

Oh how I wish that I could make you less sad, but I know that I can't. Your attitude is amazing, showing us all what an astoundingly optimistic view of life you have.

Enjoy every minute with your MaxDog, plus your wonderful Tammy, KING Toffee, and Tommy.

I am inspired by you.

BRUTUS said...

Wow. Who'd think that the concept of Autumn could resonate so deeply with you and Max. We continue to be inspired by the bravery you both show us in each post. Yet our hearts ache for you both...

I was fortunate to be at my mother's side in hospice a few years ago, as she gracefully completed her time in this world. So many of your words bring back memories of my time with her - some of the hardest in my life, yet ironically some of my most treasured memories with my mom.

Our wishes for continued peace and acceptance for you all.

Love-
Michelle & Brutus

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

If you take all the sentiments expressed in the khomments above mine - and those to khome - woo will know all I'm feeling -

Once again, another lovely post that khaptures so much of what has made Max, Max; what has made you, you; and what has made WOO the YOU WOO ARE!

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra

Tom, Tama-Chan, Sei-Chan, Yuu-Chan said...

We too were very touched by this beautiful post. Through your words, Max has already made such an impact on all of us. If autumn it must be, let it be a glorious one we will remember always.

Mrs. JP said...

Dear Max's Mom, you have our continued prayers for peace and wisdom during this sad time. Love and hugs to you, Max, Tammy and King Toff!

Samantha said...

We are just back from several days' hiatus from 'puter, from life in general and upon our return this am, continue to remain stunned by your fortitude and extraordinary gift of being so articulate. What a beautiful post - what a beautiful relationship you all have with Max, from the other pups' kinship with Max to your own very intimate and endearing, empowered connection.
With Love and Hugs xoxoxoxo
Sammie and Mom

JC said...

Each day is so precious ^,,^

YD, sometimes with Samantha and June said...

One can and will never be "ready" for "that day". All we can do is to enjoy the moments we have.

YD & the girls

Twinkietinydog said...

Come on, mama, you're doing great so far. The pill that makes Max act so ill is probably what's keeping him well for twenty-three days. Don't let your sadness about tomorrow cast any shadows on your time together now. We love you and we're right here with you Autumn, Spring, Fall and Winter.
Twinkie and family

caboval said...

O....M...D...My heart is so breaking for you and tears are streaming down my face!!!!! Oh my dear MAX!!!!!!!!
Hang in there!!!!! Every moment is so precious!!! We love you!!!!! Warm HUgs, Valerie Joey and Kealani

Shannon said...

I was only introduced to this blog when Max get ill initially. And I have to say that I've been quietly lurking but this tear wrenching post made me stop to say, my heart is with you and your family. Your attitude is inspiring. As someone who has experience in palliative care, the hope is for Max to be pain free and that his eventual passing be comfortable and with those that loved him always.

Jacqueline said...

I really understand the sorrow and joy you feel in each day now with Max; so happy he made another day, so sad you see him slowly slipping away...Life is cruel that way, but you have risen to the occasion with Max and made the most of your time together=that's all you can do...I went through this for about 5-6 weeks with my first baby, Nikki over 5 years ago and losing her broke my heart like nothing else ever has; I held her and we made eye contact during her last breath, I watched the life leave her body=it was such an intimate moment and I felt so honored she shared it with me, truly one of the most precious mements of my life...I was so blessed to be her Mom for 20 years, so I feel close to you through this horrible ordeal I see you and Max going through because I have lived it and know your pain...You are in my heart and my prayers...Blessings to all of you, everyday.

Scout 'n Freyja said...

Silly question, but is Max getting anything from his doctor for the pain? That's one thing that vet's don't often do and that has always bothered me with my own dogs. Now I am an advocate for proper pain control.

Keeping ALL of you cuddled in my heart and close in prayer. Darling Max, you have touched lives around the world. Your immense spirit is teaching all of us so much about so many things.

Scout 'n Freyja said...

Another thought:

Max, I don't know if anyone has said this to you yet but 'if you need to leave us, Max, it's OK. You have always been such a good dog and I know that you never, ever want to hurt your momma or make her cry, but she loves you so much - so much, Max, that she will let you go when you make that choice because the choice to stay or go is YOURS and not ours.'

Love you, honey...

Hi! I'm Sierra-Dog! said...

Oh Max, we love you and are without words at the beauty and honesty that was this post.
You are greatly loved.
Sierra-dog

Anya said...

Lovely post ...
thanks for all sweet words & shots
Max we LOVE you
:-)

Hugs Kareltje & Mommy Anya

sprinkles said...

Your post made me cry for all my pets who have passed over the rainbow bridge, the pets I currently have and the future ones who will. It's so hard to give them up.

My heart breaks for you and for Max. I always hold my breath each day hoping for good news and so far I've gotten it. I dread the day I won't be so lucky. For now, I'm just glad that Max is still enjoying life as evidenced by your pictures!

My little ones sleep in my bed with me. They're very small though and I sleep in a queen size bed so there's plenty of room for the three of us! :)

Tessa the Maltese said...

Sometimes we are just blessed. In this case Max is diffinately, without a doubt BLESSED!

Hugs, Tessa

Ina in Alaska said...

We are sharing with you, Caryl, with our hearts full. Many of us have been in your shoes and all of us with our beloved dogs will be in your shoes. Enjoy every day of grace with your sweet Max. You are doing everything and more that is possible for his peaceful comfort...xoxo

Asta said...

I was feeling my eyes well up and a shiver as I read your words..I felt your anxiety.How hard it must be day after day, but how wonderful that he had another day where he could enjoy the sun on his golden fur and the closeness of you and his furrfamily. His trusting eyes will tell you when it's time, and it will be peaceful and loving like all his life has been. He's a miracle and we love him with all our hearts.
Asta is next to me looking anxious lest i forget that this is her blog and she wants to send Max her love and strength

smoochie kisses
ASTA love
Mommi

Junior and Orion said...

We are sending all of you a gigantic hug. There has been a time or two when one of us is sleeping so deeply that we don't wake when Meowm pets us....and her heart lurches a bit and she feels a bit of panic. Then we stir and she is better......we can only imagine how hard this is for you.

But then we see the pictures and Max is still enjoying every last minute and that warms our hearts.

Joy said...

The tail thumping is so special... unconditional love. God bless.

Clive said...

That was such a beautiful post - so well written.

How you are getting through these days ... we just don't know.

Thinking of you all the time
Clive and the NSLM

The Island Cats said...

Hi Max! You are so brave! And Max's mom, we know this is not easy...but cherish each day...and know that we are thinking of you and purring for you and Max...

Amy and The House of Cats said...

Hi Max and Mom. We are so sad that Max's time is winding down, but so glad you are taking the time to enjoy him as much as possible. We are still sending lots of purrs and prayers for Max to have as many good days as he possibly can!

Jan's Funny Farm said...

What an elegant post. It reminds us of watching our older members leave us over the years. A time when you treasure each moment and watch them breathe. We're so glad you have this time with Max.

TK said...

Thank you for visiting my site Max and Max mom! BTW my real name is Tiny, so very close to your Tinny. We really enjoyed your Ode to Cat poem!
Love TK

Cheyenne -Millie said...

Such a lovely read! Mom gets leaky!

TK said...

Beautiful post. Profound and honest. It is a joyous celebration of life. It breaks my heart that you two are losing each other.
TK's mom

Deborah said...

That was beautiful.
xxoo
Deborah

RILEY AND STAR said...

But a beautiful journal of your love for Max and the journey you are going through.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of these precious days Max.

Love,
Riley and Star.

Sam said...

That is very beautiful. We keep our fingers crossed that you will always have one more day to make memories with Maxdog!

Sam

the booker man said...

we love you, max!!
*huggles*
the booker man and his mama

Olive said...

Each day is beautiful... so wonderful seeing you and Mom.

Love that sunshine Max....

Licks and Tail Wags!!!

Olive :)

Ms. ~K said...

Oh C,
This is a beautiful post!
I feel as if I am right there with you and Max...I am sending hugs to you all.
Kit

PS...
I will try to check in on you each day while I'm in AK!

Kengiboo said...

Hang in there! We're routing for you. Big hugs. Lots of love.

Kengi and his mom

Tweedles -- that's me said...

dear Max
I have never left your side even though you cannot see me. I will sit here with you- until the last lef falls, and then I will gather that treasured leaf and keep in next to my heart forever.
I read your mommys words and I found myself not breathing with each word she said, and then I would take a breath - maybe just like you. I know it feels so good for you when your mommy cuddles to you. Hearts are breaking right now-
we are trying to be strong.
we love you Max. we love your mommy.
I will walk among the stars with you when you are ready.
I will watch that golden leaf cling until that moment- and then you will be gently caught in my paws.
love
tweedles

Piappies World said...

Hi Max,

That's a very touching post. We are happy to share with you each day and do hang in there. We are here for you too and we love you, Max!

-Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar & the Piappies

ocmist said...

Your writing is such beautiful prose that touches all of our hearts and souls. There really is very little I can add to all the touching comments that people have left for you. It was like I could see a picture of Max and you beside him leading a whole army of dogs and their owners that are walking behind you trying to find ways to lift you both and ease the way for you.

You are putting into words the feelings that we all have for those we have loved and still love. I could so relate to hearing a deep breath or sigh and then waiting to hear that next one as I do that a lot with OC now-a-days. I sometimes worry about the pain meds, but know that she would have had to have gone on by now without them. These last hills we climb with them are so hard, but I still cherish every minute as I know you do... Thinking and praying for Max and your family as always. Linda (OC's Mom)

Rocky Creek Scotties and Java said...

The unconditional love you have for each other is so evident in this post. You will know when it's time.

xo
Lynn

mayziegal said...

Hi Max and Mom,

My mom and me have just started blogging. We have been visiting many other blogs, and in almost every one of them, someone mentions dear Max. It is obvious that you are both loved very much. And after reading your blog for the last few days, we can see why. You both embody such strength and unconditional love. We are very honored to have to opportunity to get to know you.

Wiggles & Wags,
Mayzie and her mom

caboval said...

Hmmm having a hard time commenting on your blog! Darn it!!! JOey and Kealani

KT and Lady said...

I'm catching up after being away for awhile. I think about Max everyday. He and Tammy are SO much like Devo and Cosmo (it's spooky). He seems like he is doing very well, and we are thankful for this borrowed time you all have together. Just keep doing what you are doing and love him until the end. God's perfect creature doesn't need nearly as long as us humans to make their mark on this world and in our hearts.

Mochi and Mommy said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing with us!

Mochi