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My Friend Max: Losing a Pet is Never Easy

When you grow up with your dog being one of your best friends, it can be difficult to say goodbye when they grow old, but you can rest assured the memories you have made together will last forever.

Photo by Anika Conley

In this letter about pets who have passed away there is reference to Rainbow Bridge, a fictitious wonderful place where our beloved pets go after they have died. When my dog Max died, his veterinarian sent us this comforting note.

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On Christmas morning 2001, I woke up from my warm bed to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking.

I peaked out my window to see a blanket of snow layered over the grass and pavement, making everything seem angelic, white and perfect.

I went into the living room where I placed Santa’s cookies and milk, and to my surprise there was nothing left.

I then ran downstairs to see what Santa had brought me for Christmas because I knew for a fact that I had been a good girl all year.

Ripping through all of the wrapping paper, I smiled in excitement when I found out I had gotten everything on my list, until I looked around and saw Santa had forgotten one important gift. With my head down, I told my mom he forgot to bring the puppy I had specifically asked him for.

Suddenly, as the sound of bells and scratching emerged from a distance, I began to look around in confusion.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fluffy white puppy dog running toward me in full speed.

His collar laced with a big red bow and two dangling jingle bells, I picked him up laughing with joy.

I was 8 years old on this special Christmas morning, and to this day I will always remember that moment.

I named my new friend Max, which seemed fitting because at that age every book I read or movie I watched the dog was always named “Max.” My particular Max was a white miniature schnauzer full of energy and personality.

One weird fact about Max that I remember was he would not eat his food unless it was drenched in milk and became super soggy, until he was about 2 years old. I have no clue why my mom kept feeding his addiction but he would literally starve until he had his deliciously mushy mess.

Max’s personality was on the strange side, but he was very protective of me, so he would constantly bark at strangers or anyone trying to get in between us.

Friends and family weren’t fond of Max because of this, so whenever someone would try to pet him, they knew right away this wasn’t happening from the deep angry noises that would emerge from him.

Despite this public appearance, Max was actually a happy-go-lucky type of dog, with no fear and no worries.

He was always ready to explore, maybe a little too much, as he tended to break away and run in the woods.

I would cry thinking I had lost him, but he always came back, sitting on the front porch scratching at the door.

Years passed and Max had become noticeably old when all he wanted to do was sleep and eat. We had him from birth, which meant we had him for about 20 years. In dog years he was pushing 115 years old.

As Max got older, he had been diagnosed with arthritis, memory loss, which was basically Alzheimer’s for dogs, and he also had a tumor in his heart.

The vet said we could put him down, but he wasn’t in any pain so we decided not to put my friend to rest just yet.

As the years pass, Max worsened to the point where he wouldn’t move, eat or anything.

I thought to myself, “It’s time for my friend to have some relief,” which hurt my heart to even think about. I had Max for the majority of my life, elementary school through college. He was all I knew.

Putting him down was hard but I knew it was the right thing to do. My vet sent me his collar and a letter on the day that we put him down.

The letter read, ”When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.”

“All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remembered them in our dreams of days and times gone by.”

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Anika Conley

Anika Conley

Anika Conley is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. Anika is majoring in communications studies. She is currently working for her family’s business PSRI Technologies located in St. Louis. After graduation she plans on moving to the West Coast to pursue her career in communications.

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