Most people who know us know we lost our beloved Max on June 16th. He was an adopted dog, we found him at a local shelter on October 5, 2007 and let me tell you - I have never loved a dog like I loved Max. He was gorgeous, a Rottweiler and German Shepherd mix (or at least that was what the shelter vet said) with the Rott coloring and a Sheperd face and a gorgeous, gorgeous plume tail.
Max was the type of dog I found incredibly easy to spoil. To his detriment, I know but I literally could not help myself - once I decided I was choosing to not help myself. He would get up with me every morning and I would make him sit for his cookie and then open his door and as soon as he finished that cookie he was off touring his kingdom. He'd even sit on the back step so he could, as we always called it, "survey his kingdom." He had a thick, beautiful coat of fur and the sweetest demeanor I had ever known. Well...as long as he was dealing with people. If he was dealing with other dogs, killing them was the only thing on his mind. We had to keep him away from other animals, always. He also managed to protect his home turf a few times in the years he lived with us and every neighbor knew to keep their dog away from ours.
Then, he got sick and we had to put him down. We were devastated. Just...devastated. Nothing has torn our hearts apart so deeply as having to make that decision for such an incredible friend. I even commented it was almost harder than losing my mother and I've written several times as to how hard THAT has been. Besides the obvious differences, though, I didn't have to decide to put my mother down. I think THAT was the harder part between the two situations and it really didn't matter at the time that it was the absolute best decision for Max.
So - there we were. No one barking a greeting to us, jumping in excitement as we came through the front door. No one sauntering through the front yard with that confident assuredness that all was right with the world but he was prepared to take out anything that might want to make it "wrong." No one tearing through his dog door to get to the squirrels outside, claws clacking across the kitchen floor...
The house was too quiet.
That was all there was to it. We needed a dog. We needed a dog to keep us anchored to the house because otherwise? It's just a place to sleep. Don't get me wrong - we have friends over all the time, we have family over, we definitely live in our home but having a dog there while we're gone, someone to come home to? That made it WORTH coming back home. It meant if we were going to go out of town, it had better be worth it because if we couldn't take Max, we probably wouldn't go.
So we started looking online. Shelter after shelter posting pictures of available dogs. And one would pop up and we'd "ooooh" and "aahhhh" and say "Now THAT is a good-lookin' dawg." And after several weeks of that, we decided to visit the same shelter where we found Max. The first week we went home empty-handed. There were a couple of dogs we were interested in but one of them had been in a shelter his entire two years of life and had started resource guarding and he had bit a couple of the staff and volunteers at the shelter so he was ineligible for adoption. That just breaks my heart. If you could see this dog... How anyone could walk by his cage and not choose him? I did not understand... I still don't.
There was another one who caught my husband's eye. He was a white Shepherd/Siberian Husky mix and we were pretty sure there was some wolf in there, too. He. was. gorgeous.
But...like Shep, he had behavioral issues and they sent him to live at a shelter that specializes in his type of dog, acclimating him to their pack.
Then there was Joe. I had spotted him our first week but we spent so much time talking about the other two that we never had a chance to bring him up. Until yesterday. Back to N.O.A.H. we went, to see who was new and see who we might consider and no one caught our eye. Except Joe... And the staff up there spent about 4 hours trying to make sure we were the right family for this dog. He has some cattle dog in him, that's pretty sure, but they listed him as a shepherd mix, too. And he is stinkin' smart. He's not at all furry like Max but he's whip-like strong. His thighs are massive for a dog his size. He's just beautiful.
But we're not letting that sweet fool us. He'll run the house if we do. We're working immediately on the ground rules and we've made all sorts of changes from Max. Obedience classes are going to be coming up pretty quick, too. We're not messing around.
Look at this face....
Can you see why we have to be strict from the get-go? I mean...how does that face not melt your heart?
How I love being a dog family... He's not Max and that's good. He's Joe and he's home. I hope for a very, very long time.