Twelve years ago my husband brought a puppy home in a box. He had stopped to visit a family in his senatorial district who operated a hog farm and as God's timing would have it, the cutest litter of border collie pups had just been weaned and David was kindly offered the pick of the litter.
We had four children under age six at the time(and one on the way) the last thing I needed was a puppy to train, but too late, we lost our hearts to the adorable ball of black fluff with the white markings which made him look like a tiny skunk.
Two thousand dollars worth of training later he was obeying me as the alpha dog- translation: the primary care giver while my husband was away four days a week making laws. That is, he obeyed when I was looking.
Well, you can take the dog away from the farm but you can't take the farm out of the dog, and if Max had a theme song, it would have been "The Wanderer". He loved to explore and his adventures brought him to the pound on at least two occasions. Max taught me the importance of name tags and proper ID at all times. The dog officers loved Max and he was given the run of the place until I wearily came to pick him up and pay the fine. The chief officer even offered to adopt him. I often wondered if I had made a mistake in not letting go of the dog whose middle name was trouble when the opportunity arose.
But I couldn't.
Yesterday Sam and Jon-now fifteen, and Joshua eleven, were outside playing basketball and Max decided to wander off one last time. He strolled down our street and around the corner. A neighbor called to let us know he was there and the boys went to retrieve him. But this time he couldn't make it home. His heart was failing.
David and I rushed him to the veterinary clinic and waited. The doctor said it wasn't good, that Max seemed to be indicating that he'd had enough.
This time I had to let him go.