Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Circle of Life - Maxdog knows best

Spring is coming early to the Upper Peninsula. Some, like me, welcome the warmth and the sun. Others, like ice fishermen, see the warmer weather as something to shoo away until another day. For the first time in decades nearly all of the snow has melted. Oh, it might come back another day - and soon - but for now, I'm happy telling myself that winter is gone and spring is here.

In celebration of spring I grabbed my rake, the dogs, something to drink and walked out the door and into my backyard to the leaves from last fall. Leaves that didn't make it into a compost pile before the snow fell. The dogs, contented themselves by taking a sunbath with eyes more or less closed. I say more or less because they consider themselves to be the guards of the yard and as far as their eyes can see.

Just as I was about to come into the house for a little break I noticed the tree  branches my son had cut off an interloping tree near my house. There they were, a tangled mess leaning on the fence and against the garage. I walked over intending to drag them to the side-yard so Jeff could load them in his truck and haul them off. But something caught my eye and stopped me short.

Branches that were cut at the end of last summer were sprouting buds - new life. No roots, no soil, no care and there they were - optimistically bringing new life into the world. My son and I may have decided that they should be cut from the safety of their food source and tossed aside, but those branches had a different idea and plan. They weren't going to whither and die quietly - with no ceremony - without producing leaves and celebrating spring for their last time.

Why am I blogging to you about those dying branches that refused to let go of life? Because those tangled cuttings remind me of Maxdog in South Africa and the journey that he and his family are now experiencing.

Months ago Maxmom was told that her beloved friend would die soon. She was informed that there was no help for dear Max that modern medicine could provide. Despondent, she went home with Max, the dog who had been at her side for ten years. A friend that never left her side through thick or through thin - in dark and light and in joy and sadness. Maxmom was determined that her beloved companion should have a good quality of life regardless of how long that life would go on. Like the branches in my yard, Max's time on earth was drawing to a close.

But like those branches, Max didn't realize that he was supposed to be sad and that he should just give up and "let go". So, the following morning Max woke up and faced his day the best he could with the body he had and made the best of his day - not asking for more, just that day. One paw in front of the other - that's how Max had always lived his life and that is how Max would live his life going forward. Max and my branches are tenacious. Why give up when there was life to live?

Things are getting rough for Max. His appetite comes and goes and sometimes he just doesn't feel like his old self, but that's OK with Max. After all, there are walks to walk and balls to catch and cuddling to get and when he can he enjoys them all. The branches in my yard felt winter's snow fall without the comfort of their familiar roots to remind them that they were a part of something larger than themselves but they, too endured, one day after the next. Both Max and the branches were consistent and content with what life presented to them as a gift each day.

With an early Spring in Michigan the lonely branches left to die began to do what they always did best - celebrate life and create new life. Little buds began to form within the recesses of the branches and with the warmth of the sun - one by one they began to peek out into the big world. Each day when Max wakes up Maxmom observes that it is a bit more difficult for him to maneuver through his day. His appetite comes and goes and he sleeps more soundly - often causing Maxmom distress. But when Max is out in the sun - he beams and Maxmom sees the dog she has loved and known for years blossom once again. The warmth of the sun can be a powerful elixir - even when the Circle of Life may be calling in the distance.

Both the branches and dear Max face each day with optimism and with hope and with courage. Neither knows what the next day will hold so they do what they do best - they LIVE in the here and now. And, they do that living without complaint or sorrow or worry. They take the day given to them. They don't look back and they don't look forward - THEY LIVE in the moment - knowing that is all any of us can possess.

Sadly, both Max and the cut branches are running out of time. Every living thing is born with an internal clock that begins to tick from the moment of creation. None of us knows when our time will run out, but as human beings, we do know that it will - and that is not to our liking. But, Max and the cut branches don't know that life has a limit.  All they know is the here and the now and they live in the here and now and they leave tomorrow to take care of itself.

One day the branches in my yard will be rendered into smaller pieces and taken away. There will be no remnants of their existence left. One day our darling Max will leave this earth journeying into the heavens - fulfilling his destiny with The Circle of Life. However, Max, being a living, breathing, warm and loving creature of the Divine will leave much behind.

His family will mourn deeply as they work through their grief. They will wake in the morning and be forced to travel throughout their day without the physical Max following along. In the distance they will hear a familiar jingle of collar tags and look around expecting to see Max at their heels. Over time the empty space Max leaves in their lives will fill with happy memories - memories of the bond that grew between a family and the pup they brought home so long ago. Not one of us exits this earth leaving nothing behind and Max has much to leave.

One day Max's family will see what he saw and they will know what Max knew. They will know that the Circle of Life is not something to fear or to cower from in your dreams. The Circle of Life should be as welcome an experience as our next breath. After all, it is the Circle of Life that leads the way to make room for new beginnings and new days and new loves to cherish.

Yes, we can learn much from our companions on paws. They live in dignity. They hold no grudge. They enjoy each moment. They embrace each kindness. And, like Max, they live in the now. I you Max from the top of my head all the way down to my toes. You have made an impact on my life that I will never forget.

National Canine Cancer Foundation


Ms. ~K said...

This is absolutely beautiful...
With big tears rolling down my cheeks,

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said... mom is doing the same thing as the nice Kit lady -

Max has touched so many -
And united an entire universe of hearts -

Thanks fur this inkhredible post which khontains so much wisdom and so many lessons fur all!

Khyra & Khousin Merdie

Sierra Rose said...

Yes! Sweet Max, living every day. Continuing to bring joy to his family and all of us around the world. His BIG LOVE grows.

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

MAX said...

Dearest Mimi

I am speechless with the absolute beauty of the love you have shared on this post today! My tears can't stop. You have touched me deeply with your incredible wisdom, sincerity and love...Thank you!

You are the quiet giving person, always in the background - don't I know from all the help you have given me behind the scenes with Maxdog's blog! For this too, I am eternally grateful.

In the days to come, I will be reading this post over and over, drawing from it as the gift it is intended to be!

You have an incredible heart, so much to give and I am deeply thankful and humbled that some of it has come my way ...Thank you!

Maybe the miracle of today is this...that the things we regard as 'done and dusted' are only just beginning to find their real purpose! What awe is there in that!

Thank you again, dear friend, for this incredible post!

With much love
(and licks from Maxdog!)

Morgan in Pittsburgh said...

I need to go hug my dogs...

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

What a beautiful, beautiful post.

Martha and Bailey said...

A lovely post and you are so right that we dogs know nothing of this life and death business.
Therefore there is no fear, nothing to worry about. We are secure surrounded by the love of our families and when it is time to go we simply fall into a contented sleep.

Maggie and Mitch said...

What an incredibly beautiful post! Thank you!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Gail in Aberdeen said...

I just came over from Max's blog. You write so beautifully about the circle of life. I lost my dear wee Westie Hamish nearly a month ago, and am slowly adjusting to his absence. To the end, he faced each day with optimism. We can learn so much from our loving and beloved dogs. Especially from Max in South Africa, who is so deservedly adored worldwide.

The Thundering Herd said...

What a beautiful, inspired post. We check Max's post every day and are so thrilled to see him continue to just enjoy life - for today. You have said that so eloquently.

MurphyDog said...

I don't think I have read a more beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing this amazing perspective on the circle of life. Even though miles and miles away, Maxdog has become an inspiration for living for the moment, as you put it so eloquently.

Murphydog's Mom

Chester said...

Absolutely wonderful way of expressing what the gift and circle of life is. The buds on the branches were a great example.

This is a wonderful gift to a long distance friend.
Chester's Mom ;0=)

kks said...

wow, such a beautiful heartfelt and true.....

SGR said...

Woof! Woof! LOVELY n very touching post. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Ginger Jasper said...

That is the most moving post. I have read it twice and just cant believe how you have put all the right things and in such a lovely way to sum up what is indeed a circle of life and a circle of love.. Beautiful, moving post and a beautiful tribute to our lovely Max.. Love GJ and Carol xx

Madi and Mom said...

God Bless you for this beautiful post and tribute to not just our DEAR MAX and his Mom but to all pets great and small and what they teach us.
Madi and Mom

Ludo van Doggy said...

This is such a beautiful post, you have such a wonderful way with words. Thank you for making this. It's a good reminder to me.
~Dee, Ludo's Mum.

Tucker, Daisy and Leo said...

What a beautiful tribute to Maxdog, spring, life and all the dogs we love so much. You have a real way with words.

Tucker, Daisy and mom Heidi

Kira The BeaWootiful said...

Wooos! We came over from MaxDog... so beautiful we are speechless....
~puppy kisses~
-Kira The BeaWootiful

Cocorue said...

thankQ for this wonderful and heartfelt brought tears to my eyes. you have such a gift for words but that alone will not have touched us without your sincerity and thoughtfulness.

i will cherish this and keep your wisdom nearby to revisit when the need arises, thank you again


MySpecialDoggies said...

What a beautiful post - thank you for sharing.
Greetings from Philadelphia,
Nadine, rescue doggie Apples & golden Neeli

KB said...

Your post touched me deeply. A beautiful analogy allowed you to remind me of a deep and important lesson. But, it's not an easy lesson. Tears roll down my face for Maxdog and his family's journey - and in memory of the journeys that I've had with my dogs...

Thank you.

Ina in Alaska said...

Streaming a flood of tears into my morning coffee. What a beautiful way to express Max' inevitable journey and the heartbreak for us humans left behind. Max has touched many hearts and will continue to unite all of us in our love for our furry companions and dear sweet Max. Thank you so much for this gorgeous post and I hope you have a wonderful day today. xoxo

Teddy Bear said...

What a beautiful tribute to Max. We are praying for him.

Teddy Bear

P.S. Teddy Bear loves the cold weather and snow. Sierra prefers the warmer weather.:)

Jacqueline said...

This is a beautiful tribute to Max and a lovely lesson to anyone who has lost a loved one; your words made me cry, thank you for sharing.

Sheila and Bob said...

We have been following Max for some time. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of love we have ever read, Words fail us, but to you , to Max and to Max's Mom God Bless You All.

Sheila & Bob,
Mom & Dad to
Hamish & Rescue Sophie

Jerri said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have written some beautiful reminders for us humans too!

Jerri (a fellow UPPER) and her five canines, Tara, Sonny, Cheeto, Abby and Mighty Max........

The Bumpass Hounds said...

Dear Ms. Mimi,
This is perhaps the most heartfelt post that we have ever read. Maxmom said it best in her comment. Max Dog has indeed become, for whatever reason or circumstance, a worldwide influence and example. None of us who feel so strongly about him and his family have been able to come close to a better way of expressing those feelings as you have. Our dad says that he will be reading this post many, many times over. Thank you, oh so much, for letting Maxmom know how much her beloved Max Dog has influenced the lives of so many others around the world. We all live within The Circle of Life; we each have our numbered days to share with those we love before we move along the arc of the circle. We hope that we can emulate the way max has shared his love and wisdom with us all.
- TBH&K (+ mom and dad)

Bandit's Pack said...

What a lovely post. ♥

Draco and his Mom said...

Beautiful Post...I came over from Max's blog. Made me teary eyed and opened my heart.

Jan's Funny Farm said...

What a lovely but teary post. In reading the comments, we notice it has touched all that are reading it, including MaxMom.

TK said...

I too came from Max's.
I want to thank you for the clarity of a message of a life simply lived. Thank you for sharing the talent that lets you so beautifully express that message.

Now I'm going to wipe my eyes, blow my nose and love my moment in time!

Simba said...

Thank you. You have put into words something we all need to realize. As you say, we can learn much from our friends with paws and fur. But the connection to the branch starting to bud really got to my Mom.

Jake of Florida said...

Like so many others who have commented, we too came at Caryl's recommendation from Max' blog. But when we got here, we remembered the first time we discovered your blog a few months ago -- and told you how it had touched us.

Now we have been touched again by your poignant reminder of how much we can learn about the circle of life from Max and Maxmom -- and too from emulating each of our own dear dogs.

Thank you, Mimi!

Jake and Just Harry and our mom, Joan

~Kim~ said...

As you know, we just lost our sweet senior Golden Cowboy that we'd had for 2 years...This post has expressed the words that are in my soul but I'm not quite able to say--Thank-you for a lovely and very touching post!!

Alex93andme said...

That is the most touching beautiful post I think I have ever read. I cannot quit crying. I'll be back to read it again. It's absolutely beautiful. Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

Twinkietinydog said...

Yes, dignity is an important word when talking about Max and his family. As for the way he's touched us all, we're grateful. Your post was beautiful and inspirational. Thank you.

The Island Cats said...

Beautiful, touching post! Maxdog has made such an impact on so many...

The Life of Riley said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for your words and photos, and for taking the time to write this. Maxdog has connected and touched so many people around the world who care deeply about him and his family as they travel through this stage in his life. The way you have written about Max and the circle of life is so beautiful.


kissa-bull said...

hewo there
the pittie pack here
we saw your link ofur at maxdog's bloggy and came ofur to say howdy
we did'nt expect mommish to be sniffling and nose droolin and eyes leaking at the end of it all
she weally luved your post so much and it reminds her of our brofur chico who went to the rainbow bridge last year and she still cant quite cope wiff it
she wants you to know that your words are so bewootiful and touch her dearly
pibble sugars
the pittie pack
wanna be furryends???

Anna the GSD said...

That was beautiful! It's amazing to know that Mr. Max has touched so many lives and will always live on in our hearts and memories! He's an inspiration to pups everywhere! Wonderful post!

Mrs. JP said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you so much.
It's amazing, like you said, how our friends on four paws live each day in the moment and with all they have. We have a German Shep, Daisy, that doesn't know or care that she walks with a limp because of hip surgery. It's all good to her and she lives to do her job.
I really like "Living to Love" because that's what dogs do. Thanks, thanks, and ever thanks.
Blessings to you from the holler. We're gonna follow you :O)

Mrs. JP said...

Also, thanks for the information on War Dogs. Our son has been and is now in "the sand box." His group has had several doggie pals who have made this difficult time more manageable.

Anonymous said...

My momma's eyes were very much leaky reading this. But we both thought it was so very beautiful and the loveliest of tributes to a Most Great dog and his Most Wonderful momma.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Grateful Wiggles & Wags,

Sagira said...

Sad that we didn't know Max. We sure do see a lot of furpals write about him.

Ruby's Raiser said...

You've touched all of us with the depth and kindness of your words, I can only imagine the peace and love Max and his family felt when they read this post. What a beautiful tribute.

the booker man said...

i came over here from mr. max's bloggie. what a beautiful post for such a special guy!
the booker man

Sam said...

Add me to the list of people with tears in their eyes. That is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read, really. Wow. Such a powerful and true analogy. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing this post.

Sue said...

Thank you. You said it beautifully.

Cloud the Wonder Dog said...

Typing through tears. What a beautiful post!!!

Cloud and his mom

Lorenza said...

We are speechless... just want to say...
Thanks for sharing it!
Kisses and hugs

Dennis the Vizsla said...

This is a great post. This should be required reading for anyone going through this, be it with a dog, a loved human, or themselves.

Life With Dogs said...

Wow did you tug at all of our heartstrings today. Beautifully written!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Everytime I come here, I feel love.
And once again your heart is pouring out words in tribute to OUR beloved friend Max ,and his family. Your love pours out in your words for all of us to read. You touched us all with words and love that we can feel inside our hearts.
Mimi,our eyes are raining tears- because we feel what you say.
You are so right about the circle of life. I know you stuggle along with us. as we keep in remembering to keep in perspective how to live our lives like MaxDog, and to live for the moment.
Your feelings and words have touched us.

The OP Pack said...

We are a day late in getting here but we are so glad we made it. What a wonderful post - you brought tears to our eyes with your special words. Max is an inspiration to us all - take all you can from what life you have and enjoy it to its "max". Thank you for putting it so very well.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Samantha said...

I am about to go out for a walk with Sammie now, but I can't stop these tears - what a writer you are - pure beauty in this prose - and the hardest thing of all to write: truth. I love Max and his mom too - they have walked the road of this journey bravely - as you say - one day, one hour, one moment at a time. And it's hard to live in the present - we try daily, but sometimes get stuck. Max has been an incredible example of the way to it - thank you Max and mom, and thank you so, so much Mimi. Leak, leak,leak. Hugs to Scout and Frejya xoxoxoxoxo
Sammie and Mom

Ben said...

I bark a lot - and have nothin' to add - you said it all. There is somethin' so beautifully simple about the love of an animal and the ability of a person to embrace it.
Thank you