When the dogs and I were heading out on our walk today, I had a chat with John, a friend from down the road.
Last year I walked his two dogs for a while along with the lurchers. There was Max, a beautiful and very large American Mastiff, and Homer, an endearing, if somewhat pugnacious Staffordshire Terrier.
John had been concerned about Max's weight but was unable to get him on long walks. He knew I used to be out for about an hour with my dogs, so he thought I might challenge him.
It went well; I showed Max that I meant business and he loved Denton Dene. Homer had a couple of scraps with Amazon before conceding that she was the boss. We became a familiar sight to the residents of Denton Burn; there aren't many people who would walk four such willful dogs. Rover and Amazon would be pulling to be ahead, Max would be dragging his feet behind, and Homer would range between the two positions sniffing everything and leaving his mark everywhere. I think that it was good for Rover to be around them, because he learned how to be a boy dog during that time.
I stopped walking them when I started teacher training in September, so I lost touch apart from the occasional sighting Max was always pleased to see me if he was in the yard, standing up and saying hello. I knew that something was wrong about a month ago when he struggled to rise. John said that he had fallen out of the back of his car and had not recovered well.
Two weeks ago I got a call from John asking if I could bring my trailer round because he couldn't get Max in the car to get him to the vets. Unfortunately we had just sold the trailer, so I was unable to help. He said that things did not look good, that he thought this was it.
So when I saw him today, it was no great surprise that there was just Homer with him. Max had cancer in his chest and shoulder and it was just too much for him to get up, so John sadly agreed to let him be put to sleep.
I know how much John loved his big friend and I know it has been hard for him to get over his death. I will certainly miss the big fella, and will cherish the memory of our walks together, however frustrating it may have been to keep the old guy moving. As you can see from the pictures, he loved to have a wallow in the water when the Dene ponds were full. He would stick his face into the water and blow out bubbles, then bring his head up, snort for a while, then do it all over again.
Goodbye Max, old friend.