Max, our adopted maltese/poodle, died today; he was struck down by a car in front of our home.
The Reith Family has lost one of its members.
My wife Eva came home with Max one day after what was to be a simple shopping trip at Pathmark. She was approached by a lady who could not take care of the little puppy.
When Eva presented him to me for the first time he was a scruffy unkempt dog with fleas and a matted dirty coat. After giving him the full bath and combing treatment we saw there was more to him than met the eye on first inspection. It turned out he had a pearly white coat, once cleaned. He even walked with a regal gait. A very fine specimen of a dog and cute in a dog-like way.
He was three months old. Very active. The puppy loved playing and biting everything. A real boy dog!
Immediately it was apparent that he did not take well to commands.
He was not housebroken and it took months and a lot of patience before he finally learned to do his business outside.
He was filled with anxiety and had a definite stubborn streak.
It was our custom to let our dogs run outside in our backyard from time to time without a leash. Max had, on more than a few occasions, ran out to the front of the house. He had found a hole in the fence of our yard and exploited it to run in the adjacent yards behind my backyard.
Our neighbors complained of seeing him prancing up the street.
When I would go to get him he would rarely listen to my commands. He would just prance away from me.
Seeming to revel in my inability to catch him. He would traverse the block before he would finally enter back into the yard.
I warned my wife and kids that one day he would get hit by a car. There is a lot of traffic on our street.
The last few months of Max’s life saw a big change in his personality.
He had been able to finally rid himself of much of the restless anxiety that characterized his first few months with us.
He had relaxed knowing that he was in a loving family.
He loved playing with our female dog, Millie, a bit older than he. Inexplicably, he developed a close relationship with our cat Kittums, too. They would rassle for hours in the mornings and then lie down next to each other after tiring out from their battles.
Max and Kittums always followed me each morning after I awoke. They would follow me down to the kitchen as I went to prepare coffee and breakfast. Knowing that I would prepare their meals as well.
He had really developed a close relationship with I. Following me wherever I went up and down the stairs. He always wanted to be with me.
He even seemed to be listening to commands better. He was learning.
Max was hit by a car today.
When I got to him his body was lifeless in the street.
We rushed him to the animal hospital.
He died in my arms along the way as we were driving. His little face looking up into my eyes. Just like my previous dog Mindy did when I was a teenager. The doctor said he had sustained massive chest injuries from the accident.
Somehow, I cannot shake the feeling that I had failed him.
Max died today. As I sat in the animal hospital in Flatbush awaiting the forms for his body to be cremated.
The realization came upon me that I knew this day would happen.
The combination of my allowing my dogs to run free in my backyard and Max wanting to do things his way in the end was a lethal one.
He had been learning but we had run out of time.
I will forever miss my little Max. And the memories that could have been that were so suddenly struck down on this chilly April 2nd, 2015 evening.