Hello everyone.

I am new here and have been reading some of your stories of love and loss. I can barely get thru them without falling apart. 

I want to tell you the story of Max. 

Nine years ago a friend of my daughter had a litter of 3 shih tzu puppies. When she brought the male over to us I instantly fell in love with him.

As time went on Max became very ill as it turns out he had a liver shunt, something I had never heard of, and probably most have not. What it means is that the main artery leading to his liver is bypassed by another artery so the liver is not filtering any blood. This means that Max was slowly being poisoned by his own blood.

We took Max to the Veterinary college in Athens Ga where the doctors put in an ameroid constrictor, a ring that slowly closes off the shunt and diverts blood to the liver to be processed.

After 3 days we were able to go pick up Max. In the exam room as he lay on the table I put my arms around him to form a circle so he wouldn't fall off the table. He laid there for about 20 seconds or so as if he didn't know me, then he looked up at my face and suddenly began kissing  my arm incessently for 15 minutes while my wife took care of the bill. He could not kiss me enough.

When Max got home I put him down on the front yard and I said " Your home now Max this is YOUR yard. :)

We live in a rural area and there is a farm next to us. Max had stitches from his throat to his privates and despite this when he saw a donkey in our back yard he ran back there and circled the donkey repeatedly barking until the donkey mosied out of our yard. Max had a lion heart.

I am disabled with a bad heart, and I have my bad days and my badder days. Max would sleep on my chest or on my lap. He would never leave me. It didn't matter where you were what you were doing he was always at my side.

Max was the smartest most sentient animal I have ever seen. He had about a 30 word vocabulary where he would understand completely what I was saying and could communicate back by doing a silent alert sit to show me what he wanted. He could also problem solve.

He helped me through many tough nights where I didn't know if I could make it through by simply being Max and jumping up on my lap and comforting me. I would often look over at him as he sat in our window guarding the house and say " Max, I don't feel so good buddy" and he would put a sad concerned look on his face and come over and lay by my feet or put his head on my knee.

I could go on and on with the stories of how this little perfect soul who only wanted to love us made our lives better every day. It went beyond being easy to love him it was fun to love him.

I used to say to him "Max, I won't enter heaven without you buddy" and I meant it. I thought with my health and his age that we would probably both be leaving together.

We have been here 20 years and have been tying Max out to his tree on his run to do his business for 9 years. Last Thursday was no exception. We brought Max to his tree at 11:00 am and I sent my son out to bring him in at 11:45.

My son found our beloved Max mauled by a Coyote. He was about 10 feet from the end of his run out of his collar as the Coyote tried to take him away. We were only minutes maybe seconds late as he was still warm. We rushed him to the vet only 1/2 mile away and it was too late.

The vet, police and the animal control officer said it was a large dog or Coyote, but I know it was a Coyote because of the wounds and no dog drags his victim away with him.

So, for the past two days my family and I are in excruciating unconsoleable sorrow.

I have dealt with death many times before, in fact way too many and I can honestly say that I have never felt so empty and brokenhearted. We all feel that way.

There is a colossal emptiness in our home that is deafening and there is no escaping it for any of us.

I do have something that perhaps I can offer those who are experiencing guilt over the loss of their pet.

During the past two days all of us here had their own version of blaming themselves for this tragedy. My son said "If I only put my shoes on faster, maybe I would have been there in time. My wife said " If I put him out later maybe it would not have happened. I said maybe if I wasn't busy that morning He may have went out later and it would not have happened.

The fact is that none of us had a crystal ball. We all were only doing what we had done hundreds of times by letting Max enjoy the sun and birds and do his business. In reality there is no guilt to have or to be justified.

So then it begs the question why did we feel repeatedly compelled to feel guilt?
Then it dawned on me. The other half of the equation is " WHY" "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO OUR SWEET LITTLE MAX" and the overwhelming feeling of how unfair it was.

It seems to me that if we allow ourselves to take ownership of false guilt then the "Why did this happen" goes away because now there is a reason. It was because I did something wrong, and acceptance of false guilt also takes away some of the unfairness of the tragedy. At least that is what it seems to be to me. A kind of trade off of two bad things for one bad thing.

I truly hope that may help anyone dealing with false guilt.

I hope I have not burdened anyone with this entry but I wanted Max's story to be told.

I want Max's death to mean something so We will be sending out flyers to our neighbors to warn them as 90% of our homes back up to forest. I will be contacting Fox 5 news and beseech them to do a story about the threat of Coyotes to residential areas n Georgia. We also intend to meet with the commissioners of the animal control board in our home county to urge them to set traps and put out an advisory to the public. Failing that we will distribute flyers and are looking to hire a trapper as well to protect the homes here if the people who own the forest will allow it.

Max you are my best friend, you will always be my best friend and I will keep my promise. " I will not enter heaven without you."

Thank you all and God bless you and the precious little souls that God in his infinite mercy gave to us to teach us the meaning of agape love.

Dennis & Ann LeFave
Andy & Chris


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Dennis and your family----------I just don't have adequate words to let you know how sorry I am for what you are going through.  the sadness of losing a beloved pet is indescribable as you will find out if you spend much time on this site. 

What I can tell you for certain is that you came to the right place where all of us are hurting and managing no matter what the circumstances to find a way to blame ourselves.  Also here, you are  free to express your feelings, no matter what they are and no one will judge you no matter what. 

What a precious little one you had and the loss in unbearable I know.  I too am not very healthy and my Molly was by my side 24/7 and a comfort to me that is impossible to explain as is her loss.  She too had a very extensive vocabulary because I talked to her ALL the time.  I wish I could assure you that this grief will pass soon, but I can't honestly do that.  The fact that you have a family and especially children still at home will help some and is better than being all alone with this bottomless grief.

People on this site have described it better than I could that we get these "once in a lifetime" pets even though we LOVE them all AND that the grief "comes sometimes in gentle waves and sometimes hits like a Tsunami" -----both are so very true.

I and sending all of you hugs and understanding and wishing you find peace soon.  Please be ASSURED that you WILL be reunited with your baby someday, just not soon enough for most of us.
!cid_DF52C02781564D04BF9E36116164D7DA@Carl.jpg  sitting up.JPG
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I am so sorry for your loss:(  Hugs and kisses..
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So sorry about your darling Max, he sounds wonderful. It clearly wasn't anyone's fault but an extremely tragic part of nature. Bless you and your family at this heartbreaking time, nothing can help I know, we just have to try and survive through the excruciating pain and emptiness my friend. X
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Dennis, I was also told that my little Shih-tzu girl might have a liver shunt, although I never fully understood what it meant until I read your post.  It was discovered in February 2015 during her dental work-up and the lab results showed a high liver enzyme level.  The vet put her on Marin which I guess is supposedly managing her levels. 

You folks went through a lot of worry with the major surgery Max underwent and he must have been thrilled beyond "words" when he saw you coming to take him back home!  Honestly, can you imagine what he would have said if he could have talked? 

Coyotes???  Your poor little dog and what an awful experience for all of you!!  What a terrible loss you and your family are going through but to convert that pain and sorrow into positive actions that could help others is really and truly admirable.  I had to put down my 13-year-old Shih-tzu Sony 13 years ago due to kidney failure.  My other 13-year-old Shih-tzu Chibi was just laid to rest last December, too.  I love Shih-tzus and know that they're intelligent, clever and loving dogs. 

Take care of your hearts and know that we all feel your loss.

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dennis and family, i'm sorry to read of the loss of your beautiful little max and I know how much a fur-baby helps when we are sick ourselves.  I lost my service dog roxie the day after Christmas and tonight is 9 weeks without her by my side - she was my "Velcro girl".  please allow yourselves the knowledge that what happened to sweet max was a tragic accident and none of you are at fault.  we all seem to beat ourselves up with guilt after the loss of our loved friends - I did it myself in that I had convinced myself I should have seen roxie hurting; I should have done this or that.  in the end I came to the conclusion after reading Marianne soucy's book "healing pet loss" that I did all humanly possible that I could have; the vet did all humanly possible that he could have and that as roxie herself told the pet medium...I think it was just my time to pass and in the end things came together the way they were supposed to.  I have no doubt that little max never once thought his loved family did any wrong and that his spirit is still around you all sending you his light and love as he always did.  once your grief lifts a wee bit you might feel him, smell his scent or sense his presence around you still.  once I was able to start smiling at memories of my roxie I began to catch shadow movements at her height around the kitchen corner, the hall, have heard her bark once and always talk to her as I did (ya and I give the air belly and butt rubs as if she were belly up on "her couch" or turned to me for a butt rub).  many many hugs to all of you and we're here for all of you.
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Dennis wrote:
 In the exam room as he lay on the table I put my arms around him to form a circle so he wouldn't fall off the table. He laid there for about 20 seconds or so as if he didn't know me, then he looked up at my face and suddenly began kissing  my arm incessantly for 15 minutes while my wife took care of the bill. He could not kiss me enough.

Dear Dennis and Family, and Max,

When I read that particular paragraph in your eloquently written story of Max's life, it was as though I knew right there what a loving, devoted, caring and protective person you are, and that you would have moved heaven and earth for Max.  Of course he could not kiss you enough that day, he loved you, he knew you were the most important person in the world, and he was elated to be with you.

I am so sorry for your loss; the picture of Max is irresistible, and yet, is only a glimpse of his loving, devoted, and fun-loving personality.  A true blessing.

None of us knows what the day will bring, not a one of us.  I so admire your caring words to this forum, offering us words of comfort.  We all carry a form of guilt in some way, but we must try to let it go because in truth, if we had known a better way to handle or avoid the passing of our loved one, we would all have done so in a heartbeat.  My kitty, Twirlie, was whole and healthy one day, and could not have been happier, and the next day, I got a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer when I noticed his tummy was distended; I prayed for those 24 hours, until we saw the vet, that it was nothing serious.   How could I have known what was to come?  How could you have known what was to come?  We could not possibly have known. 

I wish you strength in the days ahead, and in your mission to help the pets of your neighbors in your area.  

What happened to Max is a tragedy and my eyes filled with tears reading your words; your sorrow is so deep, I hope that offering your family and Max a prayer will help, and telling you that you are understood here, you are embraced here, and you are a person who knows all too well what the love of a pet means in this world: everything. 

This line from "A Pet's Peace" says it all:  "You gave me all the love you had."   Be assured, you did.

Sending comfort, peace, and light to you, and in remembrance of Max. 
Grace xox

"Now that the time has come
 Soon gone is the day,
 There upon some distant shore
 You will hear me say,
 Long as the day in the summer time
 Deep as the wine-dark sea,
 I'll keep your heart with mine
 Till you come to me"  (LM)

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Without a doubt that is one of the sweetest, loving tributes to your little Max. Who could not love that adoreable face? Losing our babies in any manner is so heartbreaking but I can't imagine the horror of loss like yours. Your love for Max and the joy of sharing your life with him is something that is precious beyond words. You'll never forget as all of us who love our pets know, but hopefully one day you'll feel the pain lessen as it will, believe it or not. I'm so very sorry that it is necessary for you to be here, but so glad that you found a place that you can express your feelings and know you are among those who totally understand.
It's been 3 months since I lost my sweet Chester, and those first days are something I don't like to think about but remember all too well. It was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. Know you're thought of with compassion and understanding.
Chester's mom (Joan)
He was a 13 yr old long haired doxie and so dear to my heart.
joan bartlett
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Hello to all my new friends.

It's been a week since we lost our beloved Max and I wanted to return here to thank all of you for your sympathy, kindness & love.

I found your letters to originate from the deepest part of your heart and spirit. They are written with the purest kind of caring one person can offer another. I found them to be graceful and elegant and my family and I thank all of you for the comfort and acceptance you freely give.

I did wanted to pass some things along as well and hopefully there will be something here that may help someone.

The first night for me was the most difficult. Because of my condition, I have to sleep in a recliner, and Max would sleep on my chest or on my thigh, or on the ottoman next to my chair. When I went to sleep that night I absolutely could not sleep. I did not want to close the curtain on the day because it made the situation permanent. Somehow in my mind I told myself if I didn't go to sleep, the event would still be current and I could do something about it. Eventually, somewhere in the night I fell asleep or passed out, not sure which.

I woke up the next morning exhausted and all of us really could not sleep or eat for days. We could find no joy in anything. We just held on to each other and supported each other when one of us was overcome with grief.

My wife said that on the first day she was 100% filled with sorrow and loss. On the second day she said she still felt the loss but was 50% filled with anger. Anger that it happened to such a sweet innocent soul. Anger toward the animal that did this. Anger that this happened to our family and that it was so unnecessary. She also felt cheated for Max as he was barely 9 and in good health.

I thing all of us here feel exactly that way.

I was unaware that guilt played such a huge role in losing a pet. It's all over the forums and the internet and I have something to offer;

My son Chris is an educated man and well read. He seems to have the ability to isolate with clarity and verbalize issues with ease. This is what he said regarding guilt; " I am not having any of this guilt business." " Guilt is an creature that will devour all you feed it and then demand more. I am not having any of that"

When he said that, it helped me to put my guilt aside as it showed me to view guilt as an enemy and as such I gave it no further power over me. I hope that helps someone.

I did go to the Marianne Soucy website that JerseyNonna suggested and found some comfort there in her PDF regarding connecting with your pet.

Perhaps some of you may have done the same.

Since this has happened I find that I find that I am not worried about a thing. Nothing bothers me anymore as all of the things that foolishly were so important to me now mean nothing.

As with most persons I have some regrets about my life. I have made some bad decisions but there were also a time or two where I could stand in front of God and say " You gave me an opportunity to help someone or an animal and I recognized it and helped", and with I smile I say "How about them apples :) ?" Whenever God presents an opportunity like that it is a huge blessing.

I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, and been really sensitive and I consider myself to be a good person, but, since this has happened I find that I am compelled to be the best person I can be. Perhaps that was Max's mission while he was here.

My heart and love goes out to each of you and your beautiful animal friends. You will be re-united with them again. Of this I am certain.

With our deepest appreciation
Dennis Ann Chris Andy & Max

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To Dennis and all of Max's family:  I am so sorry to read your story of Max. I had not seen earlier. Not sure how you even 'made it through' the first week. Your son is very wise. His words are so true. Guilt can overwhelm & consume us...taking pieces of our love, heart & spirit. And it's especially true when guilt takes away from all of the love & connection with our best buds.

And in telling Max's story-- warning other people-- you will hopefully protect someone else's best friend.  That you are thinking of someone else in your time of grief further illustrates how much you love Max. I hope that you get signs from him because the heart & soul bonds are too strong to just end.  Big hugs to all of you, Kasey
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I do hope you and your family redoing a teeny bit better by now.  A friend on this Forum recommend a book to me that I am finding helpful.  I have shared your story with so many people.  I wish you well.  I too am disabled enough that I can't do the things I want so I can relate to how much your little dog meant to you.  This is not an easy road we are all travelling..

"Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" by Gary Kurz, available of course on Amazon.  Take care.
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Dennis & Ann & Andy & Chris: My deepest sympathy for your loss of Beautiful Max. Your words and feelings are so eloquent and I have found them to be helpful in my time of grief and guilt! May peace lead you all through this journey of grief and loss. Many ((hugs)).

Stella's mom 
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I'm so so sorry for what you endured. I am grieving my own dog's death by euthanasia, so I know the emptiness, sorrow, guilt, misery, hideousness of all of it.

I live in Massachusetts and my friend also had a very small dog. He was deaf and about 15. Her daughter let him out of the house and my friend, within moments, knew something bad might happen. And it did. Her dog was killed by a coyote also.

One of the things I would encourage you to consider, however, is not taking it out on the coyotes. My friend got many calls from people saying how terrible coyotes are and that they should be shot. But even though she lost her dog to one, she DID NOT want retaliation done to the coyotes. This is part of living with them and sadly humans have not been very good stewards of the planet. Coyotes have their own families and their own bonds, too. Killing them just causes more suffering for everyone. They are simply being wild animals and sadly, sometimes our pets die. It is an absolute tragedy. Of course I know people who have lost dogs to speeding cars in their own neighborhoods and other terrible stories. Loss is just so hard. 

My friend still carries her sadness with her, and guilt, but she knows that sometimes factors beyond our control take over. And this was one of those moments in her life. You did NOTHING WRONG. You DID NOTHNG WRONG. 

The loss of our pets brings unimaginable pain. I myself don't think I will ever survive my own feelings of guilt and loss. I expect I will carry these feelings forever. I am wishing you and  your loved ones only warmth at such a devastating time.  But I hope you can put away any feelings that you are to blame. You are not. The fact you are writing on this site shows how much you deeply care and how much you loved your beautiful Max.

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dennis, your son chris is a very wise man for certain and his take on grief is spot on.  all grief does, if we allow it to stick around for too long, is darken our lives and keep us from recalling the deep love our fur-babies gave to us unconditionally and so very freely.  tell chris that I will try to follow his example and have no more of this dark grief - it's going out in the trash where I threw guilt when it tried to sneak it's way into my thoughts.  I still wish none of us were here but can think of no better place for us to be and share our thoughts.  all of you here are getting me through the roughest period of my entire life and you all aren't even near thank you everyone!  many many hugs and prayers
roxie and tae lounging on my chair (3) (560x640) (263x300).jpg 
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