Today I’m saying goodbye to my dog, Maya. Yes, I’m sad, but I’m also grateful that she led such a long and interesting life.
Maya was born on August 21, 2005, and will have lived to be over 14 years and 8 months old (that’s nearly 104 in dog years!)
We bought Maya from an animal rescue when she was about 7 weeks old. We already had one dog (Bailey) and he was about 4 years old at the time. We got him from a shelter when he was a little over a year old. When we got Maya, my daughters were 5 and 6 years old. They were beyond ecstatic to have a puppy. I, on the other hand, was not. Puppies are hard work!
About 5 days later we noticed something wrong. Maya became lethargic and stopped eating. One of my best friends is our vet (thanks for everything Dr. Lorrie!) We took Maya in to see her and she was diagnosed with parvo. Chances were 50/50 that she wouldn’t survive. I was mortified. If she died, the girls would be heartbroken. But Dr. Lorrie kept her in the clinic on an IV and little Maya recovered. From that moment on, I knew that dog would be a survivor.
Maya grew up fast and was soon teaching Bailey all her stupid tricks. You see, Bailey was a sweet dog, but god damn he was dumb. Maya took full advantage and made him the fall guy for all of her mischief. If a shoe got chewed up, she’d point a paw at him. When I’d take them out on walks, I used a tandem leash and she’d wrap him around every stop sign and telephone pole. He fell for it every time.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I was going through a divorce. My ex left me with both dogs. The kids were about 8 and 9 at the time. Tiffany and I had just started dating, and I was going crazy trying to manage it all.
I left work and went to get the girls from daycare. I stopped by the house on the way there. I walked in the mudroom and saw Bailey standing there with a pool of blood below him. I was freaked out but only had 15 minutes to get to daycare. So, I locked Bailey in the garage and went to get the kids. I came home and told the girls to go in the front door and not go in the garage.
I went in and went to the garage. It looked like a murder scene. There was blood on the floor, the walls, and even the fridge. Bailey was just standing there with a goofy look on his face. I checked him for injuries and then took him out to see if he was pissing blood. He peed normally and then all the sudden blood just shot out from his penis. I was terrified.
You see, earlier I had another dog (Harley) and he died early. Basically all of his organs shut down and he started bleeding from every orifice. I thought for sure the same thing was happening to Bailey.
I called Dr. Lorrie and asked her what I should do. She came over and did a quick check but couldn’t find anything wrong. She had me tie an old t-shirt around his body as a tourniquet and told me to bring him to the clinic first thing in the morning. I did and waited for her to call me, telling me he was a goner.
She called about 45 minutes later and told me that the base of his penis was lacerated. It was so weird, neither of us could figure out how that could possibly have happened. So she stitched him up and I brought him back home.
At this point in the story, I should remind you that I was going crazy…not only with Bailey’s torn penis, but everything else in my life. It was not the best of times.
Anyway, I came out of the house the next day and saw Maya and Bailey standing butt hole to butt hole. Apparently he had mounted her and they had rotated into that position. In a fit of rage, I grabbed them both by the butt hair and pulled them apart. There was actually a popping sound. I checked Bailey to make sure the stitches hadn’t broken, and thankfully they hadn’t.
I called Dr. Lorrie and told her I had figured out how Bailey broke his dick. She said how, and I sent her a stick figure picture I had drawn of two dogs in the same position. She called back laughing and I asked how this could possibly have happened. Although Maya wasn’t fixed (another story), Bailey was. She said it was known to happen.
Very soon after we made another trip to the vet, this time to get Maya spayed.
That wasn’t the end of Maya’s antics though. Our house had an electric dog fence. It worked great with Bailey, but to Maya, it was more of a guideline than a rule. She would constantly go through it, sometimes getting stuck. Her leg would twitch as the electricity ran through her collar, but it didn’t even phase her. She’d just go on to do whatever she had planned. More than once, she ran off and had us all frantically canvassing the neighborhood in search of our missing dog.
Early the next year, we moved to a new home. It had a fenced-in yard and it was perfect for both the kids and dogs. Maya could no longer escape and they could enjoy as much time outdoors as they pleased. One of Maya’s favorite activities was finding baby bunnies and bringing them to TIffany as presents. She was none too pleased when Maya would lay the dead creatures at her feet. Good times.
That house also had an above ground pool. Even though she was a lab, Maya would typically stay away from the water because she knew there was no easy way out. But one season as I was closing it, she climbed up on the deck and fell in. I was putting the cover on and she probably thought she could walk on it. I jumped in and hauled her out. The kids were screaming and everything was chaos. I got everybody calmed down and went back to work.
From then on Maya stayed away from the pool. It didn’t mean she didn’t like water though. In fact, she loved creeks, lakes, and the ocean, and she had this really weird habit of running right in and peeing in whatever body of water she was allowed to get in.
During that time we had four animals, with two cats in addition to the two dogs. The older cat, Bunky was kind of skittish and wasn’t a big fan of either dog, but she really didn’t like Bailey. They had frequent stink eye competitions and Bailey usually lost.
They both died around the same time. Bunky died on her own in our house. Bailey developed a tumor on his snout and it grew really big, really fast. Dr. Lorrie put him to sleep with us at his side. I was so sad. He was the only other male in our house and for all the stress he caused me (with Maya’s assistance) he was my best bud.
While I took it hard, Maya took it worse. She was never the same after he passed. Shortly after, we moved into a condo. Before Bailey died, Maya was kind of indifferent to the cats. Maybe it was the smaller space, or perhaps it was because they both lost a friend, Maya and our other cat, Snickers became better friends. We’d come home and often find them snuggled up together on the couch.
After a year, we moved into a much nicer condo in the city. We loved the location and layout of our new home. It had four floors and a total of 46 steps from bottom to top. Everyone, including Maya, got a lot of exercise climbing up and down all day.
About 2 years ago, Maya really started having problems. She was distressed and had trouble walking. A couple of times she wandered off and I found her tangled up in a bush. I was convinced she was trying to crawl off and die. We took her to see Dr. Lorrie and I was prepared for the worst. Without a lot of testing, she couldn’t tell for sure but narrowed it down to cancer or arthritis. If it was cancer, a normal anti-inflammatory would only make it worse. But a new drug (Galliprant) had recently come on the market, and it was supposed to provide relief without the liver and kidney effects other drugs were known to have. It was expensive, but we figured we’d give it a shot. Maya made a full recovery!
Later that year, Snickers tried to jump into the chandelier in our foyer and fell three stories. She broke her pelvis and we had to put her to sleep. Once again we were all devastated. Maya had lost another friend and was now alone. None of us ever thought she would be the last to go.
About six months ago we moved again. This time back out to the suburbs in a house with a yard. It was much easier for Maya to go out, but she could no longer handle the steps. So, she’s been living on the ground floor. While I think she liked the area much more, it’s been a difficult transition. She loved sleeping in our bedroom and working in the office with me. She hasn’t been able to do either. But still, we’d go for our daily walks and spend the evenings on the couch watching TV with her at our feet.
Over the last couple of months, Maya’s had more difficulty standing up and walking. Her legs just don’t have the strength anymore. Some days are better than others, but we all knew the time was coming.
As I’m writing this she’s sitting at my feet, unaware that in a few hours, I’ll be taking her to see Dr. Lorrie for the last time. There’s no way to know what she’s thinking, but If I were to guess, I’d say she’s ready. She’s not living her best dog life.
It’s a beautiful day outside. In a little while, we’ll go to the park and enjoy some time together. We’re going to swing through the drive-through and get Maya a cheeseburger and some ice cream. We’ll sit outside and have a picnic with our good dog.
While I’m very sad, I also want her death and this note to be a celebration of a great life lived. Hopefully, she’ll cross the rainbow bridge and be reunited with the rest of her pack, including Bailey, Snickers, and yes, even Bunky. I’m going to miss Maya very much, but I’ll also remember all the great years we had together.
So if you would, raise a glass today and have a toast to Maya. One of the best dogs ever.