Max or 'Maxi-Moo' as he is affectionately called officially joined our family on 14 April 2011 - my 27th Birthday. It was around a month before the second set of operations to sort out my clavicle were to take place and we thought a Jack Russell would be the perfect start to our family and also to help me focus on something during my convalescence following. We had met him about a month before he was ready to leave the litter and it was love at first sight.
Meeting Max for the first time.
At that stage we were living in a small complex in Pietermaritzburg and Chris was away on business - I knew Max's arrival was imminent but had no idea the official date would be my birthday, we had everything a puppy could want on hand - as any expectant first-time parents would have, well in our case puppy parents - early that morning Chris phoned to wish me and to tell me that there was a package at the gate. So off I marched to find Tandy (our friend whom we bought Max from) at the gate with this little bundle awaiting me - I won't lie, I was terrified, Chris wasn't home - could I look after this puppy on my own?
I must have 1000's of photos of him - He is the sweetest little soul
Our next door neighbour had this unruly little mutt that we tried to socialise Max with but he would just bully our little one so I guarded him fiercely - you would never say that I was his primary caregiver in those early months as is witness to how he follows Chris around - we call him Chris' second shadow. Heaven forbid he pops in at home for half an hour then leaves again, as Maxi-Moo will just sit at the door, anxiously awaiting Chris' return
We had a small fence put in to keep the neighbours dog out
Up until Max's arrival the only pet I had ever known was our family dog, Duke, a Weimaraner - he was a German hunting dog - so I had always been sceptical of small dogs, which really was a misperception on my part. I can't imagine life now without a Jack Russell, if anything I like to think of both myself and Chris as being able to give advice on how to raise them - Max is the first of three that we own and I have bought many a book on them. Even carting one from London all the way home on our last overseas trip.
He will always be my first baby
Those first few months were a learning curve, especially after I had come out of hospital with my arm in a sling and crutches to aid with my walking but we managed. He spent most of his days on the bed with me - I suppose looking back he was spoilt, but he was and is still such a well-behaved dog. We took him for walks straight away to get him used to a collar and lead - something we followed up with Cleo and Jessie too - and made sure he would ride along in the car from the get go to make sure he became used to the sensation of driving - in an attempt to avoid him getting car sick. It worked a treat - he loves nothing more than going for a drive with Chris, even if it's to the local shop just around the corner from us. We also made sure that we had him fixed so that he could never father any puppies, after researching we found out that in the long run it's beneficial to their health and lifespan - obviously not for those who plan to breed with their animals.
I still laugh when I recall his first experience with a swimming pool - I was at my good friend Michelle's place and Max was running around her massive yard with her two dogs and two children in tow - he ran straight across the lawn into the pool without even realising it - it was the funniest thing watching this little Jack Russell at break-neck-speed come to a dead halt as he hit the water! I suppose I shouldn't laugh but at the very least I was being a responsible parent as I was keeping a watchful eye on things.
I can't believe he is 5 years old already, the years seem to be flying by. The first year or two after Max and the others arrived, I'd get terribly down thinking that we only had a finite amount of time with them but those feelings have dissipated, not only with time but as I have come to realise that it is about savouring the moments and cherishing the memories - if I had to put a finger on one regret, it would be that we never gave him a child to be a best friend to - as he thrives on attention and he would've made the best 'get-up-to-mischief-partner' - but I can't look at it like that, it just wasn't meant to be.
I always say to parents that bringing a pet into a family is one of the best things they can do for their children as it not only teaches them how to look after and respect animals but in a bittersweet way it also teaches them the circle of life - birth, life and then ultimately death.
On a more positive note, Max has been a relatively healthy little dog - in the last few months he has been diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection, for which he is being medicated but apart from that all is well on that front so I feel blessed in that sense.
He has the most intense and thoughtful gaze.
People think we're crazy when they find out we have three Jack Russells - we've heard tales of holes being dug around gardens, escape attempts and furniture being chewed to bits. That is not the case with Max and Cleo and Jessie - yes they get excited, well the whole pack does truth be told, when we arrive home but I'd be very worried if they didn't - but I guess it all comes down to what you put in, you get out with constant, fair training and rewards.
Weimaraners will always have a special place in my heart, having grown up with one in my younger years, but Max has shown me just how special the Jack Russell breed is and his presence during a difficult time in my life has cemented that fact. Love you so much, my Maxi-Moo.
Until next time,