A Heart dog is the canine equivalent to a soulmate. It’s the one dog that you compare all dogs to. But you can have only one, right?
I’ve always believed that Max (Sr) was my Heart dog. I purchased him myself in my very early 20’s from the store at the mall. (Stop! Before you think I’m a terrible person for contributing to the puppy mill problem, I was 20 and didn’t know any better.)
He helped me grow up by teaching me the responsibilities of adulthood.
Spur-of-the-moment beach trip with my friends! Can I bring Max, or do I have to board him? And if I have to board him, can I afford it. And do I really want to go without him?
Splurge on a spa day or get Max his annual dental cleaning? Haircut for myself or Max? A lot of decisions were made, all benefiting this tiny creature who had taken up residence in my heart.
With the responsibility of his care and needs, he became my fur child. I doted on him. For Easter, I made him an Easter basket. At Christmas, I took him to see Santa Paws and of course always made sure he had gifts to open that morning. Through the scrapbooking phase, while everyone was cropping and gluing pics of their kids or boyfriend, I was thinking of the perfect dog quotes for my scrapbook of Max. He was the closest thing to a child I had and thus he was treated as such.
He was my one constant in life. He was ALWAYS there for me and ALWAYS wanted to be. He was ALWAYS happy to see me as I was happy to see him…even when he shredded a box of tissues or my address book (for the third time I might add).
Max’s care and health were my first thought. He ate healthier than I did. I wanted to make sure I did everything I could for him to make sure he had the best life EVER!
In 2005, I received a call from a friend that walked dogs at our local humane society to let me know that there was a Miniature Schnauzer puppy just brought in that was going to be put up for adoption. This is how Ace entered my life. Max tolerated Ace. Ace was 6 months old when I rescued him. I now had 2 dogs that relied on me. Two dogs to scrapbook and make decisions for. I was still able to compartmentalize my love for each of them. I loved them both but my love for Max was still bigger…stronger.
We all grew older and in 2011, Max was really showing his age. His quality of life had diminished in the past year to where he was falling down steps and unable to hold his bladder. I made the decision to help my sweet little heart dog across the Rainbow Bridge in May of 2011.
I still had Ace and in November of 2011 found another dog on Craigslist. He was a 7-year-old Miniature Schnauzer (also named Max) who was “Free to good home”. I only planned on meeting the dog, but ended up coming home with Max (Jr) that night.
Max Jr had many health issues pertaining to his ears. This may have been one of the reasons he was a free dog. By the way, there is no such thing as a free animal. His many, many vet appointments for ear infections that just would not go away led to him having a TECA (Total Ear Canal Ablation). After this procedure, Max’s true colors shown. Boy, were they glorious! He has been the most gentle, sweet-natured dog ever. I’ve always felt like Max’s (Sr) essence somehow found its way into this little furbaby I found on Craigslist. All the love that I had for Max Sr was now poured into Max Jr.
Did this mean that Max Jr was my heart dog?
It’s been seven years since finding Max Jr. He’s had numerous health concerns and medical traumas but has remained the sweetest most gentlemanly dog ever. We are in his twilight. I no longer trust his legs to not give out on the steps, so I carry him. He can no longer hold his bladder. He seems lost at times. But, when I come home from work, he still makes it a point to come and see me and still tries to wag his little nub of a tail. Can I have more than one heart dog?
Through all of this, Ace is there. Ace is now 13 years old. He is the goofiest boy ever! He’s healthy and non-problematic. He demands attention from everyone. He’s still a playful as the day I adopted him. We’ve taken him hiking, he loves chasing bubbles, he’s talkative and slightly spastic. Everyone knows Ace because he will not stop barking or let you alone until you pet him. He will even push feeble Max Jr out of the way to get more pets. He’s also slowing down. He doesn’t jump up on the bed to sleep anymore. He no longer hears me opening the garage door when I come home. I believe this one will hurt the most.
Maybe it’s a personal decision. Maybe those with only one heart dog have only had a strong connection/love for one dog. But I don’t. I will compare all dogs to Max Sr for his almost human qualities; Max Jr for his sweet manners and gentle love and to Ace for his antics, ease of care, and joy.
I’ve decided. I have more than one heart dog.
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