The BARC Photo Team, the hardest working volunteers I believe I have ever encountered, arrived that Saturday morning. Tom started bringing dogs out, like he does every weekend. He brought us some fantastic dogs – and we have many at BARC. Then he strolled out with a lumbering, gorgeous, hunk of a dog named Max. We didn’t know what to expect. He was stinking handsome with a big, beautiful head and a stocky body. His black and marbled coat glimmered in the sunlight. Tom took him off leash and he trotted right over to expert BARC Photographer, Chelsea Tirone, although we refer to her as Fun Chelsea – because she’s fun. She squatted down to pet him and he gently fell into her waiting arms and lovingly hugged her. That’s when we knew. Just looking for love.
Tom told us he was a cruelty case and was confiscated from his owner by Animal Control. He had been confiscated with a smaller dog he had been living with. Max and his roommate would have to wait for his court date to see if he would be returned to his owner or become property of BARC and be available for adoption. We took his photograph for the BARC website and to market him on social media. Then we made his video. People really respond to the videos. He did his business outside and we spent a lot of quality time loving him. Then Tom took him back to his kennel and we continued with many other dogs.
We all fell in love with him. He was perfect. I put a note in his file asking that if Max found himself on “the list” to please notify me so I can come collect him before he is called home. Then, of course, I got in touch with Rescued Pets Movement and started singing his praises. Several weeks later the courts awarded Max and his friend to BARC. They both went into adoptions and Max’s friend got adopted almost immediately. Poor Max didn’t. He was lonely. Rescued Pets Movement was about to tag Max and send him to Colorado where some lucky person would make him part of their family but fate stepped in and someone adopted him just before he was tagged. Problem solved. Max left the shelter – the good way, and he now had a family to take care of him.
Two months later I received an email from Brenda at BARC. She told me I had put a note in Max’s file and he is on “the list”. I was in shock. Someone kept him for two months and then returned him. I was told that Max was strong enough to bust down the kennel door – right off of the hinges, and pretend he was Sean Connery in the movie, The Rock. However, every time he did this he would find the nearest human, trot over to them, and roll over for a belly rub. Not a fan of the kennel. Huge fan of people and dogs. He was taken out of adoptions and placed in a kennel that he couldn’t bust out of. I went to see him and sure enough he was jumping on the kennel door and barking his head off. Definitely not well mannered. But I had come with a secret weapon – hot dogs. I broke off a piece and gave it to him. He immediately calmed down and sat, waiting for a command. Then I took him outside and he couldn’t have been better behaved. I called Rescued Pets Movement again and this time he was tagged and would be going to All Aboard Animal Rescue. Max went into foster care. Once in foster care, he busted out of his crate when left alone and was unable to stay with the foster. Then he went into boarding. You know why they call it boarding? Because the dogs are bored shitless. It’s true, I Googled it. Okay, I made that up. But it’s true they are bored.
I asked Jenny at Rescued Pets Movement if it would be okay if I picked up Max from boredom and take him to the ranch with me. I do this sometimes when dogs need to figure out how to become dogs again. They usually just need a little nudge to remember how. She said yes. I left the girls at home and picked up Max. He was super happy to see me and super happy to be out of the kennel. I gave him some hot dogs. That made him happy. He responded really well to positive reinforcement. I leashed him and waited for his release paperwork. While that was going on, he walked behind the desk and lay down next to the lady preparing his paperwork. Then he rolled over for a belly rub. She asked me why someone said he was aggressive, while obliging Max with a belly rub. He closed his eyes and went to sleep. I told her whoever said that was just a bit misguided.
We left and two hours later were at Buc-ees in Luling. Max was in hog heaven at Buc-ees. He told me he especially loves the beef jerky and found the restrooms extremely nice and inviting. I agreed. He rode great in the truck and mostly slept with his head on my leg. He was my little armrest. Also, I found that he does love Country Western music. Especially Little Big Town.
We got to the ranch and he immediately transformed into a dog. He was off leash the entire time. He rarely left my side and when he did, he would always glance over his shoulder to make sure I was still there. He made himself right at home and explored ever inch of the ranch. He always did his business outside. No accidents for this guy. His favorite thing was laying on the deck and watching the hummingbirds buzz around his head. He was fascinated with them. Watching his head follow their frantic flights was just precious. He was a dog again. Didn’t take long.
Max never jumped up on the sofa and never jumped in the bed. That afternoon a dark thunderstorm rolled in. Lightning, thunder, the works. My girls refuse to go out in the rain and shiver when it thunders. This rock solid guy walked out, did his business, and explored. He was soaking wet and I only called him back when it started hailing. That probably wouldn’t have bothered him either. Then we sat under the tin roofed porch. I enjoyed a cigar and bourbon, he just enjoyed everything. Oh sure, he tried to drink my bourbon, but I told him no and he relented. I didn’t want to turn him into an alcoholic.
That night I took a shower and he stuck his head through the shower curtain to keep his eye on me. He was very watchful. I had to use my command I made up when my Dudley was alive, “NO WEINER!” Thank goodness he complied. After that I went to bed. He lay on the floor next to the bed and went to sleep. When I woke up, my head was between both of his legs and as I opened my eyes I saw his big head staring at me, waiting for me to acknowledge him. I did and he wouldn’t stop licking my face. We got up and I let him outside to do his business. We ate breakfast together and then went for a stroll. We sat for a while and waited for the sun to come up. He was fascinated by all of the bird sounds at that time of day. And then he saw a herd of wild goats on the hill in front of our house. His gaze was locked on them. He has great sight and hearing.
Later that day we walked down to the river. He dipped his feet in but was having none of that. He had probably never seen water before. I coaxed him to get in but nothing doing. I decided to go for a swim. Our river is spring fed and very clear and clean. I swam out to the middle. He looked at me and jumped right in. Completely loyal. We swam together out to a partially submerged rock. He was so proud of himself. I was proud of him too. I couldn’t keep him out of the river after that. He was a dog again.
We finally came back to Houston. Today he transported to All Aboard Animal Rescue. I have pulled countless dogs out of BARC. All of them have been outstanding. However only two have been flawless. Salvador was one. Max was the second. He is unflappable, charming, loving, kind, and gentle. I already miss his big, beautiful face.
Max was going to be put down because he was misunderstood. He just loved people so much, he didn’t want to be crated or kenneled. By the way, he crates just fine now. He just needed a chance. He was NEVER aggressive, just loved people so much he wanted to always be with them. Oh, I was tempted to keep him. I was. But I have enough dogs and someone in Colorado is going to need him more than I do. He could easily be a therapy or support dog and a fantastic ambassador to his breed. He’s that good. I’m glad we didn’t lose this guy.
Max did me a solid today after I dropped him off. I went home to get the girls and take them to the office with me. Since our home was ruined during Hurricane Harvey, we have moved to a 1950’s house we are renovating. We were waiting for a plumbing inspection and someone was supposed to be there to let the inspector in. But nobody was. I pulled up just as he was getting out of his truck – and he was a dog lover! We passed! Had I not picked up Max (and his girlfriend, Polly), walked them into Rescued Pets Movement, and gone back to pick up the girls for work, we would have missed our inspection and not passed. It was perfect timing, and all because of Max. I feel like it was Max’s parting gift to me. It was all he could do for me. It was the only thing he could do for me. I love him for that. I just love him, period. He was misunderstood, but not by me. I saw what was in his heart. So did the BARC Photographers. You just have to look a little harder to see his true self. It’s there if you try hard enough to see it. It will show up. You can bet on it.
Have a great and long life my big boy. You will be great. You already are.