By Amber Kizer

Typically our blogs don’t feature dogs that are no longer physically with us, but this tribute to Max by Amber Kizer is not only a marvelous example of the connection that can be made with a dog, but it illustrates the importance of understanding and appreciating a dog for who he is, regardless of how long the dog is with you. Amber and her mother Rachel were new to our foster program when they took in Max and we’re so grateful to them for not only loving him, but letting him know that he had value and was respected. You’ll love this blog and will enjoy meeting Max through Amber’s words about him. Max’s story explains in a very wonderful way why we do what we do.




Max arrived at the Mukilteo Lighthouse from Tacoma via transporter Sarah. Our first ODH dog, coming with unknowns about his ability to walk, we expected to carry him from vehicle to vehicle. But no, he came sitting perkily in the passenger seat of Sarah’s SUV, taking in everything around him. This 13+ year-old boxer mix was way undernourished (skinny skinny), all legs and boney bits, lumpy and bumpy with skin tags and tumors, and with an intense gaze.


Max after a bath


Max’s eyes spoke volumes—he’d done and seen a lot in his life. His person went to jail and didn’t return, so the neighbor took to Max to the pound. He might have cancer. Definitely had a spinal issue. Separation anxiety and claustrophobia made the list. But what made Max, Max? We set out to fill in the rest of his resume. He enjoyed his first bath, hid his first toy all over the house (and would forget where he’d left it), and ate well.  Even though his insides didn’t like food very much, he never gave up hope.

He didn’t feel attached to the name Max—whether that was his always name, or given at the shelter, we don’t know, but he wasn’t deaf, just not feeling “Max.” In our family animal names quickly evolve into nicknames and abbreviations of those nicknames, until the list of names we use look nothing like the original—so nicknames became the norm with Max. “Mr. Bull Dozer” because while his backend was rickety and flopped out of his control, his muscular chest and steely determination meant his body went anywhere his nose wanted to go—between chairs and end tables (“watch your glaasss!”), between rungs of a baby gate (he got through where? how?), out a cracked slider (“Max, push it open first with your nose man, please”). These names became Dozer, Maximus, Maxi-Mo, Mo-Mo…


Ready for a walk


We say he was part bloodhound because his nose rarely left the grass or shrubs in his new country home, and the bellows of his breath sucked in every invisible trail. He took to daily walks about the yard and then the country lane as he built strength and stamina. And he bayed…at the moon, at the walls, at us. And maybe there was Great Dane in there because of his face and ears and vocalizations…yes Max talked…and sang…






Max and Eli


Max had the most incredible interactions with animals around him. He and our youngest cat Eli became fast friends. Eli would wind around Max’s legs, go on walkabouts, and stand next to him. Just two guys contemplating the world. A mean, fat (and well loved) Chihuahua named Chico snarled and snapped at everyone around, but walked right alongside Max (and later looked for his buddy on the lane when Max couldn’t walk).






Three newly-pastured, but unknown neighborhood horses galloped full out toward us one afternoon. Max walked right up to them, desperately wanted to go through the fence to be with them. The horses bent the wire to kiss, smell, and cuddle with Max. He licked the insides of their lips and tops of their noses. When he stood outside Chickadees and Finches would sing and in the pause Max answered…they sang back…




Max with his Kong


Max experienced the world around him with his enormous mouth and tongue. His kisses were full on baths and any exposed human flesh was a prime target for continual repeated licks (we took to wearing layers). He loved his stuffed Kong, picked up cat toys and set them down gently, and finally near the end enjoyed doggie ice cream so much he slurped up the paper cup like it was a wad of tobacco in his cheek…

As he settled in the stories that spilled out from Max’s gaze, silently that first day, took on volume and heft. The psychological wounds of his prior life made it impossible to leave him alone (even between floors and rooms) so for his last months he went everywhere we went. Rides in the cab of my truck were his favorite—being high, seeing out, and singing along to whatever rock song took his fancy. If he wasn’t singing, it was because he wanted the station, or song, changed. His favorite songs came from the “Mama Mia” soundtrack. Nose pointed toward the sky, Max yowled, and howled, and believe it or not sang on beat to whatever song he heard.

He wasn’t part of our family for long, just a couple of months, but we loved him and all of us (you included as an ODH supporter) did well by him. We are grateful to Old Dog Haven for bringing him into our lives. To Judith Piper for the unbelievable email support as we navigated Max’s health and behavior needs. To Dr. Jean Dieden of Animal Hospital by the Sea, and her team, for their kindness and assistance throughout Max’s time with us and for his comfortable final exit. To supporters of ODH who sponsor the dogs and make it possible for fosters to focus on the care of the dogs and not the medical expenses.

Max’s cremains are sprinkled along his favorite walking route with his animal friends, and in our gardens where Maximus sunflowers will bloom.


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