Jeans? Check. Work-out socks? Check. Bubba? Check! Okay, let's pack it up. We're off to Tokyo!

The night before my departure, I started my next day’s blog, figuring I could get a head start on a short travel day.  The photo of Bubba sitting in my suitcase seemed an appropriate intro, and the final page preview of Dark Matter #2 a perfect ending.  I would have a couple of hours before leaving home to update you all on my decision which, when I went to sleep last night, was to leave Maximus in the capable hands of my dog-sitter.  Circumstances changed however and, the next morning, I ended up shelving my planned post in favor of another, far more difficult entry.

Yes, he was sick.  Yes, he was weak.  Yes, he’d stopped eating.  And though a part of me knows his quality of life had greatly diminished in the past few months and that it was a decision I would have to make eventually, another part of me can’t help but regret that decision.

After collapsing outside on the back porch, I helped Maximus up and set him down on the lawn.  It was business as usual for him (although actually lifting his leg to pee had become so difficult a task that he’d given up on it weeks earlier) and, after he was done, I brought him back inside where he refused the food I offered him.  Instead, he turned away and lay down, head cocked, resting the right side of his face on the floor – another little something he’d adopted of late.  I sat down and transferred him onto my lamp where he lay quietly, unmoving, as the minutes ticked away.  In the past, he would have shifted, or stalked off to a more comfortable place but, that morning, he seemed to content to just lie there with me.  I considered the possibility that it was the meds (after all, the vet had said that they contributed to his lethargy), but it had been 12 hours since he’d received his last dose and if there was a window where he would be at his liveliest, this was it.

When it came time for the appointment, Akemi wrapped him up in a big, red blanket.  He sat in her lap as I drove, then I carried him inside upon our arrival.  We were given a private room.  A catheter was inserted and I set Max down on my lap.  He was a dog who trembled at every hospital visit and, even in his weakened state, I could feel his anxiousness, however slight.  The doctor explained that he was going to inject Max with a barbiturate that would put him to sleep and stop his heart.  He’d feel no pain and would simply drift off.  He waited until I was ready, then gave him the injection.  Maximus was on my lap, with Akemi stroking his head, when he went.  It was, as the vet had assured me, very quick.

If there’s one thing I wasn’t prepared for, one thing that still upsets me a little as I think back to it now, it was his eyes and the fact that he never shut them.  “Putting an animal to sleep” is a euphemism and, while it certainly may resemble a drifting off to deep slumber, there was no mistaking the difference.  The vet left us to say our goodbyes and we did.  I apologized to him, sorry i couldn’t have done more to help, sorry that, this time, I wouldn’t be bringing him back home.  I left him, wrapped in that big, red blanket, as if taking it back would be a final, act of indignity.  At least leave him the blanket.

I returned home, posted my blog entry, and finished packing.  Then, I started receiving the messages  The emails, the texts, the phone calls and posts.  I can’t begin to tell you how much they meant to me and how much I appreciated each and every one, especially from those who have been there as well.  I was so touched, in fact, that I had to wear my sunglasses in the airport whenever I’d check my phone or the blog.

On the flight, I had a hard time concentrating.  Every time I closed my eyes, I’d see him – and every time I didn’t, I’d feel guilty for not thinking about him.  I tried to watch something, attempted to do a a little reading, some work on the script, but I was unable to focus.  In the end, I passed the time doing the only thing that felt right – scrolling through the last photos I took of Maximus on my iPhone and writing this blog entry.

I’ve arrived in Tokyo physically and emotionally exhausted.  I leave you with this blog entry – dated February 27th because it’s already Friday night here – bookended the way I’d intended two days ago.  With that photo of my hopeful Bubba to start, and these previews of Dark Matter’s second issue to finish.

70 thoughts on “January 27, 2012: The Longest Day

  1. A heart wrenching post, Joe. My heart goes out to you. As difficult though it may be, try to enjoy yourself on your trip. In the end, I think you will find your trip therapeutic. I know last year for me it was helpful to just get away from my normal life that was so closing associated with the situation. Above all, don’t feel guilty about it.

    Hopefully, you’re not too jet lagged. I have a trip planned to Australia in April and the only part I’m kind of dreading is the flight there.

    Take care!

  2. Because of the time difference I’m only just on for your entry on the 26th.

    So sorry.

    You gave him a wonderful life. Dogs give us so much unconditionally so when they do go it really really hurts.

    Actually quite upset about this, a little dog I never met, only read on here about him for the last few months, and reading your obvious pain.

    Best wishes and thoughts to you all.

  3. I have my Sassie’s ashes in a beautiful wooden box in my bedroom where she used to sleep, it has a brass nameplate and her collar and dog tag. I still talk to her and miss her every day, and still regret that there was no more that I could do for her, she was my best girl.
    Try and enjoy your trip and know we are thinking of you all.
    Now, where did I put my sunglasses?

  4. Hi Joe, I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and haven’t really posted, but in this case I couldn’t resist.. My condolences for you in this difficult time.

  5. Joe and Akemi, my deepest condolences to you both.

    Sweet Maximus is at peace… and thanks you for your gift of love.

    Basil and Stash

  6. No, no, no, don’t you start having regrets! You were an awesome dad for Max. Now go have a wonderful vacation and don’t ponder on “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s”. There’s macaron’s are out there just waiting for you.

  7. I’m glad you and Akemi made it to Japan safely. Looking forward to meeting Akemi’s mom.

  8. When I had to put my girl down, I noticed the same thing with her eyes. She stared off into space, but I knew that she heard me talking to her. I knew the moment she was no longer there because the light in her eyes suddenly went out and they became darkened and dull. I suspect it’s the same thing with people when the soul leaves. Without a doubt, she knew she was loved, just as Max knew. I think that our pets somehow have the wisdom to know what their lot is and wait with resignation. I still think about the light in the eyes going out…

  9. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been reminded of Max in the last few weeks. We have several people in our new apartment complex that have pugs, and I’ve seen them walking their dogs. I’ve had to do double takes a few times. All of you will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers as you grieve.

    Take care.

  10. Hi Joe,
    I know my timing isn’t the best but I try to grab several entries from your blog in my email when I can with my crazy schedule. I am so sorry to hear about Maximus. 🙁
    It makes me sad. He had some great heart!
    Hope you can find comfort in knowing you did all you could for him and that he knew it.
    Keeping you in my thoughts,

  11. I can’t imagine how lost you must be feeling now, Joe. I’ve got a 15 year old dog, who this past week has taken a turn for the worse – dizzy, loss of balance, little appetite and vomiting. She’s had it before a few times and it’s caused by an inflammation in her ear canal – still, it’s a reminder that she’s not a pup any more. It’s a sad thought, but I think this will be her last year.

    Anyone who says that a pet isn’t part of the family has never had a pet: I’m sure you’re devastated.

    How are the other dogs coping – I bet they miss their old pal Maximus being around :'(

  12. Joe,

    I am so, so sorry. I know it doesn’t help much, but I do know how you feel. I’ve had dogs my entire life. And it is never, ever, any easier to let them go.

    Just try to remember the life he enjoyed because of you. And that you did all that you could to make that life and ultimately his passing as good as could be.

    If it’s OK with you, I’m going to steal that smiling picture of Max and make it my Facebook profile pic for awhile, to honor his memory. If anyone asks, I’ll just say he’s a friend of a friend who’s no longer with us.

  13. Ah, Joe, I’ve gone through similar experiences. I was startled when I read how Max collapsed on the back porch, as that brought up memories of the last day of one of my beloved cats. He was almost seventeen years old, and had been with me since he was a kitten. He was my first cat (no pets allowed when I was growing up) and went through my first almost seventeen years of adulthood with me. Good times, and bad, he was my partner, always there no matter what. He had been ailing for some weeks, but I kept holding out hope, and holding off making ‘the decision.’ One morning, he got up, and his hind legs collapsed. He couldn’t stand. I took him to the vet. I thanked my cat for being with me, loving me and said good-bye to him, holding him as the vet gave him that shot. I know it was the right thing to do, but I, too, questioned whether there was something more that I could do for him, even though there was not. I had him cremated, and I keep his ashes.

    It’s hard to wake up and face the loss of a beloved furbaby. I would call for him, forgetting that he could no longer trot up to me. As time passes, you will adjust your life to the absence of Max’s walk, and habits, but rest assured that you will always have the love and experience of your time with Max. That will never fade, and will often give you strength and support during those similar moments that Max gave you strength and support in his life. Accepting what is does not mean that you are forgetting Max. It means that you are honoring Max, by continuing to remember him as time passes and you go through your life. Don’t worry. Max is in your heart, and will always be there, forever a blessed part of your life.

  14. Joe, thank you so much for sharing your doggies with us the way you have — Max has a place in so many hearts. You were there for him all the way, and that’s all any pup (or anyONE, for that matter) can ask. The hurt is proportionate to the love, but the love will outlast the worst of the hurt. Enjoy Tokyo and celebrate Max’s life by living your own to the fullest and cherishing your remaining little family members.

  15. I kinda feel like a bad mommy after reading all the comments. I don’t stay with my pet when they are put to sleep. I’ve seen a lot of animals die, and…well…I like my last memories of them to be of them alive. Selfish, I suppose. Also, I have the vet dispose of their remains now. I’ve also buried a lot of pets over the years and that’s one of the hardest things to do outside of making the final decision. And I don’t do ashes (knowing me, I’d end up spilling them all over, or something). I guess I’ve grown a bit cold as I’ve gotten older.

    Take care, Joe, and try to enjoy your trip as best you can. {{{hugs}}}


  16. Condolences to you and Akemi, Joe. I think most of the blog regulars on here will almost miss him as much as a passing of their own pet!

  17. Sorry, I meant to put will miss him as much as their own pets who had passed on. Condolences once again.

  18. Sorry that I missed your entry yesterday.

    Maximus had a great life because of your love and care, and I’m sure he appreciated it. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  19. Try not to focus on that last moment if it upsets you. Remember all the other many many happy loving moments that made up his life. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Grieve however feels right to you. There are no rights and wrongs when you lose someone you loved.

  20. Sorry for your loss, Joe.

    You gave Max (and his little brothers and sisters) a better life than any other dog would have even dreamed of, and you did all you could to give him more months ( = years in dog years) and allow him to leave us in a familiar and happy setting.
    There’s nothing more you could have done. We’ll miss the litte guy,

  21. Oh Joe, I am so sorry to hear about Maximus. You gave him a great life. I know you did everything you could.

    I had to go through a similiar situation last Summer with my cat Bubie. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

  22. I am so sorry Joe

    You gave the little guy a great life, i had to do the same thing with my two pekeinese, so heart breaking but i believe they are in a better place

    My thoughts are with you and Akemi

    Max is at peace at the rainbow bridge

  23. Joe,

    I am very sorry to hear about Max.

    Try not to second guess yourself you did the right thing he knew how much you loved him.

    Take care,

    Jim S.

  24. You must be in bits.
    I know I was when my last dog died. In many ways it affected me more than the loss of a loved on. And I know how bad that sounds. But…dogs give you unconditional love and trust. When we have to do the ‘deed’ it feels like an act of betrayal. Of course it isn’t. It’s the purest, most loving, caring thing we can do for the pet who has played such a large part of our lives. The fact is Joe you did everything you could…you went a helluva lot further than most. You gave him a wonderful home, a wonderful life and so much love. So now you’re grieving, and that can’t be avoided despite what I, and everyone else has told you.

    Take care of yourself and try to enjoy your holiday. I know Max would want that.

    (BTW. I know I’m not one of your regulars but if you ever want to get in touch, I’m a good listener)

  25. Joe, please don’t feel any regrets. You went well beyond friendship and love for Maximus and the last kindness we can do is to be there with them. His time was coming and you both knew it. Now he is at rest and spent his last moments with you. You’ll now have a bit of a break, see something different and hopefully that will help with the grieving process. Enjoy your Tokyo trip with no regrets…it was time and the right thing to do.

  26. I am really sorry for your loss. It was an important decision and the right thing to do. Maximus will be remembered (I know I’ll never forget him). Thank you for sharing your time with us for so long. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of your readership is empathizing with you (as I am).

    My heart goes out to you.

  27. Oh, loved the Bubba picture. My mini schnauzer used to do that or leave me a surprise (favourite toy or chew stick) in the suitcase. It got a bit ridiculous when the shepherds tried it!

  28. Hi Joe, I posted a photo of Max on my Facebook and my daughter saw it. She’s in Portugal for a jiu jitsu competition and just called me, in tears, to say she’d seen it and to please tell you how sorry she is. That little dog of yours sure touched a lot of people, even some who do not read this blog! Hope you’re feeling a little better today.

  29. I am so sorry for your loss, Joe 😥 I went thru the same thing a little over a year ago, and it still hurts – especially when someone else goes thru it as well. All my best to you, Joe. Rest in peace sweet Max.

  30. Joe, no regrets, no guilt.

    You gave Max his best chance all his life, a life filled with love and happiness. There is nothing you could have done any better for him.

    Max will be in your heart forever.

    When you find yourself enjoying your time in Tokyo, don’t let guilt destroy it. I think if Max could say it to you, he would want you to find ways to enjoy your trip.

  31. Dearest Joe,

    I woke this morning to your blog. I have tears running down my cheeks. They are grateful tears. We are ever so blest to have those we love in our life. How our heart is forever changed because they were part of our lives. If we are lucky…we have years of memories to comfort us when they go. I cannot help but recall what an amazing father you have been. I think the greatest blessing that any of us can have when we leave this life is to know we are loved. Maximus…as all your family knows…were and always will be treasured and loved. You gave Max the greatest gift…the one we take with us when we leave this Earth…and carry with us to the next life. It is never lost…and kept safe within our hearts forever.

    Love always,

  32. 😥

    I’m so sorry, Joe & Akemi. Hugs for Jelly, Bubba, and Lulu. My condolences also to Sis Andria, Mamma Mallozzi, and Fondy.

    Because of my new schedule, and an earlier post, I missed the 26th’s blog and was commenting on the 25th. Couldn’t understand why I was crying so hard yesterday, but now I know.

    Everything you’ve written today is like a replay of my girl’s last day. Every little bit of it. It *is* like losing your first child. When I told my mom that, saying it must be because I had no children of my own, she said this: “I’ve got news for you. It still feels that way even when you do have kids.”

    Adieu, Maximus, notre enfant chien…

    You spoke of Maximus’ eyes, and how upsetting it was that he never shut them… Last night I heard this quotation on TV.

    “Knowing that when the light is gone, Love remains for shining.”
    ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, of her beloved cocker spaniel, Flush

    The light in Maximus’ eyes may have gone out, but his love for you remains eternal.

  33. I’m reading at work and trying not to cry because my coworker just went through that last week and I don’t want to have to explain I to her and make her think of her dog. I’m usually a lurker but wanted to send my condolences. Thank you for sharing so much with your readers.

  34. Joe, I am so sorry to hear about Maximus. (I’ve only just read the 26th/27th blog entries.)

    Losing a beloved pet hurts … it leaves us with a sense of loss and emptiness which isn’t easily healed. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix, so don’t be afraid to let yourself to mourn. It’s natural!

    I lost my sweet, intelligent, fussy and incredibly bossy shorthaired Chihuahua many years ago. (Way back before it became fashionable to own a toy dog.)

    Digby (deliberately named) imprinted on my life to the point where I couldn’t bring myself to get another dog after he lost his fight against heart related problems. I won’t go into details because you’re dealing with your own loss at the moment.

    I do know Max knew how much you loved him, I know he felt secure with you as his daddy and I know you did the right thing! Dogs are smart and brave and they ALWAYS let you know when they’re ready to say goodbye.

    Focusing on the good memories will ultimately help. Remember all the stories attached to the photos you’ve taken and talk about him whenever you feel the need.

    Take care of yourselves! And thank you for sharing this cute little fella’s life with everyone who reads the daily blog.

    RIP Maximus. You will be missed!


  35. I couldn’t finish the blog, my reading glasses got all steamed up and spotty… hugs.

    My bobtail boys’ ashes, Jake and Pico, are in lovely little boxes. They’re even in my will as to who takes care of them when I’m gone.

  36. I hesitate to post this– but thinking of all your readers it feels necessary. I feel sick to my stomach that I didn’t give you this advice, but perhaps it will help others in the same situation.

    Insist, absolutely INSIST, that your vets give your dogs an injection to put them to sleep as in SLEEP, before euthanization drug. I have seen dogs jerk out the needle, panic and cause the most horrific end for the owners. I have heard others describe the eyes open experience. And I also know how the drug works and I want my dogs unaware totally at the end, given the peaceful sleep of a sedative first. Your dog truly goes peacefully to sleep and then they can euthanize. My vet argued that it is the same, but it is not.

    Two years ago when we had to put my Chow down (liver/spleen cancer, was bleeding out), I still made the vet give her the drug. Thank G-d. Her veins kept collapsing and the vet tried FIVE VEINS without getting enough drugs in her to do the job. I finally insisted she inject into an organ, a process that is fastest and necessary sometimes with severe blood loss. It was a new vet, she was in tears. The vet tech and I both assured her it was okay, the dog totally unaware. But when my regular vet returned, I made sure she understood how horrible it would have been without the sedative knocking the dog out first– and that they would still be scraping me AND the new vet off the ceiling. The new vet avoided me for nearly a year. I finally made her come into a room to talk and I explained I was an old hand, a farmer’s grandchild, a long time breeder. That I was not upset with her and it was worth it if she learned to always give sedation first. I still cry for the loss of Katana, my dear chow/coyote rescue who laid at my feet for 13 yrs and loved me utterly. But at least I know she was not aware or stressed in any way during the horrific attempts to inject the drug to euthanize her. And I am so very sorry I didn’t think to suggest it to you long ago.

  37. I am so sorry for your loss Joe.

    I wanted to say more……but my tears are making it hard to see the computer screen.

    Maximus was loved so much. Rest in peace Max!

  38. I’m so sorry about Maximus. (I’ve only just seen the entry.) It’s such an awful decision to have to make but it sounds as if you made it at just the right time. I think one just knows when they’re just worn out and have had enough.

    I know it’s no consolation now when you and your family are missing him, but I hope it helps later for you to remember what a happy life he has had with you and how he has never wanted for anything and that you know in your heart of hearts that you have always put his needs (and those of your other dogs) before your own needs or considerations. I don’t really see that there is anything that you could have done that you haven’t done and even if it doesn’t help with the grief, I think it does help in the long-term to know that.

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through right now and I as a fellow dog-owner who has been through what you’ve just been through too many times, you have all my sympathy.

  39. Joe as i read your entry today I couldnt help tearing up having been through that same day with our pug nearly a year and a half ago. Your blog helped us, seeing the photos and exploits of your pack made it hurt a little less. The fact that you mentioned and linked my little man Ugg for me meant the world to us and made two life long fans

    Everyday since Maximus was diagnosed my wife has repeatedly been saying how she hoped he would be ok, we both did. I wish that their was something that we could do to help you and yours in this horrible time, at the very least please try to trust your instincts and not feel guilty they really do tell us when its time.

    – Adam, Francine and Spock (A frenchie – yeah we fell in love with yours!)

  40. Joe-

    Don’t ever feel that there was more you could have done for him. You went through heroic measures, and you gave him the absolute best, as you do for all of your family and friends. You have absolutely nothing to feel bad for, medical science just isn’t there yet. I’m sure you have had pets pass away before, and they are all special. You never really get over the loss, but eventually you do get to a place where you can remember them without the tears.

    Okay, so lets try to change the subject.. Is Akemi glad to be home? Have you met her family before? I don’t remember reading about that in any previous posts. I am also interested to hear about any differences in your visit this year compared to last year, ie, continuing aftermath of the horrible tsunami.

  41. I’m so sorry, Joe. I tried to leave my condolences yesterday but I couldn’t see the comment form through my sunglasses. It’s still pretty hard to see.

    I think I’ve only commented once before, but as a longtime lurker, I feel like I know your dogs’ faces as well as those of my own, and it’s heartbreaking when a familiar face goes away.

    Again, so sorry.

  42. I hadn’t visited the blog in a few days and then I opened the page and I found out about poor Maximus this morning. I’ve been trying to come up with the right words, but I’m just going to say I’m sorry for your loss and I’ll miss him too. He was just as lazy as I am and by the looks of it, the little fella had the same ferocious appetite. Even though I had never met him and I’ve never had a dog of my own, I’ve always found doggies to be a wonderful and fascinating bunch. I’ll also miss the amusing anecdotes and the pictures of Maximus that you published every now and then. They were always uplifting.

  43. I didn’t cry after reading yesterday’s post, but this one has me bawling my eyes out. Max was my favorite of your dogs – thanks so much for sharing him with us in words and pics.

    Take care and safe travels Joe.

  44. Heya, hope you were able to get a lot of rest. You have to be properly rested to go do the Tokyo adventures, like macarons. If you do nothing else, macarons. Yes, I sound like a broken record.

  45. Joe,

    It’s been over three years since I had to put my Wacko down. I still miss him at times. I hope that feeling never goes away. My memory of that day still vivid, as well as the emotions I went through, I remember how hard it all was. I decided then that I wouldn’t let those feelings go away. Subside, yes, but never escape my memory. I felt it was my way of honoring my great friend. Now, so many years later, I feel it has accomplished that. He’ll always have a piece of my heart.

    Every person is different, we all react to these situations differently and they also affect us to varying degrees. This is something that has worked for me over the years and I’m so glad I decided to do it. He occupied a good piece of my heart when he was with me so why not let him still have even just a tiny piece of it now? I remember him fondly, knowing he was unique and that I was blessed to be with him when he was here. I KNEW he loved me as much as I loved him. That’s all I could ask for and I rest in that knowledge and it comforts me, to this day.

    Its a rough road ahead, that’s for sure. Just know that there are many of us here who have been there before and are right with you now.


  46. I’m a long-time reader of your blog (haven’t checked in for a few days though). As many others have said I’ve grown to love love dogs I’ve only met through this blog.

    I am so sorry to hear about Maximus. Your updates on him were an unplanned comfort to me when my four-year-old cat Mikey took suddenly ill New Year’s night. He suddenly and without warning lost the use of his hind legs due to an almost 100% fatal spinal blood clot. The little guy staged a little rally on the 2nd but he couldn’t maintain it. He passed on the 3rd with my mother and I with him.
    I was a bawling mess but I didn’t care who saw it.

    That night I read your blog — more than one entry. You gave me comfort. You knew where I was coming from. You understood my pain and anguish. Thank you.

    Please take comfort from those who have written. It is very obvious that you were a wonderful daddy to him. I know you and Akemi are heartbroken. Give some extra lovin’ to Jelly, Bubba and Lulu, they’re hurting too. Mikey’s twin brother Donnie misses his brother terribly.

    I would like to make one small correction. Some have mentioned that Maximus was like family. He was family.

    Again, my sincerest condolences to your family at this sad time.


  47. I couldn’t post when I first read the news. It sucks.
    When you first posted Max’s diagnosis I had to cry. Our dog Jake had the same. He lasted 4 months.
    What hurt the most was that my husband was preparing for deployment to Afghanastan and Jake having been through Micheal leaving twice before became very needy and just depressed. 3 days before Michael was supposed to leave, he pulled his gear bags out and packed them. Jake sat down beside them and seemed to just give up. He had been holding his own, brittle hair, no appetite, obviously in pain up until then, but still willing to interact. When he watched Michael pack the bags to leave we could both see him decide to quit. It was in his eyes.
    The day before he shipped out my husband and I took Jake to the vet for the last visit.
    It still sucks.
    You have my prayers,

  48. Yep, crying again. When my two goldens died (on their own), their eyes did shut. First time we took the body of Sam to the vet, where we said our goodbyes and I had an incredibly wonderful experience. I was petting him rhythmically and I felt like I went to some higher meditative state. I had my eyes closed. A vision then popped into my head, foggy at first, but then becoming more clear. There was Sam, sitting next to a young boy. Sam did his greeting–wiggled his butt and barked at me–and then I recognized the young boy–it was my baby who died at about the age he would have been. Tears of joy started rolling down my face. I said to Jeff, “Sam’s with Matthew.” Jeff, annoyed,said, “Oh COURSE he’s with Matthew.” I said, “No, you don’t understand. I can SEE them.” And then the vision went away, Matthew raised his hand up to say goodbye and then the vision was gone. This is my Sam, our wedding present to each other. This was my Sam, who after I lost Matthew, laid his head on my lower abdomen when I got back home and in the days ahead comforted me when I cried, which was quite often. Matthew & Sam had a connection. And now they were together and they are waiting for me when it’s my turn to leave this planet. I don’t think it was wishful thinking. It was too real of an experience for me to describe how I just felt I was tuned into the right frequency at that precise time. I wrote my dog this poem (the poem is copyrighted):

    Angel on earth, such a joyful face
    Filled with unconditional love, filled with Heaven’s grace
    With eyes that could pierce your soul, and a smile to warm your heart
    All the innocence of a child, all the charisma of a star
    The day that death came for him, we knew something wasn’t right
    But as with all things, he befriended it and ran into the light
    My heart is so heavy, the house a hollow place
    Shadows of my Golden, sequestering the space
    He was more than just a dog, he was more than just a friend
    And now he plays with my son, who died, until I see them once again

    Thinking about it still makes me cry. I don’t think you ever “get over” a death of someone, pets included. You just learn how to live life differently.

  49. “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

    It’s a quote from “The Sirens of Titan”, my favorite novel. Though I met neither you not Maximus, from what I have read on your blog over the years, is that you both loved each other. In the end, that’s all that matters.

  50. I have had my dogs cremated and taken a portion of their ashes to help fertilize a new Dog Wood tree in the yard.
    Now everytime I look at the trees I see them sitting under the branches.
    I have instructed my daughter that when I go, to plz mix my ashes with the dogs and plant another new Dog Wood.

  51. Joe you are the greatest dog dad. You gave Max every chance and hope there was. And just like many had mentioned, you knew when it was time to let him go. Don’t regret putting up a galiant fight for a dear friend. Right now the grief is raw. But you have one wonderful thing. You have 3 other babies to go home to, who need you. When I had to put my dog to sleep about 6 years ago, I would go home each day to a cold, quiet, lifeless house. It was by reading this blog that gave me the courage to get another dog three years ago. My crazy beagle. So enjoy your Tokyo trip. At home your other babies are waiting for you, and the warm memories of Maximus will be there for you too. Thank you for sharing his life with us.

  52. Joe, you did all you could possibly do to love and care for Max. He knew it and loved you for it. I think it was his time and you gave him the respect he deserved and was there for him in the end. It was a loving thing you did for him. That was better than to die while you were gone. so don’t feel guilty; you did everything and more than most would do. Enjoy your time in tokoyo. Let yourself enjoy every minute. Don’t think about home yet. It will be there for you to deal with later. Your love for Max is not measured in how much time you spend thinking about him, but rather in the way you cared for him. No dog could be taken care of in a better fashion than he was. Let yourself feel good about that.

  53. I have had problems in recent months connecting wireless in hotels. Almost all hotels have a dataport in the rooms. so I always carry a cable or usually the front desk will have them. that way I can still connect in the room.

  54. Joe,
    I always read but don’t usually write, in this case I am compelled to share my sympathy for you. Being younger, while I have not yet had to make the decision you made, I have twice had to fully experience the loss of a cherished pet and will inevitably have to do it many more times in my life. Dogs are truly man’s best friend, always eager to see you, never angry and a joy to be around.

    I especially remember my Annie, a Yorkie we had from the time I was in third grade until after college. She was essentially with me for my entire life when it was time and to this day I can’t recall her without shedding a tear.

    We just have to remember Maximus, like Annie, lived a full life loved by many and adored by many others merely by you chronicling his adventures here on your blog.

    To slightly subvert an exhortation from the LaSallian tradition of education, Live Maximus in your heart forever!

  55. I’d missed a couple days of post, too much work, too little time. So instead, I read the last couple days, as all one set. I read them with tears running down my cheeks and my dog laying on my feet, because you know, animals seem to know when you’re feeling strong emotions. Who that has ever loved an animal and had them for years has not been in your shoes. It is never easy and that is probably as it should be.

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, that Akemi had to, but if there is one thing to take comfort in, it is that maximus if he could ever have a choice of how to go, it would be on your lap with Akemi petting his head.

    Bless you both. Hugs.

  56. I can’t imagine how hard it was to write yesterday’s and then this post, I like everyone else is tearing up from reading your brave words sharing with the world about how you are feeling and the whole process. Thank you so much for allowing us into your life like this, it really is a privilege and an honor that you respect and care about your fans that much that are willing to share such difficult times with us even though most of us have never met you, nor in most cases do you have any idea who most of us are.

    I may not always be into all the stuff you will ever write or produce, but I, like I am sure many others are, will be a lifelong fan and supporter of yours. You sir are an amazing person, don’t believe anyone if they say otherwise.

    And I think we would all understand if you wanted to take a few days away from this blog to have some time to yourself to relax and gather your thoughts. We will of course be here either way.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you especially during this trying time.

    PS: Glad you made it Tokyo safe and sound.

  57. I’m saddened to hear of Maximus’ passing, however he is no longer in pain. I cried when I read your post, couldn’t believe I was crying over a dog I never know. But it was your obvious love for him and turmoil over what to do that really touched me.

    You can be a hard arsed b@stard at times in your blog, but underneath it all, you’re full of love for your dogs and those you care for.

    Hope you have a great trip to Japan with Akemi, she is a great support to you and I am sure you will be greated by your doggie family with gusto on your return home.


  58. I’m so very sorry about Max. Such a difficult decision to make. We have lost two dogs and I still miss them and think of them. Very hard. My sympathies.

  59. I’m so sorry Joe. It’s the hardest thing ever. Your story is so similar to mine, I was crying for you and for my dear Abby again. They are dear friends. You did your best for him even when it broke your heart to do it. That’s love!
    My prayers for you and yours.

  60. Hey Joe,

    Im so sorry to hear about Maximus, i couldnt even read through the entire entry today, it sounded terrible for you and Akemi to go through that. Hopefully things are going better for you on your trip.

  61. You made the right decision about Maxi. So sorry for your loss (that’s such an inadequate phrase isn’t it) how about hugs, love, kisses & some tears for you.
    Take care.

  62. Amazing how attached I have gotten to Maximus and all your dogs even though I have never met you or the dogs in person. Second entry in a row that I cried. So sorry for your loss, and like @DRLDeBoer above not sure that is adequate.

    I know how hard it can be to loose a pet, and hope your time in Tokyo can provide some comfort or at least distraction at the very least.

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