Monday, May 31, 2010


MAXMOM here...

Tribute to Max from Kathleen Coy on Vimeo.

Dear friends,
I am posting this up so that you might all see this amazing tribute video by
(Thank you, Kathleen!)
I just had to share it with you all.

Many, many thanks also to Mimi, from
for helping me put up this post
(I am terrible with the technicalities of videos)
Sending lotsaluv to all my friends across the globe

Sunday, May 30, 2010


MAXMOM here...
Hello there to all our friends across the globe!
The current cold front hanging over Johannesburg is...what shall we say...
After a number of months of sunny weather, we are again reminded that it is indeed winter.
doesn't seem to mind in the least! As far as he is concerned he is enjoying the best of times over the past 10 years...
If it's cold weather, the KING demands that our laps be lined with feather duvets.
(Yes! The above picture is REALLY my lap! My legs are on either side of him - under the duvet)
Either that, or he is perched on his throne...
Geesh! It's tough being a KING!
The ripples from our past week, as far as my family are concerned, seem to have settled into normal routine.


are the ones who are battling to cope with the hole in our hearts.
Tammy cuts a lonely figure in our passage...
She often retreats outside, in the shade of Max's tree, to spend quality time with his raw-hide bone.
For those who don't know, it's her heirloom which she has been strictly guarding and toying with.
But sometimes the silence is too much and she'll return for an ear-rub...

My walks with her have improved as she's now looking for me instead of Max (I think).
She's a tentative little girl...

It's also a metaphorical winter for my writing, so I'm going to keep this blogpost short. Max's ashes were returned to me on Friday. The finality is stark.
  How long does the heaviness of heartbreak last?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


MAXMOM here...
(Our special little memorial at home)

In terms of dog dynamics, Max was a formidable presence! Not only was he statuesque, strong, vital and robust, but he kept his pack firmly in line. He had so many facets to his temperament. There was his gentler side where he’d let my chickens sit on his back or Miss R’s hamster on his paws and then there was his dominant side, which was not negotiable.

In our household, I was leader of the dog pack. As my primary companion, Max took his role seriously. From a human’s perspective, I think we would consider him selfish. You see, he didn’t share! As far as his toys were concerned, they were his and his alone! Bones and treats belonged to him and I would have to separate the dogs in the four corners of our property so that they would each be able to enjoy their own. When he was finished his however, and the other pack members were still busy, he merely annexed them. As a strong and vital dog, they didn’t argue.
was brought into this household when Maxdog was one year old. Max and her bonded immediately. They played with each other incessantly and basically grew up together.

For practical purposes, Tammy was spayed at 9months of age. She has the softest, calmest temperaments in a dog that I have ever come across. She is gentle and quiet and will submit to anything – except the two Malteses in this household. She has never snapped at anything and she drew most of her confidence from Maxdog.
Maxdog was her hero and she would do anything for him!
It was impossible for us to really play with TAMMY-GIRL, because her devotion to Max didn’t allow it. We tried by taking her out on her own, but she didn’t want it.
She wanted Max and that is how we let her be.
Over the years she did take over what she obviously construed as her responsibility – like the Hadedah Ibises and doves in our garden.

She hates them beyond measure. She’ll stalk them, she’ll chase them, she’ll patrol the perimeter to secure it from them. This is her domain.
But she only took it on because Maxdog wasn’t really interested.
Now that Max has gone, and as most of you have picked up, Tammy needs attention. She is confused without him.
She won’t go near his toys, but she will sleep in the places he slept and will hide her nose in the cushioning...

 It is my role now to try and develop her confidence and self esteem. I think I will have to invest in some ‘toys’ which don’t have Max’s smell on them and which she might take on as her own!
It’s interesting that she’s annexed his raw-hide bone, but won’t touch his toys and it’s also interesting how the other dogs are reacting to the changes with Maxdog’s departure.
Tammy has usurped the bone!!!
It is clearly hers!!! 
When she is not mouthing it, it is left on the lawn, in the shadow of the tree where Maxdog sometimes lay and the other dogs don't go near it!

Sometimes she chews on it and sometimes she shakes it and tosses it in the air.
 It’s almost a celebratory ritual of the fact that it is now hers.
 It’s quite incredible to watch!

My walks with her in the evening have been much quieter.
Being a gentle, obedient soul, I don’t have my arm pulled incessantly.
Rather, she walks quietly besides me all the time looking around for Max. He was her shield on the walks when other dogs barked or attacked. He was also her playmate when they charged down to the green patch...she’d always wait for him before she darted off. Now she still charges, only to interrupt her stride and look back...
”Where is Max?”
Instead of feeling sorry for Tammy (which I do), I have been enlightened by some of my blogging friends, that perhaps I should view Tammy as Max’s heirloom for me.
I find this notion beautiful and I am sure to take it on!
Thank you!
 With treats, lots of love and cuddles as well as systematic encouragement, perhaps she will emerge into a more confident dog despite her age of 9 years.
She discovered last night that she loves licking yoghurt containers.
(Something previously reserved for Max)

She has discovered that it’s actually quite easy to climb onto my bed and receive cuddles...
She is discovering that she may be top dog and she will have to rise to the role.
In the meantime...
is a really happy chappy!
He is quite comfortable with the new arrangement and the absence of Max. He can now happily play with balls without them being stolen and he has far less competition. At the moment he’s a bundle of energy!

As for little old TOMMY (the “boarder” as we jokingly call him because he was my late mother’s dog), I don't think he is aware of any changes whatsoever. He is fifteen years old now and has a number of health issues, so he sleeps all the time. We will probably also have to say goodbye to him soon. I think it will be easier for me to say goodbye to him because it is something I have expected and will probably be a relief for both him and I. Oh dear, the joy of dog ownership!

Thank you to you all for your immense support for me during this time. I am spending my time writing (Max’s book) and have not been visiting your blogs. Please accept my apologies. As the healing process advances, I will visit, but perhaps not for now. I will probably only be writing these blogposts because I find both writing and your comments enormously strengthening. I hope you can find it in yourselves to understand and not be offended...I just can’t visit at the moment!
Sending lotsaluv to you all, my special, special cyber-friends!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


MAXMOM here...

I miss my Maxdog terribly!

I know this is “grief” and quite normal for us humans, but I feel like my chest is being squeezed to the point of bursting. My body aches as I try to curb my habits of calling for him, feeling him constantly by my side and hearing his tail thump on the floor in response. It’s the sounds that he used to make, which now are absent from my home, which really get to me.

For the past ten years Max has been within five meters of me for most of the time, 24/7, and I have to find a way to relieve this immense sense of loss. Writing about it helps. It’s an odd kind of catharsis but it has always worked for me. If it helps, I will continue to write my heart out!


I miss the sound of his deep moan at the end of the day which preceded his contented sleep.

I miss the sound of him lapping water during the night as I judged, from the comfort of my own warm bed, how much he was drinking and whether I will need to get up to replenish the water bowl for the other dogs.

I miss the sound of him rolling on his back as he invited Tammy to play in the morning and their delighted grumblings at each other as they mouthed and nipped each others’ jowls.

I miss the sound of his noisy shake when he got up from his game and that long, deep moan as he stretched himself before starting his day

I miss the sound of his paws padding down the passage and of him breaking his stride to sit and scratch the back of his neck.

I miss the clang of the food bowls. I know I still have three dogs in the house and still three bowls to fill, but the absence of his fourth bowl makes such a difference in the depth of tone during this task. The absence of the fourth measure of food grips also my soul.

I miss that deep guttural sound he made, like a soft “ggggt...ggg”, when he knew he was about to get his favourite treat. It is now also sadly absent.

I miss the peaceful sound of his shallow breathing which was constantly by my side.

The joy of his bark when I mentioned the word, “Walk!”. And I miss the sound of my pair of Goldens running trenches in our passage in anticipation of the outing.

I miss the echo of sound, in the cul-de-sac, of eight paws on the tar as they charged down to the grassy patch each evening and the sound of his deep bark as he announced himself to the neighbourhood. I miss the sound of his heavy breathing at the end of his lead which indicated his urgency to get going on the second stage of his walk.

The sound of streaming water when he emerged from the top step of the pool after his swim is also absent. So is his “Moan” as he asked me, in absolute obedience and trust, if he could enter the house despite being a wet dog.

Even the sound of him urinating in his favourite spot in the garden and letting it “all out” in spurts is a stark reminder that he has gone. I miss the sound of him rustling through the deep foliage of the wild rhubarb in our garden and I miss the heavy sound of him running around the house when I beckon him from the back to the front.

I miss that sudden intake of breath and sudden, but absolute silence when he’s on high alert and I just knew that he was in full male golden stance.

I miss Max talking to me...his familiar “mmmmm......Om!” when he wanted me to understand him and had taken the time to try and tell me something. The imagery of this is heavy because I can almost see and feel his tongue trying to shape the “O” sound and how he resolved the dilemma by merely licking his nose.

I miss the sound of him rolling on his back, in total exhilaration, in the passage after a scratch and the deep moan which emerged from somewhere deep inside him.

But it is the absence of his thumping tail on the floor to answer and acknowledge my enquiry which transforms me into aching grief. This void has prompted a complete visceral reaction in my being.

I could go on forever describing simply the sounds of him – not the gestures or mannerisms or habits – just the sounds, but it wouldn’t change anything. The fact remains...

I miss my Max! And the silence is deafening!

Sending lotsaluv to you all!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


MAXMOM here...
Dear friends,
I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the entire blogging community for the tidal wave of support, wishes of condolences and encouragement which you have left us after our dear
crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday.

It has been immensely strengthening to know that Max, through his blog, has touched so many hearts.  It is for that reason that I am in the process of moving my blogging activities to this blog.  Over the next few weeks,Max's blog will become dormant with the objective of leaving it as a legacy and testament to him. I so want his blog to become a place of sanctuary for both me and my readers to go and reflect upon the life of that beautful animal.

 Max's passing is an enormous loss for me in reality and I know it is going to take time to get "Through" my grief. It is also going to take time to adjust to a whole new way of blogging.

Although yesterday was an extremely difficult day, life moves on. My beautiful boy did most certainly
and for me that is going to be a good example to follow.

 This morning I took on the long overdue task of washing the Malteses. My three canine companions obligued me by posing together for a milli-second in the sunshine after their bath.  I realise that getting decent photographs is going to be a challenging task in the months ahead.  I was so spoiled with Max...he had no problem posing at every opportunity!

By last night, Max's old raw-hide bone had been annexed by TAMMY-GIRL.
She growled at the little dogs attempts to steal what was obviously regarded as her personal heirloom.
She has also assumed authority of her brood of geriatric male canines as she begins to internalise Max's absence...
She lies in the spots where he used to lie and she barks at disturbances at the gate.
Although it's still early, perhaps we'll have a smooth transition into our new pack heirachy.
It's not too bad.....Rolling on the grass is still on her agenda...

So too are chasing the Ibises...

(Old picture...sorry)

Then again, she has been following me around like Velcro. Perhaps she thinks that Max's absence is temporary, but I can't say.  Last night she seemed perfectly comfortable to stretch out on the whole doggie-double-bed in the corner of our bedroom without a blink of an eye.
was relegated to a small corner.

It seems that KING TOFFEE's nose might remain out of joint.

As for us humans...
The hole that Max has left is big! There are habits which I will have to patting my side when I move to another room, or igoring the small items of washing on the floor. (which he used to pick up behind me) He would always be near me and it was habitual to simply extend my hand to rub his soft ears. These are the aches that give me that all-to-familiar tightening of my throat. But yes...I will get 'through' it!

Please stay with me as I try to reshape my blogging.
...and THANK YOU for being my such faithful cyber friends.
Sending lotsaluv your way

Monday, May 24, 2010


12 March 2000 - 24 May 2010
affectionately known as...

Dear friends,
This is the day that I said goodbye to my dearest companion...

The account that follows is a graphic description of his last moments. 
I will not feel offended at all if you prefer not to read it.
Indeed, I will understand.
I need to honor my own committment to this journey : to reveal to my readers, in all honesty, the experience I have personally had with my Maxdog. His final moments, I feel, are equally important and hopefully will serve to strengthen others who are in similar heartbreaking circumstances. I write best when I am at my most emotive.

So please..
With love



The decision having been made, I found his lead and called him with me. He had been sleeping silently next to me and got up, shook himself off and went to the car with me. Together we rode the 8kms to the Vet. He sat in the back of the car, staring out the window as he’s always done. Golden sunlight was streaming through the windows, framing his features, giving him a heavenly glow. I could see the tiredness in his eyes and knew that it was time to say goodbye.

Max, the fighter that he is, would have fought to the bitter end. Had I not taken the decision, he’d have fought on, becoming more emaciated by the day. The liver tumour took up most of his abdominal cavity, yet he pushed on and lived life to the absolute overflowing.

I parked the car outside the Vet’s surgery, retrieved my handbag and went around to open the boot of the car. With ears alert and eyes alive he jumped out of the back. His first point of call was the bush on the lawn. This is where he left his last news of the day.

Thankfully there was only one other person in the waiting room – a lady whom I’d rubbed shoulders with many years back. Max immediately went to greet her, wagging his tail the way he always did with new people. She responded in the way people always responded to Max – rubbing his fur and telling him what a handsome boy he was. His tail said it all. He loved people!

She stopped chatting with him for a while and went to settle the administration she had come to settle. Then she turned back to me, sat down and told me all about how she had recently lost a Golden retriever of her own. Then she asked, “What is he here for”. There was no other way of saying it, but honestly.

“I’m here to put him to sleep” I said. Her face turned ashen as she struggled to comprehend what I was saying. You see, Max always looked good, even when he was dying. He hid his illness well, refusing to accede to it. When not soundly asleep (which had been most of the time in his 107days of grace) he was reaping life for all that it offered except for his eating. He had taken to refusing to eat. In his last few days he'd accept nibbles form me, but would keep them in his mouth and spit them out later. Either that, or he'd bury them. But he remained comfortable with an affectionate disposition.  My prediction was that he would have wagged his tail to the end, no matter how ill he had become. His tail would be the last to leave him, I am sure of that.

“Shall I stay?” she offered.

“Don’t worry!” I said, “I’ll be okay”, but my tears had started.

My usual Vet was otherwise occupied, but the new Vet – a young, gentle and beautiful woman – came out to meet me. I called Max to come and he obediently followed me into the consulting room. Again he was wagging his tail in greeting and started making friends with this new person. She petted him, looked to me and asked me what she could do for me.

I recapped Max’s history, the successful removal of the Mast Cell tumour in November 2009 and then the heartbreaking news in February this year (2010) that his liver was compromised with a large tumour. I went on to explain all that had happened to him recently. She then examined him and was taken aback at the size of the tumour. It occupied most of his abdominal cavity. Underneath his thick fur, he’d become obviously emaciated.

Together we decided that it would be best to put Max to sleep. His condition was both irreversible and fatal and there was no guarantee of a pleasant passing. It was time to say good-bye. She left me with Max and said she would return soon. I asked him to “Down” and he did. I told him to “Dead” and he lay on his side like he'd been taught. I sat on the floor and told him it would be okay, that we would all be okay, that it was time to go. I hugged him and spoke to him while he thumped his tail on the floor. That was the most heartbreaking moment for me.

“Nicolle” returned and set up the needle. She wanted to call someone else, but I refused and told her I would help her. I held Max’s arm whilst she administered the final dose. I tucked my other hand under his chest so that I could feel his heartbeat. All the time, he thumped his tail on the floor. My Max was going to be a thumper to the last. He let out his last audible sound and then he was gone. His heart had stopped under my palm. She confirmed this with her stethoscope. Then she gently consoled me and said that I could stay with him until I was ready to leave. It had been quick and painless.

I held him as my tears flowed. I could feel his warm but lifeless body in my arms. His spirit had left his body, yet it was still present in the room. I held him like that for what seemed ages and then I gathered up his lead and opened the inter-leading door to indicate that I was finished. That beautiful, gentle Vet, with her soft, acknowledging manner reaffirmed that what I had done was an act of love. A very difficult act yes, but an act of love nevertheless. I had granted Max the dignity which he deserved.

When I entered the waiting room, I fell into the arms of that same woman who had met Max. Together, this stranger and I cried in each other’s arms. Then she left.

...and sadly I didn't get her name!

Thank you, ‘stranger’ for being my angel when I needed it. You have no idea how much your gesture meant to me.

Fly free, my sweet Max!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


MAXMOM here...

Hello there to all my readers!

I have been put up to a challenge of writing something entirely different today, so here goes...


The birth of my first child, so many years ago, left me in a state of awe and wonder!
How was it possible that something so perfectly made had landed in my lap?
I was in awe of the detail that went into the physiological planning of such a small human being and admired the power behind my child's creation.

It was soon after that when I joined up with a group of women to learn the art of 'cloth doll making'. We were a small, enthusiastic group who put our sewing needles to cloth and churned out these dolls. They ranged from dolls that were the size of actual babies (with all their parts) to miniture creations of similar type. The dolls were fully jointed and their eyes were either embroidered or painted.  Careful attention was paid to their toes, fingers and belly-buttons alike. The unusual thing about these dolls was that they were literally sculptured from the inside out.

One of the standard tools of doll making was a long, sturdy needle which served to pull the stuffing in various directions on the inside of the doll and to anchor it somewhere on its body. Standard patterns were handed out, yet each one emerged from the creator's hands as absolutely and totally unique.

The picture above is of my own miniture creation, "Cheryl" - donned in a leotard because she was inspired by a friend who was a gym fanatic. I too was an aerobics instructor at the time and despite  the realms of physically in-shape and beautiful women in my classes, only ever found one who was satisfied with the way she looked. Most women grumbled about their extra weight and their rolls of fat or their wrinkles. They never seemed to say anything positive about themselves.
The only positive woman I ever found was a paraplegic who only had the use of her arms.  She was an inspiration in her appreciation for her own body and what it could do despite her disability. Although she is dead now, I will never forget her.

This little doll, "Cheryl", reminds me so much of that time.
The doll stands about  10cm tall and is fully jointed.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, I will never forget the feeling of making this doll.
When the final stitch was put in place, I sat back and looked at it and thought that it was the most beautiful thing in the world.  I had paid such attention to its detail, ensuring that every part was perfectly placed. Each little dimple had been designed to create character and the eyes were painted with a small little white dot which served to bring it to life.

It makes me think about the process of our own creation.
It leads me to wonder about folk who look at themselves, particularly at their own bodies, without admiration for the designer.
I wonder what I would feel like if my own doll were to come to life and made disparaging remarks about how it looked. I would have felt gutted to think that my beautiful handiwork had been rejected by the doll itself. Does not our Maker feel the same way?

So it begs the question...

How then would our own Maker feel if we slandered ourselves?
How would He feel if we didn't appreciate his handiwork or kept saying negative things about ourselves?
Is it not more appropriate to appreciate and celebrate our God-given abilities?
Each one of us has been specifically and uniquely created?
Is it not time to look at ourselves with a measure of positivity?

It's just a thought!

Wishing everyone a really happy Wednesday!
With love

Monday, May 10, 2010


MAXMOM here....
Hello there everybody!
I hope all the wonderful "mommies" out there had a wonderful weekend and a happy mother's day yesterday. My apologies if I've not got to your blogs recently. We too had another very busy weekend here in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Its Autumn weather here at the moment and the trees are losing their leaves at an alarming rate. The above two pictures were both taken on Saturday (Before and after)...that tree had a good dump in a matter of hours!

This is what our garden looks like at the moment!
mmm...I think I have some raking to do!...
We were out quite a bit this weekend and the Maxpack was relegated to the patio for the time we were away...

On Saturday we got a taste of what the shopping centres are up to in the preparation for the Soccer World cup next month. At Northgate shopping centre there were quite a few attractions.
Stalls of South African souveniers were strewn all around the walkways. Take a look at that lady behind the counter...she has a dress on made out of the SA flag!...

The South African National Parks board were also there - educating the public about our parks and our wildlife The lady is showing the child what the teeth of a warthog look like...

There was a very interesting display of sculls. (Below)
The larger sculls in the front row are (LtoR)
A baboon, A lioness, a wild dog, and a male lion. You will recognise the tortoise shell in the back row. On its right is the scull of a hyena. On the left of the picture you will notice the porcupine quills and an Ostrich egg...

There was an interesting write-up about some famous large tuskers...
Below: The scull of a rhino and a fibreglass model of its horn...

Antelope horns (Below):
 Back left are the horns of the largest antlope (Eland). The long straight horns are those of our beautiful Sable antelope.

The scull of a crocodile...

Yesterday (Mother's Day) we took the family out to
(The Cradle of Humankind)
Our flag is flying high on my own car.
With the build up to the Soccer World Cup there are many cars on the road who are sporting flags...we have to get into he spirit!...

"Africa is the birthplace of humankind. This is where our collective umbilical cord was buried."...

This is the entrance to the Maropeng exhibition centre...

Inside it has about four/five floors...

...We welcome visitors from all over the world...

Our visit to Maropeng was primarily to have lunch at their restaurant, so we didn't go on a wide-scale tour. These are just a few interesting things on our way to the restaurant...
Many rocks on the pathways are engraved with interesting information...

This is the other side of the Maropeng exhibition centre. The restaurant has a outdoor deck (next to the railings)..

These are life-scale (or fossil scale) replicas of the early homonoid species...
I was most amused at a parent who was standing next to me who explained to their child:
"This is what happens if you don't eat your vegetables!"
The view over the 'cradle' and the Magaliesberg Mountains from the deck of the restaurant...
The walking paths are lined with 'thatch' grass - typically South African and used to make thatch roofs for houses...

It's good to be cautious!...

Famous "Mrs Ples" replica...
There are a few shops to explore too...

Well that was my mother's day...
besides all the wonderful gifts from my two beautiful daughters!
Thank you, family, for a great day!
With love to all my friends across the globe
(I hope you enjoyed my 'touristy' post?)