Thursday, July 15, 2010


MAXMOM here...
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference.” (Author Unknown)


I have often wondered about this concept. What is WISDOM?

Over the years I have discovered that Wisdom cannot be obtained without the opinions of others. Although we build on life experiences and gradually acquire personal wisdom, we realise eventually that our own personal conclusions to dilemmas are wiser when the opinions of others are taken into account.

When it comes to my own personal difficult decisions, my own family has always played a big role in my life. I have learned that it is wise to allow them to have their say and then to consider what they have said, in order to make the best decision.  This notion was strongly brought to the fore during our recent trip to Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The weekend was meant to be an emotional break from all our individual stresses. In my case, it was to confront my loss of my ”heartdog”: Maxdog. It was a long journey to our destination and throughout the trip my mind milled over the many wonderful memories I have of Maxdog.

 I know that I am vulnerable when I am grieving and I know too that impulsive decisions are NOT WISE during this time.

Anyway, when we arrived at our destination, there was a little dog waiting and ready to greet us. The wag of her tail and her body language said it all...she wanted to say ‘hello’. As I stepped out of the car she stood there as if to assess what type of people occupied the vehicle. I couldn’t resist. I smiled, walked up to her and presented the back of my hand. She was delighted and for the next 10 minutes, while my husband was busy signing us in, she danced around me with great exuberance.

She seemed to come out of her shell as I played and patted her.

She displayed the common signs of de-stressing behaviour:
bowing low, stretching, yawning and becoming a hooligan for a while.
I simply sat and interacted with her

On enquiry from the management of the resort, I discovered that her name was “Merlin”. How strange! It was an obviously male name for a female dog, but cute nevertheless. They told me that she was a regular visitor to the resort.

They added that she came from the local squatter camp but spent most of her time around the cottages. They explained that she was often fed by the visitors to the resort. “Did I want another dog perhaps?” they asked me.

Their question hit me hard. My obvious unvocalised answer: “Yes, I do want another dog!”, but the question beckoned: “Is that dog Merlin?” so I simply answered, “No!”

Anyway, “Merlin” decided that we would be her friends for the weekend. We settled into our cottage and she hung around nearby, nibbling on bones that had been left there by people who had enjoyed their barbeques.

My heart was so wrenched by her story BUT she looked healthy enough: Her teeth were good (Yes, she allowed me to examine them!), she seemed well socialised; she was alert and appeared happy enough with her lot in life. The environment is exquisite there and Merlin obviously leads a life which involves romping around wherever she wants to and enjoys the freedom of the world around her. She seems to have no boundaries and no restrictions. Perhaps she does have a loving owner in the Squatter camp nearby. Who knows?!

The next morning I popped into the local supermarket and bought some dog food for her which she happily ate and then disappeared into the unknown for a while. Each day when we returned from our site seeing, Merlin was there to greet us.

Yes, we did feed her during our stay there but

I must admit, my heart really wanted to ‘rescue’ her, but my family convinced me otherwise. I said good-bye with an unsettled heart.

Now this is where “Wisdom” comes in...
 Perhaps you would like to ponder there contributing facts:

• Merlin might well have an owner and if so, my considered ‘rescue’ might be tantamount to theft.

• She has a known ‘name’ by the locals and this suggests responsibility of some sort even though she hung around our cottage.

• We had no space in our car to even think of taking her home on a 5 hour journey.

• Merlin is well socialised and seems to have learnt how to befriend the various visitors at the resort.

• Merlin looks in very good condition and is obviously well fed. Our assumptions about her lot in life might be errant.

• Merlin might well have an owner who may be using ‘visitors’ to complement her food expenses.

• Merlin would NOT fit into our dog pack without serious disruption. She is NOT a city dog and we are not in a position to offer her a home that would be easy to adjust to. Her lifestyle is one that requires open spaces and freedom to run.

• My family were not in favour of intervening in what was obviously a well working arrangement.
• A decision to take responsibility for a stray dog is not wise in the midst of my vulnerability whilst grieving for Maxdog
• There is no reassurance that Merlin is not carrying a serious disease which could substantially affect my own animals.
Sadly though...

• There are NO animal welfare organisations in the area.

• It seemed that there weren’t any vets in the area either.

• The little town is littered with animals in various unacceptable states.

• And the worst....Merlin was in season! Oh dear...another litter of unwanted puppies!

So sadly...sometimes the ‘Wisest’ decisions might not ‘feel’ the best.
Sometimes those decisions go against the grain of our emotions and sometimes it takes a while to come to terms with a decision.

I am aware that this story might prompt many different reactions from animal lovers.
Feel free to express your opinion, but please don’t judge me too harshly.
I know I have made the best decision to simply leave things be!

Live a happy life, Merlin!

Sending lotsaluv to you all...



~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

A thought provoking post Caryl! While sitting here I can say that my choice would be one thing, but I don't know if I was there seeing her, touching her, if I would have decided something else...It does take me back to a dog that we once had that belonged to a man who had been homeless for many years. His dog "Tosh" was the only thing that he treasured in this life. Mario turned Tosh who was nearly 14 into rescue and he went to live at a state run facililty. Through a series of events he was given my phone number and would call me and ask about Tosh. Long story short, he called me one day and said Tosh had come to him in a dream and told him good-bye and that he would be dying soon...Tosh who had been just fine, died a few days later--My point of the story is, that they were connected to one another and perhaps Merlin is meant to go in another direction and be or remain connected to someone else...Your bringing her home, was not meant to be.

Ms. ~K said...

C, There are so many "Merlins" out there and it breaks my heart...
I believe you made the right (albeit, very difficult) decision.

I know it was sad returning home with no Max to greet you.
Hugs to you my friend,

Maggie Mae and Max said...

Puppy prayers that Merlin stays happy and healthy. Mom and me thinks that you made the right decision too.

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Molly the Airedale said...

You considered all of the pros and cons and we think that you made the best decision.

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

A MilShelb Mom said...

I have always thought that when it comes to animals you have to first consider the ones at your own home. If it would have been bad for them then it is simply not right to do that. So, good job! I applaud your decision. And, as you mentioned, she may very well have had an owner.

Sheila and Bob said...

You weighed all the information and you decided with your heart.
Decisions of the heart are never easy.
We feel you have made the right one.

Sheila & Bob

Jake of Florida said...


I think your assessment of Merlin's situation was probably spot on. She obviously had other relationships, but also had the freedom to roam and make new friends.

It struck me that you two had kind of a brief summer (in your case, winter) romance -- lovely while it happens, lovely to think about later, but not meant for permanence.

Wisdom. Don't we all seek it wherever we can? And often find it in the eyes of our furry companions.

xxx Joan and the Barkalots

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I think I would have to cart her off to a vet to be spayed and then bring her back as she seems to be doing well with her lifestyle. Just wouldn't be able to stand the thought of her having puppies.

houndstooth said...

Honestly, I'm not sure what I would have done, but it would have been a long process of weighing the pros and cons of the situation. I just hope she doesn't end up with a litter of puppies. That's the part that would keep me up at night!

Heather and Kelly said...

I agree that leaving Merlin behind was the right thing to do. You're right in the fact that right now you are very vulnerable from Maxdog's death, and bringing home a stray that will undoubtedly have issues would lead to a lot of frustration with Merlin and more remembering that Maxdog didn't have these issues.

She is a cutie though! I do hope she has people that love her. Too bad about her being in season...more puppies! Who knows, she may have been pregnant when you saw her so if you had brought her home then you would have had to deal with birthing and then finding homes for the little ones.........

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

It must have felt good to have that experience with Merlin. When the time is right and the pup is right, you will know.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Cloud the Wonder Dog said...

I think you made the right decision as well, Caryl. You weighed all the pros and cons and listened to your heart. Merlin seems to be very happily living her life with freedom, food, and friends. I got the feeling that if Merlin were able to talk, she wouldn't want to trade that freedom even if it meant a longer life in the city. I'm glad she was there to be a friend to you during your stay.

Love and hugs,
Cloud and his mom

PS. I love how you had the photo of Max with you at the waterfall!

Amy & the house of cats said...

It sounds like it was a tough decision to make - but I think that is was the right one for everyone. It would be a very different situation if she wasn't in good health and good spirits - but other than the puppy issue (which, who know, may not happen) it sounds like she has a pretty good life. The resort people are ok with her visiting and getting food there, and maybe her owner is someone who does take care of her as best they can. If she is in good shape then that sounds like the case. If she is a dog used to running around and being free, then she would have been miserable trying to adjust to city life, even if you didn't have the others to consider. And it would be a huge adjustment for all your others too - probably a tough one. I am sure the decision was tough for you but it sounds like you made the right one.

Pip said...

Ah yes. I've been there too. But your reasoning is sound. I would likely have come to the same heart-wrenching conclusion.
I hope you had a good vacation.

Kari said...

Difficult decision, heart breaking decision.
Several years ago, I would take my morning talk by a seaside that passed in front of rows of multimillion dollar homes. There was a middle aged ginger cat who would visit with me when I sat on one particular bench by the sea wall. He and I fell immediatrely for each other and I looked forward to his company each day. We were soulmates with out a doubt. I later learned he was sort of a neighborhood cat that people in the area fed. He looked fit for an older fellow. Let me say that at this time my life was very complicated.
So months went by and I noticed the cat slowing down and getting thinner. Somehow, he had become less welcome in his neighborhood and on one chill rainy day I found him wet and shivering. I took him home. He slept the sleep of death for three days finally being able to rest without fear or worry. He arose only to eat and use his box. He wanted nothing to do with the outside ever again. When he saw me open a door to the outside, he ran the other way. He was the love of my life. I regretted all of those extra months that I could have had with him if I had just used my heart as my guide. How stupid of me to buy into that "freedom" nonsense. He had suffered not having a real home and I had suffered not having him. Someone once told me not to miss the present while mourning the past or you may loose a gift of love that is right in front of you. Love doesn't always come when it is convenient or you are ready for it. So we need to keep our hearts open or loose our chance.

Jacqueline said...

A sweet, thought provoking, heart tugging story...Of course, you made a wise decision for you and for Merlin, although with a loving heart, it is not always easy to listen to your head!...Merlin is obviously happy and well socialized, although I wish she had the means to be spayed for her own sake as well as future babies...It would be wonderful if she were there for your next visit!...Blessings of love and health to sweet Merlin and to you as well, lovely Caryl.

Piappies World said...

Welcome back MaxMom!

It is great to see you meet a friend in Merlin. Your photo together is really nice. We do think you made a wise decision. Perhaps, Merlin is happy running free and meeting new people in the resort. She may not have gone home with you but she may look forward to your next visit.

It's sweet of you to have "Max" included in your photo by the falls.

We hope to hear more about your trip.

Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai & Wai-Max

the booker man said...

i think you made the right decision, too. as hard as it was to leave merlin behind, it sounds like she does have people who care for her (maybe even an owner) and bringing her home might have been a transition that she would not adjust to.

3 doxies said...

Wow, this is definately a thought provoking post. However, I think ou made the right decision as well. As much as I love animals and can't stand the thought of one being in first resposibility is to my own three dogs. There structure and health is too important.
But, I do have the feeling that Merlin is "owned" by alot of people. They seem to take care of her as far as food is concerned. I wish she could be spayed but as you said, there doesn't seem to be a vet around. That is just a whole other can of worms though.
I'm glad you din't make an impulsive decision, you've been through too much already. When the time is right you'll know.
The picture of you with Max's picture brought wonderful tears. He will always be aprt of your life and ours.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Good thoughts to Merlin. When the time is right you will know if another pup is in your future
Benny & Lily

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage said...

Puddles's Mom and I agree -

I think Merlin is there to teach many that come to visit a valuable lesson -

A lesson they take back to their friends and family as you've done with us -

I do wish someone would help her by getting her spayed -

Maybe the next wise guest can help there -

Thanks for sharing her story -

sprinkles said...

Reading this post made me tear up a little bit. I didn't realize just how much I still miss Max.

I'm glad you made a friend in Merlin. As for your decision to leave her behind, it was probably the right one.

I don't know what I would do if the situation were reversed and it happened to me. It's easy to say it's best to leave her there for so many reasons. But then to actually experience her and the joy she brought you for a short time, it would be hard to walk away.

I hope she has a nice life. And if you go back to visit again someday, maybe she'll be there to greet you again!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Caryl,

I honestly believe in my heart that you made the correct decision. You were there in person and made an assessment of the situation. We do trust your Wisdom.

I can only hope that Merlin is truly loved by someone and that she lives a long and healthy life, and that she is spayed very soon.

Caryl, you will know when the time is right for a puppy. Max will let you know. I really believe that.

Hugs to you, Blu, Tessa's Mom

Anonymous said...

You know what, Maxmom? I think that dear little Merlin was probably there for a reason - to help you work through some things and better define the place where your heart is now. You made the right decision for you and for Merlin. It seems obvious that she is loved and cared for. It may not be by one person but it may be by a whole village of people who open their hearts and their dinner plates to her. :-) There are many dogs who don't have it nearly so good as that beautiful girl.

You will know when the time is right. You just will. And you won't have to question it. When Mayzie came into my life, it was entirely unexpected and unplanned. But there was no question that she was meant to be with us. It will be the same for you.

Amber (Mayzie's mom)

P.S. I absolutely love that first picture!

KB said...

What a heart-wrenching decision. But, I've always believed that a decision to adopt a dog needs to be VERY carefully considered from all points of view, including your family's view and your other animals' views. I've had to make decisions like yours before so I applaud your self-restraint. When you love dogs like both of us do, saying no is harder than saying yes.

As for the King's Tour de France prediction, I hope that he is right. He has chosen my favorite rider but I fear that Spain might be the right choice in this case too!

George The Lad said...

I think you did the right thing, she looked well and happy, may be she new you needed her presence.
Best wishes Jan

Unknown said...

If memory serves, Merlin was a wizard who through magical powers, was a shape-shifter. So perhaps this little furry girl was there to teach you that some day, maybe sooner than you think, you'll be ready to open your heart to another dog who will need your loving care. That she appeared while you were remembering life with Max is even more poignant. I believe we are always exactly where we are supposed to be, and you and Merlin were meant to share a brief stretch of road together.


Jane and Petey

Tweedles -- that's me said...

We know you made the best decision for you and for Merlin.
There is a time for everything and that time has not come yet. When it does - you will know at that moment.
I wonder how many people are touched by Merlin. I wonder how many souls she looks after. I wonder how many kisses she gets on her forhead each day.
I wonder if another soul lives in her, and she is an angel.
I wonder so much.
Sometimes, my moms don't think stuff through all the way like people think they should- my moms just seem to react to their own broken hearts and impulses.
I know this way is not best for everyone- but I do know that I am happy my moms hearts are the way they are,,,,, or,,,,,
i would not have the home
that i have i right now.
There is a time for everything, and when it comes- you will know at that moment.
You did the right thing , yes you did.

Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

First of all we wish Merlin a long and happy life. That was a very thought provoking post and it is impossible not to fel sad because of all the "Merlins" out there. We so wish that humans would behave more responsibly.

We can understand why you chose not to adopt though ~ your reasons were all valid. And we do believe that when the time comes to take on another dog, you will know instantly that it is the right thing to do, and there will be no interanl debate.

So bide your time and allow yourself to grieve. Max was and is very special. ((((((hugs))))))

Milo and Alfie's Mom

The Bumpass Hounds said...

Our dad says that when he was in college at an all male military academy with 4200 students, a stray dog moved in to the dormitory building. Against all official direction, the dog was adopted by the Brigade of Midshipmen. Freshmen plebes were even required to salute the dogs. He would spend each night in a different dorm room. He ate with the brigade in the mess hall. No problem collecting money for vet care and the dog was transported to the vet by one of the military chaplains. Many people wanted to "take" the dog home but it reality it was at home living the communal life where he thrived. The only real drawback to Merlin's situation is the inability to have her spayed. Your decision was wise, not based on emotion, and correct.

Valerie Cummings said...

You did the right thing!!! I know I wouldve been tempted too!!! Merlin was a guardian angel to let you know Max is ok!!!!! We Love YOUUUUUUUU!!!!! Hugs Joey and Kealani and Valerie

♥I am Holly♥ said...

I really think you made the right choice. I hope that Merlin has a nice life and I'm sure she enjoyed her visit with you as much as you enjoyed it with her. I was hit with a few "here's another dog for you situations" right after I lost my dog Alex and I knew it wasn't the right time. I even kept a puppy one night only to return the puppy the next day. I was not ready and my heart let me know it. Take care and lots of love to you! Debbie and Holly

Jan Mader said...

When the time is right you will know. It may not be soon. Trust me, I know. Ten years ago I lost the dog of my heart...a Newfoundland named Bud. I swore I could never go through another Newfoundland death. I grieved more than I would have ever thought. Just this year I started fostering Newfoundlands..never planning to keep one. Well, a few months ago I got 18 month boucing 120 pound boy. I knew. Sammy needed to stay with me. Ten years after the loss of Bud, I found I was ready. I just knew and so will you...

The Thundering Herd said...

I certainly can not say whether the decision was right or wrong - I was not there. There have been times when I have made snap decisions to bring a dog home (Qannik, as an example), but the lack of ownership was clear. There have also been far more times when I did not bring a dog home.

What I do think is that Merlin the Magician was working her magic on you - helping you heal. Sounds to me like Max might be looking over Merlin.