The hardest thing I did today was put my socks on. A weird reality, and thankfully nothing to do with age or flexibility, but Max and I had a morning ritual where he knew the sound of the sock drawer opening. As soon as he heard it, he would rush into the room and then make it impossible to complete the task in hand, as he would clamber onto my lap for a big cuddle. Of course, in a practical sense, it was much easier to physically put my socks on without eight stone of Rottweiler getting in on the act, but knowing he would never again be coming in to claim his morning snuggles made the task the toughest it has ever been today.
If you're here reading this, it is likely you are already aware that it is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to let you all know we lost Max, our very special Rottweiler, on Monday 10 October.
As many of you know, he had been poorly for a couple of weeks beforehand, with symptoms that were not easily pointing to any one cause. We worked closely with our vet, with several visits to see him and in the latter days, him coming out to Max to assess his condition and try and get him better.
On Monday afternoon, our vet made the call to refer Max to a specialist hospital in Weston Super Mare for an emergency blood transfusion. Up until this point, the treatment Max had been receiving was to try and counter-act a suspected ingestion of some sort of poison. His symptoms were mainly signs of internal bleeding and a lack of ability in his body to clot his blood.
When we got him to the hospital, they took him straight into their Intensive Care Unit and then spoke to us after an initial assessment. Their immediate diagnosis was not a poison, but thrombocytopenia, which is a condition where the platelets in the blood reach low levels. They explained he was extremely poorly and gave us a 50:50 chance of recovery. We knew we had to go ahead and try for that chance, so they continued with treatment, organising an initial blood transfusion and other interventions to stabilise him.
As we were two hours away from home, they suggested we start to head back and they would update us on his progress over the phone. The next two to three hours were critical for his recovery, so we knew news within this window would likely not be good. Just before 6pm, when we were around 90 minutes into our journey home, that call came. The lead vet treating Max explained they had been able to stabilise him to some degree, but once they had managed this, they did some further tests and investigation, to discover he had sustained a bleed on his brain stem. This had led to reduced brain function affecting his ability to swallow, eyesight and gag reflex. More damage may also have occurred, but these were the immediate signs of the impact the bleed had. She explained they could keep treating him, but the chances of success of treatment was diminished, as was the possibility of being able to recover any of those lost functions and therefore quality of life. So we made the decision with the vet that the kindest thing would be to let Max go peacefully.
As you can imagine, it has been an utterly heart-breaking time for Roy and I. Max was such a special and loved boy, by more than just us. He had a big fan club amongst our regulars, as well as friends and family. His loss has left a big, goofy hole in our lives, hearts and the pub. We want to say a huge thank you for all the love, well-wishes and hugs that have been sent his way and the condolences sent since; it has helped us process our loss and grief all the more easily knowing he was so loved and had such a big impact in his short life.
We also want to say a special thanks to our friend, teammate and part of our Bell Inn Family, Georgia, for looking after our other two boys, Patch and Stanley, whilst we took Max to hospital and being an absolute rock since we lost him. We know you loved the big fella just as much as we did, as he did you.
When life gets tough and seems completely unfair, we often turn to words from others who have a better way of explaining how we're feeling and this is no exception. This poem puts across so much of our thoughts and feelings since Max passed, so I am handing over to Jim Willis, with a couple of small edits for which I hope he will forgive, to help me finish this hardest of messages:
We Loved You Best
So this is where we part, our friend,
and you will run on, around the bend,
gone from sight, but not from mind,
new pleasures there, you'll surely find.
We will go on, we'll find the strength,
life measures quality, not its length.
One long embrace before you leave,
share one last look, before we grieve.
There are others, that much is true,
but they be they, and they aren't you.
And we, fair, impartial, or so we thought,
will remember well, all you've taught.
Your place we'll hold, you will be missed,
the fur we stroked, the nose we kissed.
And as you journey to your final rest,
take with you this, we all loved you best.