|No pictures were ever taken of Maxine, but this is probably what she looked like when she was younger.|
When unscrupulous hunters find they have dogs who have aged out of usefulness, or are ill, or aren't great hunters, they drive them out to the country, remove their collars, and abandon them. A friend of ours who lives nearby has witnessed this more than once. Two of them found their way here to the farm this year. Some years, we return fifty hunting dogs to those who tag or microchip them. Very occasionally, when we are unable to find the former owner of a dog after advertising the picture, we keep them. This has happened about four times in twenty years. Two of them came to us within the past year.
One of these dogs we named Maxine. Our son James spied her one evening this Winter on our property, terribly thin, cold and hungry. We had tried to catch her before, but she had been leery of human beings. James placed her in the isolation kennel room and visited her often. We can't adopt too many of these abandoned dogs because we have our own dogs and as they age, their veterinary expenses can be quite expensive. A new elderly dog can be quite an expense. Since we have no proof of their rabies status, we will need to get them a rabies shot, and in one year, it must be repeated. It will be every three years thereafter. Although I do all the shots on the farm, rabies shots on dogs and cats in our state must be done by a veterinarian. They also will need a heartworm test and then heartworm preventive. A starving dog can't be given large amounts of food initially. They have to be carefully fed, often with a more expensive product until their stomachs can tolerate food, and then over time, they may be able to be advanced to a more typical food. When she is well enough, they receive an annual distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and coronavirus vaccine. Maxine was an extremely elderly hound. Every one of her teeth was broken or in poor condition. The vet thought she was extremely old and that she probably had been abandoned after the last hunting season. She had also never been spayed. No one claimed her.
We decided that we would take care of Maxine, and that she could live the rest of her days here with us on the farm. She was particularly fond of the other hunting dog here. At first we started with a chicken and rice dog food which she loved. Over time, she was advanced to a grain free dry food which had small pieces. We also added a wet food to it. It didn't take long before she adored us. The elderly dog would jump like a puppy ! Despite the fact that the vet thought she was living on borrowed time, and likely had some organ damage from protracted starvation, I genuinely thought she had about the better part of a year. She had been through so much, and now finally had a family who loved her, and a group of dogs where she belonged.
Several days ago, Maxine seemed quiet. She didn't eat as well as she did normally. She was drinking well and urinating quite a bit. She is a very old dog, I told myself. This afternoon, she had a seizure, and then lay quietly in her kennel room. Our other dogs were quite upset.
At five, when I checked her again, she began another grand mal seizure. I wondered why I always lost dogs on a weekend. I surmised that she was in renal failure, and that her fluid and electrolyte imbalance was the cause of her seizures. I hoped this wouldn't go on long. We stayed with her, stroking her and speaking to her softly in between seizures. We were careful to avoid being accidentally bitten. Then I began to cry, and I put my hands together,
Thank you for bringing this sweet animal to us.
I am sorry that more of her life was not spent here with us.
Lord, please don't let her suffer like this.
She has lived a long life and she deserves to go Home, quickly and safely.
Lord, you know I can euthanize her if I have to, but I don't want to do that.
(I was referring to the fact that even loving farmers will end a beloved animals suffering with a bullet if need be, and I would have, had this gone on too long.)
Please call her Home Lord. I know that we will see her again.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
My husband said Amen.
And then, Maxine took one last breath, let it out, and died.
I looked at my husband and said, "That's the fastest that the Lord has ever answered any one of my prayers." Then we both cried.
Maxine's body has been wrapped and will be buried on the farm tomorrow.
Her soul soars back to the loving God who made her and shared her with us, and who called her home, just after five in the afternoon today.