Journal of Life with Max

Born 09-28-01, Died 11-22-07

by Nita Holstine



Rainbow Ridge, where kittens and puppies go to play when their life here with us on earth is finished.


I found the following piece and knew I wanted to keep it in Max's section. There is never a day that goes by that I do not think about the sweet fellow. We both miss him so much.

"He is your friend, your partner,
your defender, your dog.

You are his life, his love, his leader.

He will be yours, faithful and true,
to the last beat of his heart.

You owe it to him to be worthy
of such devotion."

**** Author Unknown ****


Our farm is so quiet and still. Jr. died and then Max and then Beau and then Lady. Each a little different. Randy took Max to the vet who said it was congestive heart failure. He had some good days and some awful days and then he was gone. It was so hard on us, especially Randy who lost his best buddy. Max risked his life many times to protect us that is brings sobs and tears just to think about him and his ways. 

When Beau had died, we moved Lady up to his yard. I cleaned his house and swept it out, but she would seldom go inside. After her encounter with the kitten, she went quickly downhill. She would not even wag her tail for me. Once in a while for Randy but her breathing was so heavy, like Max's just before he died. He had a cough was what had made Randy take him to see the vet. The cough went away but he never recovered. There are still his food dishes in the yard that I have left there, like they are waiting for Max to return. And I see these photos of him and I sit and sob more and the tears fall and my heart breaks. Just before he died, Oreo ran up into the path where he was lying and Max did nothing, just gave him that look that says, hey, I'm still the big dog around here. 



Max died Thanksgiving morning. He was such a brave fellow so full of life and love to be alive, the dying took away all of his strength. We'd wondered how he could keep on going. After the second round of throwing up blood, it became obvious that it was not his stomach, it was his lungs. He just couldn't breath any more. When we went out on Thursday morning, he was already gone. When I'd last checked on him before I went to bed, he was restless but calmed down when I sat and talked to him and stroked his head. He liked that. His appetite was a little better than the day before but when Randy tried to help him up on his legs, the blood came up. It broke Randy's heart but it wasn't his fault. Max just couldn't keep on going. Everything was shutting down.

We have spent the days since crying that he is now gone. Missing even the worrying about him and wondering what we could do to help. We will write more as the tears are drying up and we can better remember all the good things he did for us. 


CLICK HERE to read my notes on Max and his Congestive Heart Failure... and more photos.



I had been posting an update about Junior and wanted to check on how Max had been in his youth. He was always one to jump and scratch and bite so Junior is actually learning how to behave. He will sit and he will stop but I did get another rip down my arm today. Look inside the latest photos for one I just posted of Max. You can actually see that he is looking at you with his right eye, the one that is good. The other he cannot see from. 

Max no longer barks at rabbits though he still barks at some squirrels that sit in the tree above him and drop acorns on him. He will still try to shake the tree and barks for me to help him. I can usually shake the tree enough to make the pesky squirrel go away.

Being a daddy now has mellowed him even more. When Junior was running loose, he would play and be silly with the pup. But now, he does the serious bark, snarl and growl to let him know who is top dog. But he's never hurt Junior or drawn blood. Junior watches him and copies everything he does. 

In Junior's space, he has way too many trees to get tangled around. He does it for the attention of getting untangled. I have seen him go all day long without becoming tangled. Depends on what he's wanting. Max does get his line tangled on the cinder blocks of our front porch. He won't bark for help but he has a whine to call me with and it's like he's embarrassed that he needs help. Just fix it, please.

We used to buy the Old Roy (Wal-Mart) pouches for Max but about 60% of the time, he wouldn't eat them. Okay. Then they were recalled and I don't argue with Max anymore. He knows what food is probably dangerous. Without hesitation, he eats the Pedigree pouches. They are most expensive but in this day and age of foreign companies putting deadly things into pet food, we'll go with buying the best or making our own. (That's way off in the future.) 



Max has become the Wise Old Man. Lady appeared in about the middle of March of this year and they are quite the pair. It was love at first sniff; she was in heat and he was enamored. They could share space if it weren't for fighting over food. That is common for doggies who had been out their own with little to no food. 

Randy related that on one of their walks, it was still fairly dark in the early morning. They saw a dark shape ahead and Lady got excited and wanted to go fast and give chase. Max pulled up as soon as he saw the white stripe down the back. He put on his brakes but when still wanted to go, he grabbed her line in his teeth and pulled back on her. She stopped and with POP, they waited for the skunk to cross the pathway and move off. 

One night in the dark, I had fed Max his supper. As I went to step away, one of my feet tangled in his line. Down I fell to my hands and knees. As I struggled to stand up, Max come up beside me standing close and firm. I put my hand on his back and it was the help I needed to stand up. Now, every time I bend over, he is right there to help me get up again.

He has recently decided that he doesn't want to stay at his old house by our house anymore. Randy had been taking him down to the new house, construction site during the day and he didn't like having to spend the night. So, we've started letting him stay under the work table and he loves it. He fits just right and it doesn't leak so he doesn't get wet.



Max is indeed a very good boy. He'd protected his master (POP) from a growling coyote and several abandoned dogs along the way. When he accepted Beau and Sammy, he was the alpha dog, except for Pop is the boss of all the boys. He tolerates them and even seems to enjoy their socializing when they do get together. Lots of sniffing and paws on the head type of thing.

His new house is much to his liking. And he enjoys the light being on all the time. Not just for warmth in the winter. I like being able to check his food and water at night and see when he is inside. He has also dug a basement under the house where on very hot days, he can burrow under his house to stay cool. He has several spots out in his yard where he can either sun when the morning has been cold and then in the shade when he gets too warm. Right now he has dug a pit down to some cooler sand up near the porch but they are concrete blocks that go down about 4 foot deep and he cannot get under them. 

He is real funny about how he likes food. He likes only some flavors of Alpo and sliced chicken or beef is his favorite but even then, he likes it chopped up into smaller pieces. He likes the smaller bowls with short sides. He has started refusing food with the supplement in it. The Wal-Mart Gourmet pouches are usually the most popular but not with scrambled eggs on it. He likes the eggs only once in a great while and best when cooked in the drippings from cooking hamburgers. 

He doesn't bark unless he sees or hears something worthy of his barking. He will howl at the coyotes when they are close by and howling loud. I tell him that he cannot wake his Pop, quit the howling. If there is an intruder, bark for me and I'll get the flashlight and go see about it. That's okay until I pass him and go out into the dark without him. Oh he can sure bark intensely with lots of digging with the paws and snorting. Furious! He is a very good boy and usually minds me all the time.


A few notes while I am in the neighborhood. Max doesn't ever get off the chain or lead. He just will not mind well enough to stay instead of running off into the brush. There was one night when he'd broken his chain and I went out calling and calling since I'd seen him take off. He had just enough of the chain left to cause him trouble. We've bought the best of chain and yet he is able to pull the loops open flat. When on a walk, we must watch him or he'll wrap the chain around the feet of his human and attempt to knock us to the ground. Same with getting a running start and trying to yank the chain out of the hands. So, we wear gloves. 

I am no closer to having a place where he can run without the chain but I do have the spot in mind and will one day have it like I want it. He is just so big and strong and I don't have the time or money to just hope he gets back home without causing damage. The neighbors have goats and the new neighbor has a dog or two.


I'll get my notes started and then go and see what pictures I have that aren't here yet. Max always manages to look, well, the same. Aunt Dorothy was chuckling over my explaining what extra efforts I go to trying to get Max to eat. He has this indifference and if I don't do  enough trying, he just goes off and won't eat. I can move his bowl around, saying okay, try it here. Nope? We'll move it over just a bit. How is this? After a few moves, he will decide that it is then acceptable. Whew. He loves his scrambled eggs for breakfast but only after I take him out for a walk. No walk, no eat. Silly puppy.

Randy and Max put together Max's new house. It is straw bales stacked 2 high with the cover for the pick up bed. It will never be put back onto the pick up so it's Max's now. He seems to love the house but at night, still enjoys being outside. It was down below 40 last night and he still stayed outside. It may have more to do with the coyotes howling and not being trapped in his house. Go figure.

I am working on a fenced area where I can let him run and play while I am watching. I hated he never gets to fun fast anymore. The area has a nice tall fence but if he had a few minutes when I wasn't watching, he'd be out and gone. We'll be looking for a frisbee and ball and such fun toys.

Before it's too long out of mind, I want to make note of the time when Max and Randy were out on a walk through the back woods. Max had run ahead and was well out of sight when Randy topped a small hill. He didn't see the coyote until he'd stepped right in front of it. Max is suddenly by Randy's side and quiet until the coyote growls at his POP. Max attacked without hesitation. They went snarling into the brush with Randy calling and calling. Then a long spell of silence, no noise from the brush, nothing. Then, as suddenly as it had started, here comes Max trotting along like nothing had happened at all. Even when they got back to the house, Randy (POP) was pale and could hardly believe what had happened. This was one of the very last adventures they were able to take with Max off a leash. He proved that even Randy could not trust him to mind. The call of the pasture and the cows, the occasional skunk carcass and such were just too much. Nowadays, if your dog causes damage, you are financially responsible. We cannot have Max up to that sort of expenses. Cows cost way too much to be sued for their value. Max really thinks he's an excellent sheppard. 


Max spots a rabbit he'd like to go chase. The ground floor level of the tree house is Max's now. He moves around during the day, just to stay in the shade. When he and his Pop are out on a morning hunt, I turn on the water and soak down the sand inside. He doesn't like anything wet but it keeps him from panting in our 100 or near afternoons. 

For a long while, I tried to take him out on the chain for a 

walk but in the last month or so, Randy has started taking him on an early morning "hunt" and again just before dark in the evening. This keeps him really happy. I am the one who misses getting to go enjoy the cool morning in the woods. 

It has become obvious that Max's left eye is blind. I always thought so but Randy finally noticed that he missed things on that side that he should have been seeing. When  light is shown in his eyes (at night) the left is red and the right is a blue color. 

Max had spotted the new little kitten who took up residence under our mobile home, Min., and has stayed. Max considers him another chew toy and wants to play. Ha. He saw Sly sitting inside the door one day and just had a silly puppy fit. He thinks there is one cat and it goes and comes inside. Now, why can't he do that.

I went out to the east of our house yesterday to work on the path through the forest. Little Min decided to follow. But when Max saw that kitten was going and he was not, oh did he howl and cry and howl some more. Kitten stayed close by and always came toward the sound of my voice. 

Randy is going to write about his experience with the coyote on a hunt in the woods. He'd never known what to expect if Max came up against a real, growling, teeth bared threat. Without hesitation, he is Max the Most Brave.

Must add another note. When Max and his POP (Randy) came back from their "hunt" in the woods, Max was leading the way. For days Randy had been trying to find the connection from one clearing and another. Finally, he let Max follow his nose. Sure enough, he led the way. Just ask Max. What a puppy. And I did get out and find some odds and ins of material to make more shade for him during the day. 


01-31-03  Note the computer monitor in the background. Randy had put it out in Max's yard and said here you go, your own monitor. But Max could see his reflection in the screen and it only took him about 5 minutes to dig a big pit in front of the unit for it to fall into. What a smart puppy. He got rid of that bad doggie.



  Max minds Randy completely, belly rub please. I had to quit taking Max out when he consistently would not mind and return when I said to. Randy even lets him run the yard when it's already dark when he gets home. On weekends, they go out together two or three times. If Randy is carrying branches, Max will grab hold of the limb and help. He is quite good at untying Randy's shoes and knows what is coming by what shoes are on the feet. When it is time to go out for a romp, he dances on the tips of his puppy pads as if he has springs for bouncing. 

  Max has taken to barking when he wants something and stand staring at the door until we open it. That's fine during the day but not at 3 in the morning. And coyotes, he thinks he's suppose to howl right back at them almost as if he needs to get it out of his system, then he's okay and will quit howling.

  He has tricked both of us now by acting and standing like his chain was tangled and he was in need of help. I'd get out there and jump, jump, he tricked me again. One time Randy noticed and told me, tricked him, too.

  One day while the pop and the pup were off working in the clearing, Max came up to get a drink of fresh water. I was going to the chicken yard where he is not allowed to go and told him, go back and keep and eye on pop in case he needs something. When I went back into the house after finishing my chores, I could see him at a distance watching over his pop. I waved and he went on to another spot. He really doesn't like the brush wacker or the chain saw. I think they hurt his ears.



  This past Monday, I finally got the fence down with all the posts removed and the length pulled away to give some space to our yard. Max must stay on the chain all the time, rain or shine. When the sun is hot and the day warm, I move him to a shadier spot. He does like his house but only when it rains; otherwise, he insists on being out where he can guard his domain. 

  Max howls right back at the coyotes like he was speaking the same language. They never come up very close but most nights they are very noisy.

  I had to admit that the reason Max will not go under the house is because he is too big. He can crawl around but I rarely see him even try. I have fixed his house where he has several windbreaks and plenty of good hay to lay on. He seems to love the padding; that and his rug. He drags it all over and either uses it as a pillow for his head or just stretches out on it. Cool puppy, big puppy.



  It has taken me just over a month to realize that no fence we can build will contain the digger Max. He can squeeze through the smallest of holes, he can dig 3 feet down, 4 feet under and up another 3 feet. Absolutely amazing. Many times he has leaned over to stop me and pull out the stickers in the top of my shoes and spit them out like he does from his own feet. I watched one day while he used his teeth to untie, not break or pull or chew, but really untie a length of nylon rope, same with jute rope. He found that if he pulled on the chicken wire hard enough, the weak links would give up and he could escape. 

  I had added lengths on the top until the fence was 7 foot tall, he would find another way. Digging, pushing, pulling. Now, he is chained to posts, trees or a cinder block atop an old tire. When I didn't have time to take him to the road for a walk (on chain) I had moved him around the yard keeping him within sight. I went to move him to a new spot and he proceeded to drag me back inside his yard where he stopped in his usual daytime spot. Okay puppy.

  Yes, indeed, the Mighty Max had killed another of our hens to warrant being chained. He had been out one morning when I went outside early. He came right on in but later when Randy went to let him out, he got the hen he had killed before and proceeded to try to finish eating the bird. Randy took the bird away and buried it. Several days later, Randy lets him out again, he manages to go back and dig it up again. Enough of that. 

  Any more repair on the fence was a waste of time. So, this morning I started taking the fence apart. Randy agreed that if it were out of the way, Max could have lots more chain and room to move around. So, I took about 20 foot apart so far but have about 40 more feet just to get the mess where I can move it away. Chore for the day is to find where Max has chewed the phone cord in two and see what it will take to have a phone line again.  



  It took me 3 days in all to finish the fence but now, Max has not escaped. He howled and cried like crazy when I left him alone. Oh poor baby. He has accepted that he is not going to leave the yard again. He almost killed one of our hens before I could finish the fence the other day and that was terribly distressing. He cannot be trusted to make choices so they will be made for him. 

  One amazing thing is that keeping a squirt bottle of water has been all that is needed to keep Max from jumping and nipping. Works like a charm. You tell him no and he just keeps on. He loves to go for the back of the ankle. Ouch. Sometimes he can lightly scratch or bite but usually it rips the skin and makes the blood flow. It is best to take the water bottle and keep him from trying.



  We had a spell of clouds and rain that lasted about 5 days. There were two days that Max didn't get out for a walk at all and he was indeed frustrated but when Randy went to take him out for an evening walk, he bolted and ran straight to the neighbor's pasture. Wouldn't mind Randy at all. Wouldn't come back when I called. About half and hour and he was back but we can no longer trust him to mind us. He has proven himself a bad dog.

  My goal now for Max is to get him a bigger yard. Most of the fence that is up now is still in need of securing and would fall apart in a strong wind. I am taking apart more of the big garden fence to have material to complete Max's yard. It was made from scrap pieces that are just the right size to add to what fence is already up.

  We were outside with the flashlight the other night and Randy happened to see what I'd been talking about when I said Max had different colored eyes. In the daylight, the look the same. Just a dark color but when you shine the flashlight into his eyes, one appears red and one appears blue or a green color. I'd never heard of such a thing. But then, I'd never used a light at night to notice something like this. He can be so clumsy up close (falling off the porch or missing the step to the porch) but nothing that would cause worry.



  I finally figured out why Max wasn't wanting to go under the house anymore. The kitchen drain leaks and sounds to be dripping big time under the house. Such fun chores to look forward to and knowing that it has to be running out after it crosses the floor part. Yikes. 

  Max certainly shows me that he prefers for Randy to take him out for a walk. So, today it is raining and he won't be going out for any walk. He started the day by scratching my face. It didn't leave a mark but it may be a long, long time before I take him out again. When he scratches hard, he can take off lots of skin and dig deep. 



  I would like to say that Max is the perfect puppy but that would not be true. He is usually a very good puppy. If I remind him that if he does not come on into the yard, he will be in trouble and not get to go out again for several days, he will come on in. There is a point where he is deciding if it is worth the punishment. Only one time has he done this with Randy. He got too near the pasture and he could see all the cows and just ignored Randy and went to herding the group. They all ignore him but I think he tries to bite them and make them move. If I were the neighbor and I looked out to see some big stupid dog attacking my valuable cattle, I'd get the gun and shoot him dead. Then we'd be made to pay for damages. Yikes. 

  Max has finally quit eating the rodents that he catches. He proudly displays them where we can see his victims and give him praise. Then I dispose of them. We had no idea there were so many around here. These are the ones who are stupid enough to come through his yard. He loves to catch moles and bat them around, let them try to run off or burrow down in the sand, then he'll grab them up and start all over. 

  The recipe for Doggie Num Nums is listed below but I must mention that if given too often, they will be ignored like other treats or foods that come too often. Variety is essential and it is great if you can change up the schedule now and then.



  Over the past few days, I'd noticed 3 or 4 ticks on Max and instead of getting a new collar, I made a batch of Doggie Num Nums. After 4 hours I checked and there were no ticks. I had made them all winter and we never had a problem but with summer and not wanting to heat up the kitchen, we bought a collar and treats for puppy. A new collar takes 3 to 4 days to work on ticks that are already present. 


  Preheat oven to 400

  • 2 Cups wheat flour

  • 1 Cup white flour

  • 1 teaspoon Iodized salt

  • 1/4 Cup Canola Oil

  • 1 egg (more if you have plenty)

  • 2 Cups water

  • 4 beef bouillon cubes

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

  In small sauce pan, heat 2 cups water to boiling. I like to use my 2 cup glass measuring cup and just heat the water in the microwave. Place cubes into water to dissolve. Do this first so it can be cooling while the rest is prepared. 

  In medium sized mixing bowl, place flours and salt. Stir to blend. Add oil, egg and cooled beef broth. With mixer, blend until smooth. Add minced garlic and stir with spoon. The batter will be easier to spread if it is thin enough to pour. If needed, add just enough water to thin the mix.

  Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin. Cook at 400 for 30 minutes. Decrease heat to 350 and cook for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave for about 2 hours. You want all of the big cookie to be hard and dry. If parts are yet moist, break apart into appropriate sized nummies. Return the moist pieces to the oven and set for 350 and continue cooking for about 30 minutes more. Dry, hard and crunchy is just right. 

  When all pieces are completely cooled, store in an airtight container. 



  Max lost his out of the yard privilege for yesterday evening and this morning. But he came right on in the yard without being told this evening. He spent all last night and this morning whining and crying. He had done so well for a long time.

  We don't get to go for walks anymore but we go out and do cutting and clearing while Max does his sniffing around & chasing a few rabbits. He has come to accept that when he is in his yard, the chickens are roaming the yard eating grasshoppers.

  There are occasional times during the night when Max will start barking and keep on. I had asked him once if he kept barking, how would he know if the critter was going away or getting closer. Most of the time, I can tell him he is a very good boy being a very good guard puppy and he will settle down and be quiet. 

  When we had 2 year old granddaughter down for a few days, Max thought we'd got a new puppy. He kept peeing on Pop's shoes whenever he went out and was glad when she went home. 



 Max puppy is finally doing better. He had reached the point where he would not mind me. He would take off for the neighbor's cow pasture. Following his herding instincts, he would try to make the cows form a circle. I don't know where he thought he was going to make them go, or the horse. If I were the rancher and saw some very big dog making grief for my livestock, I'd probably shoot him dead. So, after lots and lots of work, puppy is confined in a yard from which he cannot escape. This coming weekend will be a test run at releasing the older hens to range over the yard during the day. He gets to go out, supervised, in the early morning and late evening. It is difficult sometimes for him to go on inside his yard and not break for the pasture. But he does seem to understand that if he does, he loses a morning. He does seem  more inclined to defy when it is only me and not both his humans watching. 

  He is losing his winter thick coat and all but a bit around his tail and upper legs has fallen out in big handfuls. What a sight and not something you want on your clean slacks before going to town for the day. His most favorite toy is a stick, any stick that has chewable qualities.



 Yesterday Max almost had himself a hen snack. He would have killed her if I hadn't been yelling and he obeyed. I don't want to tempt him again. We must be able to confine him while the chickens are let out of their yard to eat many, many grasshoppers.



  There must be some instinct that tells a puppy when a snake is poisonous and when it is not. On the first snake encounter Max kept his distance while sticking his nose out as far as he could. The next one he barked to get us to come watch as he killed a three foot long, light colored snake. The next I found between cardboard in a discard pile in the garden. He wouldn't come anywhere near it, and after I had killed it he still wouldn't eat it but left it displayed beside him. He would throw it around and slam it onto the ground but not even bite it. 

  Have not yet been able to break puppy of jumping and biting. His nipping can tear the skin and draw blood. He'll stop when he is told to stop but as soon as you look away, he's back at it again.

  Yesterday, he caught a mole. For hours he batted it around and would even let it escape and burrow back underground. I'd never seen the little critters do this; in fact, I had only seen one of the varmints and briefly as he disappeared. Max would dig up the mole and carry it around in his mouth and let it loose to escape again. What a sight. Last night he brought up a baby bunny rabbit and was howling without end. It seemed he wished he could play with it before it ceased (or something like that). He love the lizards too and the ants have been extreme because of the fewer lizards. Max will eat the bigger grasshoppers and had tried to play with one this morning but it had little play value. I tell him that they are full of protein.


    Puppy's birthday has been set as being September 28, 2001. We don't know the exact date and he appears to be a full-blood German Shepard. He acted as though he had been abused and was then abandoned. Quite hungry and thirsty, he soon adopted us as his flock. He still tries to nip and jump but he is learning that it is not his job to herd us anywhere. He seems to believe these to be games he thought of and they should be good ones.

  I had spent two years researching how to raise a puppy but those writing the advise had never seen a country dog. There was one company that sold the shock collars. It would have been better if they had not acted like everything was a secret. You could not get in to find out how much the items cost until you entered your credit card number and were ready to order. If you have ever gone to any help-type site, you know to first read through the FAQ's and the problem will usually have been addressed and the solution given. Many people think that their animal problems are unique but they usually are not. 

  About a year ago, three of my 5 cockatiels died within two days time. I read up on everything on websites that dealt with bird problems. I listed all the possible causes and made changes. No more died but I had to quickly learn how to raise the two babies that had been orphaned.  They are healthy yet silly and most tame birds.

  I still have found no information about dogs that are not kept on a chain or in a yard. Most of the disciplines applied involve keeping the dog completely away from an area. I shall seek to persuade Max to mind and do as we say. I enjoy finding new pet related websites. If you find such a site, please send Nita an email.