SOLDIER fka MAX
We adopted a rescue dog in August from a NYC, high-kill, shelter. He was, at that time, 9-months old… and I had no idea what we were in for- or how much he would complete our family.
We knew little about him except that he had lived with kids, and a ferret…. and he had rescued his last family from a fire. The online videos showed a very calm relaxed dog who knew commands. I could not understand why this, seemingly, wonderful dog was listed in the “To be Destroyed” folder in the NY ACC (Animal Control Center). With a noon deadline to be euthanized, I applied to adopt him at 11:36.
At that time his name was “Max”. My daughter told me that she thought he should be called “Soldier” because he had rescued his family and was, therefore, a hero. I totally agreed.
So—off we went to bring our Soldier home from New York.
The sweet boy in the video was not the dog who greeted us. Instead we were met with a bouncing brute with mega- gross- stuff dripping out of his nose.
This was my first clue.
Our first adventure was just getting him into the car. He refused, and none of us were willing to force him. Finally treats laid across the seat encouraged him to jump in. We slammed the door and off we went.
The 3-hour car ride home was one long “Ewwww…..” as our new, whining, family-member spun in fast circles while, at the same time, sneezing up green sticky masses of gob that had the sticking power of super glue. Before we hit the CT. state line, these atomic snot-balls were smeared across every available surface of what was, apparently, our idiot-mobile.
Our revulsion was alleviated only by the “Oh Shit” panic that we felt when Soldier jumped out of the window at the rest stop! Luckily, he only wanted to follow my son into the store. Getting him back into the car was a bit easier this 2nd time – though rolling up the windows just created new targets for the booger-bombs and phlegm grenades.
We finally arrived home where we all sat and looked at each other. I was thinking “What have I done?”….
The kids were looking at me with “What have you done?” horror in their eyes.
The dog of course was wildly excited to be on a new adventure and seemed to think… “What can I do?!”
That night, we all dropped into an exhausted sleep only to start the next day fresh and ready. By the end of day one I was almost in tears…. in that very first full day Soldier had had already fallen off of the second story balcony, pulled every blanket or fabric he could find into a big pile (which we were not inclined to ask to have back) and lengthened my arm a few inches (I swear) by pulling on his leash. That is when he was not trying to jerk the entire appendage out of the socket with a sudden lurch. Did I mention the constant (loud) whining??
Remember, the video of “Max” was of a very well behaved and well mannered puppy. Who was this beast?
We visited the beach, where we discovered that Soldier did not like sand, or waves… but he loved dead crabs and tried to eat as many as he could find as quickly as possible.. This, and grass, were also the only things that he could, or would, eat. BTW- they came out the other end exactly the way they went in… only brown.
The next plan was to bring him to the tennis courts to run… but he could do so for only a minute or two before he was exhausted. It was obvious he was too sick to play. At this point, the snot running down his face did not dip off. Instead, it stuck to his nose and when he would shake his head it then adhered itself to his entire face. Ant the hacked up green slime could easily travel 6’… the length of a leash in case you did not know. Oh Boy!!
I was in a dead panic. It was also about this time that I learned that my half Dalmatian half Staffordshire Terrier was a Pit Bull!! I honestly had no idea that a Staff was a pit bull. But then the angels intervened. My cousin, Donna , an experienced and loving dog owner consoled me and counseled me (and refused to take him even though I begged her to do so). She gave me a good quality kennel and great admiration for the dog that she could see – and I could not.
My neighbor, Linda, praised us for the rescue and ignored all of the chaos. Two people who had seen Soldier (when he was Max) online sent me money for vet bills. Folks who read about Soldier/Max online were emailing me to share their stories of success and to tell me it would all right… my other neighbors came over to welcome him. I kept getting the message— it is going to be all right…. You are going to be all right…
And little by little it started to be more than all right. In fact, a great love has grown. Yes, he did get stuck on the roof, broke through a screen, and farts like a drunken bear who has eaten a full bag of Nachos dipped in hot chili.
But he also shows incredible gentleness with my 17-year old Maltese. He lets a 12- week old puppy stand on top of him at the dog park. He serves as a pillow for movie watching and an alarm clock in the morning. He does not understand why we have to cajole our 17- year old Maltese to eat- but he never touches her uneaten meal (which still does not excuse him form the missing plate of chicken that was set on the counter).
And then it happened. A couple of days ago he started to growl while we were all sitting in the living room watching television. A serious- “I am not happy” growl…
I did not understand the aggressive growl. And even, though it was not directed towards any person (or animal) in the room, I immediately felt a bit of that initial panic. “Is he a wild dog?” ”Will he hurt us?”
And then I smelled smoke. I had forgotten something in the oven and it was burning. That is when I realized that Soldier was simply making sure that his family was safe.
He is our hero- he is our Soldier