I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. His name is Max, and he’s a good dude.
Max looks great in a Hawaiian shirt. Loves to rough house a little. Takes his meals very seriously. And twice a day he needs insulin shots to help regulate his blood sugar levels. He’s also covered in fur, chases bouncing balls down the hall and walks on four legs instead of two.
You guessed it. Max is a dog. But he’s not just any dog. He’s a special guy with some special needs, and I’m pleading with readers this week to help Max find a loving home. He’s been waiting for a very, very long time — if you’re reading this on Sunday, he’ll have been waiting 550 days (or, put a few other ways: 1 year, 6 months and 1 day; 78 weeks and 4 days; 13,200 hours).
The world of pet adoption is a many-faceted one, and it isn’t always fair. Puppies and kittens are the rock stars, of course. I mean come on: those pleading, high-pitched barks and meows, that fur that will only ever be that soft for a few months, the dopey way they walk around. It’s hard not to fall in love with a baby animal, and dogs and cats have solidified themselves as the predominant pets of choice in American homes. They can count on interest from legions of smiling prospective adopters.
But as animals age, sadly, so does interest. People start thinking about the number of years they’ll have the animal, they wonder about baggage. They fear having to deal with the loss of a pet sooner than they’d like. All legitimate concerns.
Then there are the special needs pets, which happens to be the situation in question. If an animal has medical problems, prospective adopters start doing math in their heads, wondering if budgets will allow for additional costs. And don’t get me wrong, that math is important. As a journalist, I fully understand how brutal financial realities can be, and people who can’t afford to properly care for an animal probably shouldn’t get one.
At five years old, Max isn’t old, but he’s not a puppy, either. And he comes with the kind of special medical needs most pet owners will never have to deal with. And his past is, well … not great. He’s been bounced around to various homes. And with each stop, it seems, less and less attention was paid to his diabetes until, before he was surrendered to Mending Spirits Animal Rescue, it wasn’t being treated at all. He nearly died because of it.
Max can be, as his foster mom Michel Haugh says, a bit “snarky.” When I arranged to meet Max, I was able to observe a little bit of this firsthand. His insulin in administered while he’s eating; it’s clear this is a time during his day when he doesn’t like to be bothered, so he’ll growl a bit. But that doesn’t prevent the insulin injection. (He also needs an eye cream medication. Both medications combined run about $35 per month.)
Haugh says that, when his blood-sugar levels are properly attuned, his grumpiness is minimal. And right now, they’re properly attuned.
I sat down with Max on the Haugh’s living room floor and called him over. The little guy bounded right over and wanted to engage. Tail wagging, he hopped onto my lap. I scratched his head, ears and neck, and soon Max was rolling over for belly rubs. Within about 5 minutes, Max was licking my face and wanting to wrestle.
He showed affection almost immediately, and if I’m being honest, I must say: I wanted to take Max home. He was loving and warm. Nudged my arm for more scratches. In short, Max was everything you could ask for in a pet. He’s not perfect, of course — no pet is — but he’s worth taking a chance on. He deserves that much.
A few years ago I wrote about my beagle, Henry, and how his less-than-bubbly personality is not the kind about which Hallmark movies are made. He can be a bit prickly. Likes to spend lots of quality time alone watching for the mailman. He seems to feel as though his calling in this world is to keep anyone out of a certain residence on Lakeview Avenue. And he takes that calling very seriously.
In short, in a lovable dog contest, my Henry probably wouldn’t win “best cuddler” or “most likely to lick a stranger’s face.” That’s just not who he is. Still, he’s my best friend. Every time I walk through the front door, he’s happy to see me. I love the goofy noises he makes when he’s begging for table scraps and how, if we howl long enough, he’ll join in. I love how he kicks his leg when you scratch his neck in the right spot, and how he can hear the sound of a banana being pulled off the bunch from two rooms away (he always gets the tip), or the crack of a can of Surly Furious (he always gets first sip). I love him. And part of me wonders what would become of my little guy if we hadn’t taken him and made him part of our family. Would his owly nature have prompted other families to give up on him? Would he have been surrendered when he didn’t live up to someone’s pet standards? Would he have bounced around from home to home? Would the world have given up on him because he didn’t live up to society’s ideal of canine cuteness?
Now I’m also wondering about Max. What will become of him? Will no one give him a chance? The Haugh family, bless their souls, will give him a place to live for as long as it takes, but they’ve got their own pets and two young children. They’re happy to help Max, but they want his stay in their home to be temporary. They’ve fostered many animals for Mending Spirits.
So readers: Other than forcing you to listen to stories about my kids, I don’t ask you for much. But I am asking for this. Could someone please give Max a chance. You won’t regret it.
Robb Murray can be reached at (507) 344-6386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Robb on Twitter @FreePressRobb.