FROM THE WILD TO THE STAGE
Updated In 2016 Maxwell Retired. Sadly, Maxwell passed away on April 17, 2017)
Maxwell's story from his point of view written by Amanda Creely
It was submitted by Perry County Humane Society, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit animal rescue organization located in DuQuoin, IL.
Someone had to have loved me at one time…I know how to sit, I know how to shake, I even know how to roll over. Someone had to have taught me that…well, that was so long ago I can’t remember. I ended up in the wild, not running and playing in a backyard after supper, truly running wild. My companions were two very old dogs and another very young dog. We lived in the woods as if we were a pack of wolves, scavenging for dinner, hunting for food and searching for shelter. We took care of each other, we were a family.
I have learned that there are two things inevitable in life; change will always come and you can never hide from death. I brushed both of these in the blink of an eye. As we were scavenging for food one night along a road a bright light caught my eye. I was paralyzed, I couldn’t move and then…WHAM…I felt as if I was being drug across asphalt. That’s because I had been. I inadvertently played chicken with a car…and lost. I faced death head on and fortunately ducked the bullet. I walked away from that crash with bumps, bruises, scrapes and a missing toe. Every inch of my body hurt. The wind blowing against me hurt, breathing hurt. I had to keep going, I had to keep up with the pack, our survival depended on it. Every step sent a shot of pain up my leg. With every breath made I wanted to lay down and give up. I pushed on, my pack needed me. When we finally rested I realized that I had lost my toe and the bone was still intact. I was literally walking around on a bone. And walk I did. For many weeks I feebly attempted to keep up with the pack on my hurt foot and because they were family, they slowed their pace for me. Then change came again…
A funny animal came upon us one day. My family was afraid. “Run” they barked but again I was paralyzed. “I know you” I thought. You are a man. I walked right up to him, no fear in my heart and thought, “I know how to sit”, and so I sat. “I know how to shake”, and I gently placed my injured foot in the man hand. As he looked at my foot he patted me on the head and led me to the truck. I couldn’t remember being in a kennel before but I figured there was no sense in getting all worked up about it. This is where the man wants me to be so here is where I will be. My companions didn’t think so highly of the man. It took many hours for all of us to be caught and we were taken to animal control.
For days we sat in animal control. My companions were afraid and cowered in the back of the kennel. My young friend was so afraid of men that he growled at them angrily. My two older companions were so old and so sick that they unwillingly allowed this man to touch them. Getting upset was not going to change the situation so if the man wanted me to sit and be patient, sit and be patient I would.
Heartworms. I never know that one simple word could be the matter of life and death for dogs like us. We all had them. One simple mosquito bite infected us with a parasite that would eventually lead to our deaths. Come to find out that one simple pill could have kept me from going through the agony of heartworms. My companions, old and afraid, would have never survived the treatment. As they walked away I saw them for the first time for what they were. They no longer looked like the fearless leaders that I would have walked to the ends of the earth for. They looked sick and skinny. When you looked into their eyes they looked tired. Not tired from lack of sleep but tired from the many years of abuse and neglect they had endured. Tired in a way that only someone who has never loved could feel. I never saw them again. I hope that wherever they went that they no longer had to carry the heavy weight of a heavy heart.
I was the lucky one of group. Again I dodged the grim reaper. My easy going personality and gentle nature bought me a ticket to the Perry County Humane Society. The Perry County Humane Society is a no-kill animal shelter. “This ought to be interesting” I thought as I came in. I became quick friends with a lovely girl named Sierra. She told me that I had nothing to worry about and that they would make me better. In all the excitement of the last few days I had completely forgotten the pain in my foot. Now that I had a chance to rest I realized again how bad it hurt. They did not let me hurt for long. I woke up one day at the vets office and that old toe, or bone rather, was gone. As I looked at my new foot I thought, “wow, only three toes”. They must have thought the same thing because that became my name…Three Toes
My philosophy on life is simple…things are going to change, good or bad. Might as well roll with punches and try to keep as positive an attitude about it as possible. I had my toe removed and I stayed in a good mood. I got heartworm treatments and I still stayed in a good mood. And let me tell you a little something about heart worms, the medicine really hurts. It feels like liquid ice is being injected into your body. You want to scream in agony, it makes you want to bite the hand that feeds you. Although it hurt very much I always stayed as calm as possible and was thankful that someone cared enough to make me better.
This laid back attitude really paid off. Because I was such a peaceful guy I got to go to a ton of adoption events. At least once a week I was out and about, just hanging out. I also like other dogs. They actually used me to see if other dogs liked dogs or not, I was just too laid back for all that biting and barking stuff. The best days were when our smallest volunteer came. She was only seven but she had to have been a dog lover from birth. She would brush me and take me for walks in the wheat field and talk to me about…well, half the time I didn’t know what she was talking about but she would take her time to talk to me and that is what was important. In a room of 20 people I would find a spot and wait for someone to tell me what to do. I needed people more than ever. I had time to reflect on my life in that pack and though we were a family but nothing compares to a scratch on the head and the sound of the words, “Good boy”.
But…I was a freak magnet. If there was a freak in a 20 mile radius they wanted to adopt me. They wanted to take me from this kennel and put me in another kennel. They wanted to put me outside where in the winter time I could get frostbite where I no longer have a toe (or a protective pad). It just wasn’t going to work. I had been through a lot, many changes, and my volunteers knew that I was destined for something special, not average. They even had a professional dog trainer come look at me to see if I would be a good therapy dog. I passed that test with flying colors I might add. And through all the good and bad I still sat in my kennel. I watched quietly as dogs came and went. I didn’t fuss nor complain. I figured I would bide my time and see what fate had in store for me.
Once again luck saved the day. One of our volunteers just happened to come across an advertisement that Three Angels Broadcasting network needed a dog for their children’s show Kids Time. She thought I would be perfect. She was the first angel. She made the call and that night the host of Kids Time, Brenda Walsh, came to see me. At first she was afraid. She had never been around dogs before and a big lab mix to her was not a starter dog. I knew she was nervous so I didn’t bother her too much. I just put on the old charm and figured she would come around…and she did. In one hour she went from not wanting to touch me to petting me, feeding me and even letting me lay on her feet. She was my second angel. By the end of our visit Miss Brenda knew that I was the dog for her show…but how would it work. She couldn’t adopt me because of her travel schedule and I couldn’t stay at the shelter forever…what do we do?
We decided that I should audition for the show and see if anyone there could find a lot of room in their hearts and a little room in their home for me. I was a smash at the show. I felt like a million bucks standing on that stage and being around all those people. The problem with me is not that I need a lot of correction or training, its that I just can not stay awake. I am so happy and feel so loved by my Miss Brenda and all the children that I felt like for the first time in my life I could relax. And there I found my third angel in the form of my new mommy. She had just came from a place far away and had to leave her old and sick dogs behind with family, they just couldn’t make the trip and there was a big hole in her life that only a four legged friend could fill.
And so I set out to meet my new life and got a new name, Maxwell. The best part of it is not that I am going to be a superstar (although that doesn’t hurt), but that everyday when I get off work I get to go home. I get to go on long walks with my new mommy and I get to roll around on the floor with my new kids. I got lucky. Everyday I get to go on a show and be an ambassador for shelter dogs. I get to show the next generation the right way to take care of a dog. I get to let everyone in the nation know that we are not all perfect. Not all great dogs are purebred guys and gals that you pay thousands of dollars for; I’m just a big old black mutt. Not all dogs should be thrown away just because they have something minor wrong with them. I'm missing a toe and you don’t see that getting me down! We can all be great dogs with the right love and care. Every shelter dog has a story. We have been used, abused and discarded but at the end of the day love is all we need. As I said, two things in life are inevitable…change and death. Change has been good to me and I am excited to see what’s next. Death on the other hand, one day it will come, but as for now, he is going to have to wait a bit, I have a show to do!
The Perry County Humane Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization that is dedicated to helping animals in need find loving homes. We are a volunteer based organization that operates based solely on support from the community. Although we are a small organization in size, through hard work and dedication, we have saved thousands of pets from destruction and/or abuse.
Perry County Humane Society
8365 State Rt 14
DuQuoin, IL 62832
Call us at 618-542-DOGS (3647) or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org