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in memory of max
My cousin Debbie has always had schnauzers galore, and when BabyGirl was about 4 we acquired a male pup who was promptly named Max. That terrier temperment flared quickly when the kid tried to wake him up to "play" and he bit her in the face on day two of his residence with us. Understandably, she was ready to send Max back to where he came from and had nothing to do with him for awhile. As he grew older and they became more familiar with each other, they relaxed into a friendship. There was neither the money nor the will to get his ears done so they grew long and floppy like any other dogs' ears. He never got a haircut and was covered with mounds of curly gray/black hair that made him resemble an aging teddy bear. We adored him.

Lauren's fifth birthday was in September, and we had the party outside with a pinata hanging from a tree in the front yard for everybody to whack at with a long stick. The place was covered up with kids....about 25 in all. There were loads of presents and relatives and friends. It was loosely organized chaos, as birthday parties tend to be. I often wondered why we didn't just buy her a bunch of stuff and let her open it and avoid all the cake making and favor buying. I do believe we'd have come out about even. But I digress.

After the mob thinned out, my friend stayed around to help me clean up. BabyGirl and Katie took off on bikes toward the end of the dead end lane. A few moments later we heard the most God awful screeching you've ever heard from little girls. "Mom...MOM". They were crying hysterically. You ain't never seen plump middle aged gals run as fast as we did to the spot about 50 yards down the road where they were staring in horror at a pile of smoke. We all stared at the smoking heap and tried to get a grip on what was going on. In an instant, I spotted Max's bright red collar in the midst of the smoldering fire. My eyes followed upward to a dangling power line. There had been a huge thunderstorm on Friday night preceding the party on Sunday afternoon and the neighbors were out of town for the weekend. We had no idea that the line had snapped and lay live in the grass on the roadside, knocked down by a fallen tree limb.

My husband and I were separated and I didn't know what to do. My cousin's hub came out and retrieved Max's body so that we could bury him later. The kids were inconsolable, and my friend and I were just plain freaked out. Just an hour earlier, all those children had been out there running around like banshees, and it could have been one of them that smacked right into a fiery death hanging from a pecan tree. Thank you Big Guy.

My estranged husband did the Daddy thing and came to bury Max the next day. We laid him to rest in the lot in front of the barn and every spring when the wildflowers bloom there, I think about him and his floppy eared long haired self. And I smile.

It helps me to keep the faith when I hear things like this quote of the day:

"...an invisible mark on the wall." President George Bush
Regarding the 2000th death of a a member of the US military in Iraq.

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