February 18th 2015 was the happiest day of my entire life. It was the day I lay eyes on Maxwell, my perfect long haired Jack Russell Terrier with the pointiest and most sticky-uppy ears ever. My now ex-husband left me alone on my birthday morning. I was furious, thinking he had left everything until the last minute and I was stuck at home for half the day doing nothing! By the time he got back I was ready to start the yelling process, but he told me to chill and close my eyes.
Next thing I knew, there was this teeny little doggy being laid next to me, with these gorgeous but slightly scared eyes looking up at me. I immediately started crying, fell desperately in love and gave this little doggy a cuddle. Within a couple minutes he was cradled into my neck and began napping. I was told he was very nervous on the train ride back and had been unwell, the poor thing. Of course, any anger I held towards my ex had disappeared and the only thing I could feel was this enormous sense of puppy love.
Getting the dog, however, was truly the easiest part of the process. I’d never had a proper dog of my own before and this was a first. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all training program for dogs, and we definitely weren’t prepared. Max was a super naughty little puppy too… countless shoes, books and DVD cases were chewed through. It didn’t help the cat was on a mission to get him into trouble. We literally moved all shoes, books etc. to the top of the cupboards so Max couldn’t get his perfect little paws on them… but Toby (my number one ginger kitty cat) decided he would push some of these items onto the floor to get chewed and the dog yelled at. Cunning.
All our rugs in the house were fluffy and beautifully cream coloured. Max decided he didn’t like them and often decided to defecate there. The rugs were no more. We only managed to teach him how to sit and basic recall. After what seemed like an eternity, £1,000’s in home furnishings and shoes, a rhythm had finally instilled itself in the home. I was the cuddly one and the one that gives short walks, baths and delicate snuggles and love. My ex was the one who did long walks, play time, rougher play fights etc. This set up suited us all perfectly and Max was a very happy boy. His at the time dog walker was also in love with him and he got extra special treatment daily.
As a sufferer of anxiety I cannot tell you just how many times Max got me through panic attacks. When I was at my lowest he would sense something was wrong and put himself next to me. On many occasions he would lick my tears whenever I cried. He slept next to me every night - guarding me - and I felt like we protected each other. He was my reason to get up on so many mornings, to walk and feed. Often, we would go out and sit at a coffee shop, scorning at people who walked past with their dogs.
He came with me to the beauticians too. On one occasion when I was waiting for a massage, he was allowed on the heated bed and the masseuse also gave him a five- minutes rub down. I would drop him off to the groomers while I popped out to get a manicure and once we’d finished, we’d strut home together all freshly pampered. He was, and still is, my number one. My best friend of all time. My rock, my world, my everything. I mean, we even book private swimming pool sessions so he can have a splash around in the water. Not forgetting his dog water fountain, so that he only drinks freshly filtered and cold water all day. Pampered.
I wouldn’t give Max up for all the money in the world, but it is not always a smooth ride. Some days he’s super misbehaved and he has to get told off. He then gets all sad and sits in the corner which makes me feel like the world’s biggest prick. He runs after squirrels and foxes and won’t come back for god knows how long, so I have mini heart attacks until he does. I never leave him tied up outside shops as I get too scared someone may take him. Every time he’s unwell I won’t sleep and keep an eye on him through the night (the vet visits all add up as well). Watching the floor when we’re out on our walks to make sure he doesn’t consume any chicken bones left on the floor (if you’re a Londoner and leave your fried chicken bones on the floor on the roads and in parks, I will track you down and punch you in the face). The fact he doesn’t like puppies (or any dogs that aren’t “done”) can make things tricky too.
We’re doing our best but owning a dog is a lot of effort and can become a bit much. Which is why even though me and my ex are divorced we’re still on good terms - having a dog is a two person job. I couldn’t manage Max on my own and nor could he. When we got divorced Maxwell was particularly confused. Why wasn’t his human dad around for his long walks and play time as much anymore? Then whenever my ex got him for the weekend Max wondered where his human mum was. His whole routine went out the window and his behaviour was incredibly difficult to manage. All I wanted to do was to make my little pupper as happy as he made me and I felt like I couldn’t and was letting him down. I still don’t think I’m over that guilt and will be buying him ludicrous presents until I do.
Maxie bear has now settled in to his new normal. It’s not as perfect as he’d like, but it’ll do. The fact is, he’s so loved by everyone around him and is the safest he could ever be. He lives a better life than a lot of humans I know so he can’t complain. He’s gotten me through the darkest of days and for that and so much more he’ll always hold the most special of places in my heart. Thanks, Maxwell, for giving me the hope and joy I needed… as well as being the best dog a woman could ever ask for. Should you want to see the world’s most handsome dog, he’s on Instagram as @maxiswift.