Love to the MAX!

Today is my puppy’s birthday. Sir Maximilian NewMaster The First. Or, as we like to call him: Max. He is the four-legged, fur baby, love of my life. And he has taught me so much about how to live. But pets do that, don’t they?

Truly, there is so much we have to learn from our animals.

I am not simply talking about the obvious things we all sort of already know about. Like unending love and unshakable loyalty. Pets, without a doubt, embody that. As their people, we are in the rare and amazing position of being another’s number one and only priority day in and day out, come what may, no matter what. Pretty amazing, right? That kind of giving is contagious.  Knowing how incredible it feels to have that in my life, I can’t help but want to be that for those beautiful people I call family and friends.

But the wisdom and inspiration of Mr. Max has extended far beyond the notion of love and loyalty. Here are just a few of the things he teaches me every day. (Often with great patience, for I openly admit, I am not always the most willing learner.)

Everyday, without fail, Max reminds me to play. To just set all the crap aside for a few minutes and have a little fun.  And every time I do, I’m that much less stressed for having done it. It is amazing what a little game of tug-a-war can do in terms of putting a smile on your face. It is the ultimate antidepressant.

Another thing Max reminds me of every day, usually dozens of times a day: It’s okay to ask for what you want. Even beg for  it if need be. He has absolutely no qualms about receiving T.R.E.A.T.S. And what a great lesson there is in that. Seems to me we are all entirely too reticent to allow others to treat us. There is this unspoken human agreement that treating ourselves ought to happen only on rare occasion and only after we truly have gone far, far out of our way to prove we deserve it. To that, Max Powers says, “Bah!” Treat me now. Treat me again! And again! And again! Good for you, Max. We all deserve the things that delight us. And we deserve them every day whether we have conquered our to-do lists or not.

Now those of you who know Max know that his idea of treating himself pretty much comes down to one thing- food. And thus comes the next brilliant bylaw in the world of Max: Food is meant to be enjoyed. Even relished. If you really think about it, what the heck is wrong with snarfing down something delicious with abandon? We all have so much stuff around eating. We are constantly counting calories. Cursing carbs. Carving portions. You know what Max thinks when I put a plate of food in front of him? “YUM!” That’s it. A single syllable that says it all. It says happiness, it says gratitude, it says, bring it on I am willing to enjoy the experience! I know when it comes to eating, we are an unhealthy nation, but maybe a healthier attitude is part of what we need to turn things around.

Max, as well as any other pet I’ve ever known, is a master in the art of receiving. This is something we humans could stand to learn in bulk. Allowing others to take care of us seems to be considered a weakness in our culture. Either that, or we are so cautious about being a possible “burden” on another, that we would rather go uncared for than let someone else give us what we need. Not pets. They are more than happy to allow us to take care of them. They somehow innately know that’s the way it works. You have to be willing to give and receive. Otherwise the whole energetic flow in a relationship gets all damned up.

Something else worth pondering: Max doesn’t get bored wiht life. He is always excited to play with a ball. Every single time. And, I’m just guessing here, but I think that has a lot more to do with Max then the ball. He brings fresh, excited energy to every game of fetch because he’s just plain happy to be spending time having some fun with the people he loves. What else is there in the end? If he can find bottomless joy in a tennis ball or a frisbee, surely I can manage to not get bored with my rich and beautiful life.

I could go on and on with the lessons my little boy has taught me… That cuddling actually is a cure for much of what ails you. That there is always a reset button for your bad mood just waiting in a good, long walk. That it is very possible to communicate without words. And most importantly – most especially – that there is an unfathomable real richness and honor in being entrusted by life with the care of another living creature.  But at some point, I have to stop writing about Max and start celebrating with him…After all, there’s birthday apple pie to be had!

So with no further wordy ado, here’s to my child. My mentor. My greatest blessing.

Here’s to you, Sir Max — Happy Birthday, bubby!

© 2002 The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit



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