We lost a valuable friend and companion on Saturday (summer, 2011). Max’s registered name was ‘A Minute Past Midnight’ – a purebred roughcoat tri-colour collie with a distinguished pedigree, who came to us 3 years ago through Okanagan Collie Rescue and has been living with us as part of our extended family.

Max was bred as a show dog, and had the distinction of being a Canadian and American champion in his breed. At some point along his journey, Max was ‘de-barked’, and he had to have several teeth removed to maintain his health.

But this never stopped Max. Upholding the proud Collie tradition as a loyal watch dog, Max continued to bark in his own way, letting us know whenever a person or animal was within sight or vocal range. One of his favorite traits was to ‘bark us out’ from the back yard when one of us left in the car. We were never sure if he was saying ‘bon voyage’ or ‘you can’t leave without me.’

We often referred to Max as our ‘special child’ – stoic, with a habitual behavior pattern that often made us chuckle and shake our heads. He didn’t often demand attention, but savoured every opportunity to soak up the affection from his people.   Max’s health had been in gradual decline in past months, showing symptoms of pain and stiffness in his joints. We strove to keep him as comfortable as possible through pain relief and anti-inflamatory medication.

Then on Friday, his health took a sudden turn. He refused food and lay in his favourite spot in the back yard for most of the day. Late that evening, he suffered a significant setback and we took him to the emergency clinic in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Max was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, which is a painful and debilitating condition with questionable prospects for recovery, especially at 11 years age. After attempting to stabilize his condition and medicate him for pain, we reluctantly decided to end his suffering and allow him to cross over.

Max was a gentle soul, a loyal companion and a welcome addition to our furry family. He will be sorely missed, but fondly remembered.