By Ryan Flexman-
The terrible day when my puff ball of a dog was used as a chew toy by a canine bully is the day I realized I wasn’t a little kid anymore.
Max was no longer than a foot and covered with vanilla-colored cottony fur. He was quite the cutie.
Ok, maybe not everyone liked him. Maybe even no one did. But leaving us for good right in front of our eyes wasn’t what we wanted for Max.
I’ll never forget it, July 17, 2011, the day we were SUPPOSED to watch the Women’s World Cup final in my house.
But the neighbors’ pit bull had much different plans for us, specifically Max.
Waking up to the gruesome cries from my mom and sister was terrifying. They were yelling for me to help my Dad catch the dog who happened to have our little Max lodged in his throat.
I quickly leaped out of bed and raced to the neighbor’s yard in nothing but my underwear. Something I would have never done before.
But that was the least of my concerns.
I found myself chasing a crazed dog that was hurting my Max. I’ve never run that fast in my entire life, but I’ve also never chased a pit bull that was trying to have my dog for his breakfast.
Finally, after the two minutes or two hours, I couldn’t tell which, was over, he let go of Max.
But Max just laid there.
There was blood in his fur and he was making some heavy attempts at breathing. But that was all he could do to stay with us.
Before I knew it, my brother and dad were in the car racing to the vet to see if there was any hope for the mangled puffball.
I ended up waiting for any news sitting on my sister’s bed, with the two most important girls in my life crying on my shoulder. It was my 9-year-old sister Emily’s room, decorated with princesses, slathered in flowers and shades of pink. What seemed like hundreds of stuffed animals were staring at me from her bed, expecting me to man up and take care of mom and Emily.
But I had never done that before. The most I had ever done to take care of my mom was to make her breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. I think I made lunch for Emily once.
This felt completely different, foreign to my young self. I felt like I was dreaming.
I had to be the man of the house and keep my sister and mom from completely breaking down. It’s harder than you think.
I kept telling them that everything was going to be OK when really I had no idea if it was or not.
The sound of the house phone ringing hit me like a freight train. All I wanted to hear was my dad’s voice saying that Max was going to be OK.
But I didn’t happen.
My brother was holding him in his hands, sitting in the front seat while my dad was driving to the vet.
That’s where he died and Nathan knew it right away.
There’s no other feeling that compares to the strength I needed when I told my mom and sister that Max didn’t make it. Tears and sobs filled my sisters’ princessy room, leaving me to be the one to comfort them.
I didn’t miss much from the Womens’ World Cup that day, considering the U.S. lost.
But that was easily not the most eye-opening event of the day.
Not even close, after the trauma of innocent, little Max going to the great beyond, and me realizing that from now on, I was no longer a kid.