My beloved Maya, my ever so amazing Maya— passed away on Thanksgiving night, formerly my favorite holiday …. Many of you know that this dog was my world. I love all my dogs so much, so much — I would die for anyone of them. But this dog was truly extra special. She was, is, and will be the most incredible dog that I ever have had the pleasure to care for. Maya was the anchor of our pack and all of us will be truly sad and lost without her for quite some time. She was the one dog of the pack that every other dog in the pack without question would protect and that was clear. It had nothing to do with her social status, as she had a live and let live attitude. It had everything to do with the pack knowing that she was our precious gem.
Thanksgiving morning, Maya was happy and running around. She ate her breakfast and then hung out with me while I did home chores for the better part of the day. Come 3 pm, I took a shower before heading off to dinner at my aunt’s home. Jana commented that Maya seemed kind of bummed, and I agreed. Because she knew we were leaving?? We wanted to feed the dogs on the early side, before we left And Maya — who has a ravenous appetite — was uninterested in food. I knew then that it was the beginning of the end. I’ve always joked the day she doesn’t eat is the day she’ll die. Terrible fore-shadowing.
Instead of going to Thanksgiving dinner, Jana and I went to the emergency clinic. Upon getting there they did an x-ray and an extensive blood panel. The x-rays showed a large stomach with some unknown stuff inside. The rest of the x-ray looked clean, but showed that there was nothing passing in her intestine — indicating a blockage around the stomach. Knowing Maya and her endless appetite, I thought perhaps she had ingested some bedding material that had dog food residue on it. That’s all I could think of, but??? All the blood work was all right, except her white blood cell count was thru the roof at over 51,000 (normal is 5,000-11,000) and a few other enzymes showed up that indicated infection. The only option was to do exploratory surgery.
So the doctor boosted her up supportively as much as she could prior to surgery. When the doc opened her up she couldn’t believe that the dog was still alive, let alone had walked in the door of the clinic and behaved normally all day. Maya had gone totally septic and there was a lot of necrotic (as in dead) tissue that had to be removed. In addition, there was a small sized mass tucked up near her stomach that had ruptured and that was what apparently caused her to go septic.
The vet did all she could, and did a wonderful job. She couldn’t believe that Maya survived the surgery, and couldn’t believe she would live another 8 hours after that. I said to her, “Well you don’t know Maya and her iron will.” The vet called me at 2am to give me the update that she was not improving, and that they hadn’t had a blood pressure reading on her in hours: it was so low the machine would not register it. I knew I had to go in and spend time with my love. Upon sitting down next to her, and placing my hand in front of her to sniff (though in all other regards she was non-responsive), her heart rate and blood pressure rose immediately. I stayed with her for a couple hours, and during that time her heart held strong. But her blood pressure was up and way down constantly. The doctor said she has never seen this before — strong heart rate, non-existent blood pressure!
Maya wanted to stay with us, she was a Lionheart. But sadly, around 4:30am she just couldn’t hold on any longer. I held her close and for the millionth time told her that she was truly the dog-love of my life. And that’s how the life of a dog deserving to be honored on all levels ended her very short life of 6 years.
For those of you who knew Maya, you knew what a primal joy she was for all of us. And you know the bond I have with this dog. In my entire career of breeding, raising, training and owning dogs, I never thought it possible to accomplish with a canine partner what I accomplished with her. Her talent in search and rescue trailing was admired by so many of us. She never gave up, no matter what the weather conditions, no matter how long the search. She truly had the heart of a lion. Even when I wanted to give up she wouldn’t let me.
Maya defined survival to me. She represented life. I learned as much from this dog about life as I have from all dogs and humans combined. She certainly was my most spoiled and privileged dog (as many of you know). She was a force of nature, and a spirit that wouldn’t be tamed or molded. And though being a trainer and loving it, I loved her wild spirit and the respect she demanded from me in a completely non-violent way. She would voice her opinion every time she felt I was wrong. She made sure that she gave me respect and so clearly in return wanted the same from me. Most of the time this was such a mutual relationship that this dog made me melt. She was daddy’s girl no doubt about that.
She was so soulful, so connected, so….. My-My as I always called her. I believe that dogs are an extension of our souls and today certainly mine is faded and broken. This dog changed my life, made me grow and words cannot describe how sorely missed she will be. I just have to believe in what I always tell my students and friends when they lose their loved ones — time heals.
I love you Maya and though gone you will always be remembered and loved.