… In mid-November, Jeff Wells of Houston sent me a dramatic set of videos of his 4-month old boxer mix, Max.48The first shot zooms in on Max’s profile, as he lays on a blue blanket, nearly unconscious. His black jaw and snout twitch. The next shot shows his full, light brown body as all four legs slowly spasm and move involuntarily. His back paw rhythmically taps. The light dims for the next part of the video, showing Max asleep on his side and wheezing with every breath from pneumonia. The lungs rise and fall like bellows as the air fights to enter and leave his snout. Another shot shows him sleeping with his head on his paws in the same condition. With each video, his mass shrinks slightly. He’s wasting away.
In the next videos, Max has curled into a ball of skin and bones on a bed. His eyelids flutter. “Max …” Jeff says gently. The eyelids struggle to spread open, then close. “Max … Max … Max…” The third time, a little louder, the eyes open again. Then close. “Max!” Open, close. Jeff strokes his back as Max opens his eyes fully, then lets them close. Then open again, letting the light reflect off the eyes. Then closed again. As Jeff takes his hand away, Max opens his eyes one more time, then lets them shut heavily.
That image brought back memories. When Amy and I fought to save Tug with 24-hour nursing care, sometimes she’d just stop breathing. Then we’d call out her name, and she’d breathe again, as if she needed to be reminded how. She only survived a couple of days after that.
Jeff’s next video happened after Max’s treatment at Dr. Zilkha’s clinic in Austin.
He hardly looked like the same dog. Max sat up on the living-room floor, his eyes locked on a pink dog toy. Excitement builds in his throat and snout.
“Yap!” Max said, the back of his head shaved from the NDV spinal tap.
“Get it, Max!” said Jeff. “Get it! Get ‘em!”
Max looks at the camera, then back at the toy.“
Yap! Yap!” said Max …