We came across max as a bit of a fluke really, we hadn’t ever had a dog and weren’t looking. My parents both work at Hutton headquarters and one afternoon my mum had been asked to call dog school, whilst on the phone she had casually asked if there were any dogs that needed re-homing, we had always wanted a dog but never taken the steps to get our own.
She was told about Max and later that afternoon her and my dad went to see him over at dog school. When I came home from college that day I was delighted to find out that they had said yes to re-home Max and that he should be with us by the weekend.
I never met Max until they brought him home and was shocked to see how big he is (his handler had kindly informed us that he was one of the larger dogs of the force!).
Max was so excited to be home, I watched him drag my mum who had hold of his lead up the path to the front door and into the house, where he instantly settled as if he had always lived here. We offered him some water and he managed to fling the bowl across the kitchen splashing everywhere, that’s when we realised we would need a bigger bowl, bed and some pretty tough toys!
Max was brilliant, he settled into home life immediately, he was house trained and had perfect manners, he never begged for food, chewed or barked (the only barks were at the postman, the occasional visitor and cats!) He soon became a little celebrity of our neighbourhood as everyone knew max, he was such a character. He settled perfectly with our horses too, it had been a worry at first that he would be silly and run round their legs but having been around horses with the mounted branch, he had an awareness of what not to do and we could happily take him down to our stables and let him run round without a worry.
The stables soon became his favourite place, he would occupy himself for hours chasing sticks and having a nose about in the long grass. He was also brilliant company and I felt safe enough to ride on my own whilst max was there as he would always be keeping a watchful eye over me.
Max relished his retirement, we took him everywhere with us, to the beach, the park and he even came on a camping trip where he was so excited you forgot he was an older, retired dog. Whilst in once sense he loved retirement, in another way he never forgot his roots as a working dog. Max was always extremely protective, he had an awareness like no other dog and was keen to make sure his owners were safe at all times. One time out on a walk, a dog which was loose on a farm track became vicious towards me, I was only 17 at the time and absolutely terrified. Instantly Max placed himself between the dog and myself and let out a deep growl whilst puffing his hair out. He never went for the dog as Max had no malice in him what so ever, but the warning was enough and the dog soon left us alone. Max was looking out for me. I always felt safe when Max was around.
Most people say having a pet, especially a dog can become tying, but I found it actually gave us more freedom. Max gave us a reason to go out for walks and spend more time as a family. Having him around also meant that my parents could go on their first ever holiday without me, I was left at home safe in the knowledge that whilst I was looking after Max, in reality he was looking after me (and guaranteed that there would be no wild house parties whilst my parents were gone, much to their delight).
The day we lost Max was absolutely horrendous. He was part of our family, but he was old, he had become ill and was ready to go, so it was the kindest thing. We were with him until the end and he never took his eyes off us. After his death we made the decision, that our field would be his final resting place as it was his favourite place in the entire world. I wasn’t just us that missed him but everyone on our street was upset about what had happened, we even received cards, just as if a person had died, Max was a much loved character of the community. We didn’t get a dog until many years later; we had loved Max so much that we couldn’t even consider replacing him. From max we developed a love for German Shepherds, and we now have Ruby, a very playful 2 year old German Shepherd. Ruby wasn’t a police dog, but desperately needed a home at a time when we felt ready to care for another dog. She will never replace Max, but they are totally different dogs with different characters and we love the joy and happiness she has brought into our lives that we lost when we lost Max.
We have continued to support the Police dogs benevolence fund, as it was with their help that retired dogs, like Max, get the enjoyment and relaxation they deserve after a working life dedicated to serving the police force and upholding the safety of the community. We commend the dedication of all the staff at both the Police dogs unit and the benevolence fund for supporting and caring for such wonderful animals and making happy retirements, like Max’s possible.