We Love You, Max

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Our dog, Max, suffered from GME - Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis. He was diagnosed with this terrible disease in July 2014 and continued treatment for 4 years to keep the symptoms at bay. GME is incurable, so managing the symptoms for a good quality of life is the best that can be done with the poor dogs with this disease.

Mr. Max passed away on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

If you have been following his journey with GME the last 4+ years, you will recall he lived well in excess of the norm for GME patients (not leaving the hospital to 3 years is the prognosis).

Ironically, it wasn’t the GME that did him in; it was most likely the steroids that controlled the GME. Max’s gallbladder was not healthy and had not been this whole year. It was 60%+ full of sludge, becoming larger (again), and showing signs of forming a mucocele. If his gallbladder had formed a seal, it could have (would have) burst, leading to a very painful death.

We made the decision to have him have his gallbladder taken out. We dropped him off at Cornell on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. They did bloodwork and another sonogram. The surgeons were very encouraged by how (relatively) healthy he was compared to a “regular” dog with gallbladder disease that opted for this surgery.

On Wednesday, the surgeons attempted to remove his gallbladder laparoscopically. Since Max was immunosuppressed this would have given him small incisions, and (hopefully) an easier time to heal.

While attempting to remove the gallbladder, there was some (caustic) leakage, and they had to revert to the full-cut. We knew this (the full-cut) was a strong possibility as laparoscopic gallbladder removal in dogs is only successful in the best of cases about half the time. The leakage happened because his gallbladder was so friable (thin).

Max made it through surgery fine. He woke up after anesthesia and was doing relatively well in recovery. However, later that evening things took a turn for the worse (with his blood trying to form clots, his low blood pressure, and fast heart rate) and he was moved to the ICU section of the hospital.

The veterinarian doctors at Cornell worked on him for several days. Things were looking up for him on Friday, and I was cautiously optimistic he would make it. The plasma had done its job, the pressers were helping his blood pressure, and it appeared that he would be able to get some nutrition on Saturday.

Unfortunately, overnight Friday things took a turn for the very bad. We received news around noon on Saturday that they were going to try their last option to attempt to raise his blood pressure (human albumin as they do not have canine albumin on hand). Max ended up allergic to the human albumin, something we were warned was a possibility before it was administered.

At that point, there were no other options for him. As we got in the car to drive down to Cornell to say goodbye, the ICU doctor called to tell us his oxygen level was down to 27% (his organs were shutting down), and we made the decision to euthanize him.

Our dog, Max, suffered from GME - Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis. He was diagnosed with this terrible disease in July 2014 and continued treatment for 4 years to keep the symptoms at bay. GME is incurable, so managing the symptoms for a good quality of life is the best that can be done with the poor dogs with this disease.

Max as a puppy.

There are no words to express our sorrow. It physically hurts to think of Mr. Max right now. I “know” he lived longer than he “should” have with that dreadful disease. I “know” we were lucky to have him as long as we did. I “know” he no longer is in any discomfort or pain. I “know” all this. And yet the pain of our grief is suffocating at times.

Those without pets probably think I am crazy or exaggerating. I am not. We are truly devastated to have lost the little guy.

We can’t help the woulda, coulda, shouldas that led to the surgery decision. Our logical side knows that the gallbladder was a ticking time bomb, and he would have died a horrible death if it had ruptured. He had “a chance” – which is what exactly what his original neurologist told us we were giving him when he was diagnosed all those years ago and we decided to proceed with GME treatment.

But logic has very little to do with what we are feeling right now.

We want him with us. We want him healthy. We want another opportunity to appreciate every day we had with him. We want it all for him. And we are grieving because none of that is possible.

Our dog, Max, suffered from GME - Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis. He was diagnosed with this terrible disease in July 2014 and continued treatment for 4 years to keep the symptoms at bay. GME is incurable, so managing the symptoms for a good quality of life is the best that can be done with the poor dogs with this disease.

When Max was a puppy he used to snuggle up to Sonny-boy’s sneakers.

Max was a PITA. He fought with me for 10 years for “pack” dominance. He always wanted to be the alpha. He was a small dog that lived large, and didn’t realize he was little, fluffy, and cute.

He was a true fighter. He lived with a horrible disease for far longer than anyone guessed he could have. His spirit was truly indomitable.

Our dog, Max, suffered from GME - Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis. He was diagnosed with this terrible disease in July 2014 and continued treatment for 4 years to keep the symptoms at bay. GME is incurable, so managing the symptoms for a good quality of life is the best that can be done with the poor dogs with this disease.


We love him very much. The tears are still flowing and our hearts are still quite heavy – and will remain so for a long time to come. I know there will come a day when we recall all the Max stories with smiles instead of tears. Right now, we just miss him so much it physically hurts.

We will see you on the other side little buddy; we will see you on the other side.

Previous Max posts (read in order from the bottom up to follow his whole story):

Max’s GME Update: Distressing News
Max’s GME Update: Chemo Round 9
Chemo Round 8 for Max
Chemo Round 6 For Max
Chemo Round 5 For Max
Chemo Round 4 For Max
Chemo Round 2 For Max
Max is Back to Chemo for His GME
Max Had a Relapse
Mr. Max April 2016 Update
Max March 2016 Update
Mr. Max Post Cornell Visit Information
Max’s Latest GME Update
Max’s GME Update, One Year Later
Max’s GME Update, Month 11
Max’s GME Update
An Update on Mr Max, March 2015
Updating Max’s GME
An Update On Mr. Max
Last 2014 Trip To Cornell For Max
Back To Cornell
Max’s First Cornell Follow-up Visit
Max Exercises More Than I Do!
Updating the Mr. Max Situation
A Mr. Max Update
Mr. Max, Mr. Max, Mr. Max
It’s A Mr. Max Post!

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  1. Ellen Smith says

    Oh, Ann, I am so sorry to hear this. As soon as I saw the words “Max we love you” I knew things had gone downhill. I’ve been following you all on this journey and have learned a lot about a disease I had never heard of. Even though you are crying and in pain at your loss I hope you can remember the joy you had with him. And I don’t think you are crazy for your feelings. I lost my big, ole Newfie almost two years ago and I still miss him like crazy.

  2. Skirnir Hamilton says

    I am sorry to hear that he has passed on. Yes, he is out of pain now, but we miss the pets who have enriched our lives. They are special and will be missed. May God be with you as you grieve Max’s passing.

  3. I feel for you and am almost in tears. I miss my dog and know how you feel. Two months ago I almost lost one of my cats. She is a PITA about taking her pill.

  4. Oh, Ann. So sorry for your loss. Mr. Max had a good life with you and may he rest in peace. Until yo meet again on the Rainbow Bridge. I love this poem about a little dog angel by Noah M. Holland:
    High up in the courts of heaven today
    a little dog angel waits;
    with the other angels he will not play,
    but he sits alone at the gates.
    “For I know my master will come” says he,
    “and when he comes he will call for me.”

    The other angels pass him by
    As they hurry toward the throne,
    And he watches them with a wistful eye
    as he sits at the gates alone.
    “But I know if I just wait patiently
    that someday my master will call for me.”

    And his master, down on earth below,
    as he sits in his easy chair,
    forgets sometimes, and whispers low
    to the dog who is not there.
    And the little dog angel cocks his ears
    and dreams that his master’s voice he hears.

    And when at last his master waits
    outside in the dark and cold,
    for the hand of death to open the door,
    that leads to those courts of gold,
    he will hear a sound through the gathering dark,
    a little dog angel’s bark.

  5. So very sorry for your loss of Max. I know how hard it is to lose our furbabies. My husband and I have lost two this year. Our brave weimeraner, TBaer who survived cancer 6 more years than the vet predicted and our handsome cat Mateo who was 13 1/2. We are still grieving. Take care of each other and live in their memories of how they made your life so special.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. My tears are flowing, I was cheering Max on, hoping he would do well after surgery. I just lost my dog, Ozzie, 2 months ago, who like Max fought to live until the very end. I know your pain: physical, emotional and spiritual. Healing takes the time it needs. I am thinking of you and saying a prayer for peace and healing for you. Sending air hugs–

  7. ANNI MEGA-AKE says

    Dear Ann,
    I know exactly what your going through. I lost my cat of 14 years to cancer in January , It still hearts my heart so much I can’t bring myself to make her headstone yet. I miss her immensely every single day. I really feel as though I’ve lost one of my children. Words cannot express my heartfelt sympathy. I pray you find peace in your heart soon. I am so deeply sorry for your loss of your “baby”.

    With sympathy,

    • I am so sorry for the loss of your cat, Anni. The pain is so horrible, it leaves you gasping sometimes. I am sure when the time is right you will choose the perfect headstone for her.


  8. Elizabeth PENNISI says

    I’ve been following you & Max. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to lose a pet. You went above & beyond and he was so lucky to have you as his Mother.

  9. Janice Graebner says

    So sad to hear about Max. I’ve followed him(and you) since my daughter lived in Amhearst and Jamesville. You took such good care of him and gave him so much love. They take a part of our hearts with them. Prayers for you and your family.

  10. Patti Lifer says

    Ann, sending you my deepest condolences on the loss of your furry family member. May you be comforted by the knowledge that you and your husband did everything possible to give Max a quality life. Best Wishes.

  11. Ishbel Rosten says

    I am so sorry for your loss lovie. He was yours and he was loved, and he loved you right back.

  12. Just like the pain cannot be fully described, neither can words be found to comfort you.
    My comfort at the loss of my four legged children throughout the years was to know they are playing in God’s front yard waiting for us.

    • My thoughts are similar, Joan. I hope Max (and my other dog) is there to greet me when my time on this earth has passed.

      I am sorry for the loss of your pets.


  13. Barb Bishop says

    I am so sorry for the both of you. Max was so lucky to have such caring parents. I will pray for god to give you strength.

  14. Lanie Miller says

    I am so sorry to here if your loss of your precious max. He was so cute. I pray
    For you all.

    Love, Lanie

  15. Such sad news, I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you and your hubby can find comfort in the fact that Max had the best life you could have given him. Whenever we watch Prince of Persia, my daughter reminds me that it’s one of Max’s favorite movies. I know you have many wonderful memories of your little PITA, I just wish you could have had more time with him.

    • Whenever we watch Prince of Persia, my daughter reminds me that it’s one of Max’s favorite movies.

      Stephanie, that is hilarious!! Thank you, thank you, for the laugh out loud moment. I truly needed that.


  16. helen kirk says

    Oh Ann, I’m in tears reading this, I am so desperately desperately sorry for your loss. I can only begin to imagine the pain right now and how overwhelming it is. You must take comfort in the fact that you gave beautiful Max the best life and the best chance at life and he may have left you in form but his spirit will be with you, right there in his usual spot. God bless you and your husband at this painful time, you’ll be in my prayers xx

  17. My deepest condolences for the losses of your precious “family” member. I also had to take a beloved dog to Cornell that we eventually had to let him rest in peace. During the 8 days that he was in their care were visited him every day once they gave us the green light. We appreciated the twice daily phone calls updating his status. The Dr’s and staff at Cornell are so loving and caring and we knew our little guy was in good hands. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you, Nancy.

      I am sorry for the loss of your pooch. Cornell does pay a lot of attention to the pets in their care, and while we got two calls daily when Max was there on chemo, for the operation that calls were much more frequent once he went to ICU – his case was so ever-changing. They do good work, and certain turn out some very good specialty vets.


  18. Im so sorry for your loss…I lost my rescue baby Nada in October after 3 yrs of fighting Canine Cushings disease i miss her so much.

  19. Elaine Cobb says

    Oh Ann, my heart aches for you and your husband. I know the pain you are in. I’m very sorry Max lost his quite incredible battle. He was very special.
    Someone told me when I lost my Dixie that the more you love a dog the more you grieve when they are gone. Ann, feel bad for those who don’t understand what you are going through. They never felt the deep bond you had with Max. The depth of your pain and grieving now is the depth of your love.
    How lucky you and Max were to have that great love and bond.sending my sincere sympathy. May you Rest In Peace little Max. Run free and healthy. May God hold you in the palm of His hand until your Mom and Dad join you. 😥

  20. Dear Ann,
    I am crying with you. And as someone who had their gall bladder out and has not been able to eat since I want to remind you that Maxx gave all he could to remain here and fight to be the alpha. Life without being able to eat and living with heart issues and organs failing is terrible. I can also share with you my own personal near death experience that he feels so much better now being healed and whole a disease free. I imagine Maxx chasing my pack around in heaven. He probably is in charge of all kinds of dogs up there! He was so smart and so strong and such a fighter he truly was. And God sent him to the right mom and dad, you all were so amazing how you spared no expense and did everything humanly possible for him. Absolutely amazing the love I see there. I take in abandoned dogs off euth lists and give them dignity and get them ready to return to God with love, many are severely abused and neglected and when I saw the care you gave Maxx it is truly inspiring to see there are still good people in the world. I get bummed dealing with the mess of some people who are not kind to their animals and I try to rehabilitate the dogs ( what else can I do as I sit here so sick). Maxx was indeed very special and you will grieve him for a long time but that is because that love was so special. i will never forget your pictures of him diggin in the garden and being “bad” in the new place in Florida so long ago.Even though he was a PITA he was amazing and I loved his personality! Lastly I want to tell you, I have life threatening allergies to many meds and my demise will be something like this. Everything they want to try on me I could have allergic reaction to and die. I think God made me special like Maxx, my husband will tell you I am a PITA as well. God bless you Ann and your hubs and Sonny Boy and his girlfriend. Look at all the people Maxx ruled in life, I am telling you, he is running the place in heaven now. RUN FREE MAXX we love you forever.

    • Debbie, you have been through so much the last few years. You are truly an incredible, and strong person. I hope your health gets better and fast. You have suffered so very much.


  21. Ann, my sympathies to you and “hubby”. Both of you have gone through a lot this year and I know how much Mr. Max meant to you. We had an Irish Setter and went through a similar situation when her cancer got the best of her. She was a big part of our family and I still miss her after 9 years. Max was adorable and all the good memories of him will be with you forever!

  22. Janice Maiolatesi says

    So very sorry for your loss, as a pet owner 3x’s I feel your pain. Pets have a way of wrapping their paws around your heart. snuggling in and giving you the best years of their lives. Pets are like family, only a pet owner know the loss. Max has gone across THE RAINBOW BRIDGE, but he will be waiting for you and break away from his friends & bound towards you tail wagging like it was just yesterday. God bless Jan

  23. Ann, my heart is breaking for you right now. We went through a similar situation with our 12 year old American Bulldog. He developed a large tumor on his chest, after a few months we decided to have it removed. Our old boy Sir Freddy made it through the surgery ok, but he aged overnight and we lost him in four short months. One of the most painful times of my/our life. I still miss him and may for the rest of my life. He was such a gift for me and I got so much love from him. I have been reading about Max for several years and following his battle. I hope you know that you did everything that could be done for him. He knew how much he was loved and cared for. Thank you for sharing your journey with Max. Blessed Be.

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