A tribute to pets.

“It is amazing how much love and laughter pets bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”

― John Grogan, author, “Marley & Me”

I’ll never forget the day we came home with our new puppy, Max. He was born into a large litter that was up for adoption one hot weekend in July. He was a small shepherd mix with long, tan fur covered in black and white spots. Little did we know that Max would grow to become 65 pounds.

He was feisty and naughty and got into a lot of trouble during those early puppy years. Max would dig holes in our backyard, regularly covering his paws and nose with dirt. There were times when he battled the couch, the rug and even the walls. He usually won. And there were accidents, lots of accidents. But as he grew, he became a loyal protector, and a fierce but gentle guard dog.

Over the years and as our family grew, Max experienced health problems. He was diagnosed with Valley Fever, which required daily medication and advanced medical treatment. He eventually became weak and no longer had an appetite. At the veterinarian’s office, lab work indicated that Max had kidney failure. He was so frail – visibly in pain – and his body was shutting down. But we weren’t ready to say goodbye.

We continued medicating and caring for Max for several more weeks until it became clear that it was time. It was one of the hardest decisions we ever made. Even though we had nearly 10 years together, it wasn’t enough.

Almost a year later, we still miss Max. While we aren’t ready to welcome another dog into our family right now, we know that we will be someday. And in the meantime, we look back and smile at the fond memories we had with Max and all the love and joy he brought into our lives.

This issue is dedicated to our pets. From pet-friendly restaurant Original ChopShop and animal rescue Cooper’s Chance, to the benefits of pet therapy and the inspiration behind a local author’s new children’s book, we have you and your furry friends covered.