Strength & Honor
STRENGH & HONOR
“Busy” doesn’t begin to accurately describe the last few months let alone the year it has been for Red Rock K9. Its been a whirl wind of a storm here getting everything ready for puppy departure day including 10 puppies bathed, nails clipped, owners puppy handbooks and kits ready, bedding cleaned for newly clean puppies, videos filmed and cut, DVD’s edited and burned and a countless number of other puppy chores that are the usual daily norm here. I seem to hit this point at the end of every trained puppy litter not knowing exactly how to handle the flood of emotions tied to the amount of work poured into the puppies and realizing I have done everything I can to the current point.
But this litter was different. Possibly because it matched our largest litter to graduate. But more overly knowing the backdrop of the last year that is now behind us. We took an entire year away from having a litter in order to prepare a new training area for our pups. There was nothing easy about getting to where we are today. There have been plenty of bumps and hurdles and it took a lot of mental and physical strength alike.
And then I think way back to a moment that I questioned going any further with dogs at all. I don’t think I have ever specifically written about Maximus. Max was my first German Shepherd. He was my boy. I picked the name Maximus from one of my favorite movies at the time, Gladiator. It was strong and just seemed fitting for him. We did everything together. While my love for dogs and training grew, so did the pack of German Shepherd friends that would eventually solidify the “6 Pack.” Raising those 6 German Shepherds taught me more about dogs than anything I could have ever read in a book.
Tragically one day Max was swept from this earth in an unfortunate accident. I remember when losing him, not knowing if I could go on with dogs. There was one problem. I still had 5 that reminded me daily about a dog’s ability to remarkably keep moving forward, living life to the fullest in the moment. With life feeling like it had stopped for me, the rest of life around me kept moving. It wasn’t like me to just quit and there had been plenty of times in the past I had fallen down and gotten back up, but this blow just seemed a bit different.
Max had been struck by a car. At the time, we did not have the perimeter fence that we have now. And when I say he never wandered from his boundaries, he really never had before.
Unfortunately, a neighbor’s dog that was a wanderer had found his way to our yard and I am confident he was running him back across the street. So, on that cold day as I got the call and made my way to the main street it was only a short time until I was joined by my dad that had already gotten the news.
As he insisted that I go back to the house and didn’t need to be involved in moving him I had the strongest urge to help.
Looking beautiful and large and only as if sleeping he appeared untouched. Yet I knew he was gone. When the time quickly came to carry him my dad once again said not to interfere but once again I had the strongest urge to carry him.
I don’t think I thought about this until years later but that little puppy that I had named Maximus from the Gladiator movie unfortunately met the same fate in the conclusion of the story.
“Strength and Honor,” it was a phrase spoken and motif in the movie Gladiator along with one of the similar final questions, “Will you honor him?” which was asked in regards to “will you carry him.” While I’m not one to tie emotions into fictional narratives that only satisfy my own thoughts, but I couldn’t help but remember and realize the striking similarity of events.
In the ending scene of the movie as the Gladiator had fallen, it was asked of the soldiers of Rome, “who will help me carry him,” as it was also echoed, “Honor him.” Perhaps the parallel is far fetched. But amongst the pain in the moment I had an amount of composure and strength that could only be matched by my the willingness to honor him and be near him in that moment, I wanted to carry him and no one could have talked me out of it.
As I think back to that day I wonder how much of our story had already been planned and written. While I know he is “just a dog” I can’t help but think of him running in green pastures above, and looking down with pleasing eyes to where we are now. So here’s to you Max – Strength and Honor.