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The Eclectic Pen - Maxie's Great Adventure

By: Don C. (churchboy)  
Date Submitted: 10/8/2009
Last Updated: 10/16/2009
Genre: Crafts, Hobbies & Home » Pets & Animal Care
Words: 1,712

  The following true story is about a little female beagle named Maxie. She belongs to our daughter Daria and her husband Erik, and our granddaughter Adria. Her adventure began and ended in June 2002.

Maxie is a paranoid, determined, lucky, beagle who we all love, but nobody can figure out! Taking Maxie for a walk is like taking your super duper vacuum across a carpet littered with cat hair; it doesn’t miss a hair and it’s stored for future reference. She can smell last years squirrel tracks and know if it’s female or male, and she’s bound and determined to smell every inch of every foot of every walk. Oh yes, she’s fun to walk!

They bought Maxie as a pup just weaned from her mother, all cuddled up in the corner of the pen away from her brothers and sisters. It was apparent that she was the runt of the litter, but she seemed very calm and relaxed. Just what the doctor ordered! So naturally our granddaughter wanted her and had to have her. Now! The things we do for our kids.

Did I mention that she was paranoid? At first she didn’t seem to want to eat or drink, this went on for a couple of days and they were starting to get worried, thinking about the possible vet bills for all sorts of imaginary surgery that this little cute bundle of love was going to need. Her food bowls were placed by the glass patio door to the deck. Nice clean reflective glass patio doors. Then, being observant and smarter than a beagle, which I never doubted, the kids discovered that she was afraid of her reflection in those doors! She didn’t know who that other dog was but she was quite certain that she wanted nothing to do with it. With this revelation they had a little glimpse into the future and all the fun they would have.

When Maxie was nine months old, Erik was offered a management position with a medical facility in Chico, California. That meant relocating their family from Wisconsin and leaving a teary eyed grandma and grandpa and taking a very active beagle with them. I don’t think Maxie had any input into their decision, other than wishing for a house without glass patio doors. So plans were made, decisions were made, loose ends were tied up, and then came travel arrangements. What to do with Maxie? The airline that they were using would not allow them to ship Maxie in the cargo hold because of her young age, so they needed another option. After much calling and research they found a Pet Taxi service that would pick up Maxie at our home and transport her to California. Whew, problem solved! The Pet Taxi would start out on the East Coast and make its way across the United States picking up pets and dropping them off as they went. They said that they could deliver Maxie in four days because they drove 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Stopping of course to exercise water and feed animals.

The day arrived for Maxie’s pickup and we were all nervous and tense, thinking about her fragile personality and hoping for the best. The pickup was supposed to be about 6 PM that evening. Nothing ever goes as planned and this was no exception. The Pet Taxi finally arrived at our house in Fond du Lac at 3 AM after getting lost in Milwaukee. Apparently they could not tell the difference between Fond du Lac Ave in Milwaukee and the city of Fond du Lac, some 60 miles to the north! But they were on their way.

Their route included stops in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and then up to California. On the night of the 4th day after pickup our daughter called and was in a bit of a panic because there was no sign of the Pet Taxi and no word from them. The next morning they contacted the service and found that their vehicle broke down in Arizona. The air conditioning in the van was not working so they stopped for the night at a motel. That had to have been an interesting night, they put the dogs in one room, and the cats in another room, all inside their cages.

They were able to get their vehicle in working condition and finally on the 7th day little Maxie was delivered into her loving family’s arms none the worse for the trip but probably with a deeper appreciation for her people.

The family got settled in their new surroundings and life returned to a more normal routine which included Maxie finally able to stop shaking every time she saw a van go by the house. Then the 4th of July arrived. Being a normal family they decided that it would be great to go see the fireworks display hosted by their new city. Not wanting to leave Maxie alone that night they decided to take her with them. Looking back at it, that was probably not a great decision. Off they went. Upon arrival they snapped Maxie into her leash and walked a short distance to the display. At the first burst of fireworks it became apparent that Maxie would not and could not tolerate the loud noise and she became frantic with fear. They returned to their SUV and got Maxie into the vehicle, unsnapped her leash and like a burst balloon she was out the door. Wild eyed, ears back, tail between her legs and in a full run. Everyone was after her, yelling, screaming and of course it didn’t matter. Maxie was gone!

Her first obstacle in her flight was a major city street with busy traffic, two lanes in each direction with turning lanes. No problem. Across that like a flash, didn’t even come close to getting hit. I doubt that she even saw the cars, they didn’t matter, she just needed to get away! Erik ran after her of course but could only go so far, he couldn’t get across the street with the traffic, and Maxie was soon out of sight. They spent several hours cruising the area, looking behind shops, calling her, desperately hoping to find her before she was run over and hurt.

They spent the next few days checking the animal shelter, searching the surrounding area, calling the police with no luck.

That July in Chico was a hot dry period with temperature in the 100’s with no threat of rain. Around the outskirts of Chico there were areas that were rattlesnake infested and it was not unusual to see signs warning residents of them. Not far were foothills and coyotes. Not the kind of environment for a little 9 month old beagle to survive alone for many days. The family was devastated and their thoughts alternated every few minutes between worrying about Maxie and settling in as new members in a community but they had to get on with their new life.

Nine year old Adria had a dream a few nights later and asked her mom about it the next morning. “Mom, I dreamed that I was in the blue sky and God talked to me and told me that Maxie was alright!” “What does that mean?” Her mother told her, “Well it means that either Maxie has found a home with someone kind or she is in Heaven with Him.”

Later that day they received a call from a woman on the outskirts of town with a small ranch and said “I think I have your dog! She was outside in our yard and I could see that she looked hungry and tired so I coaxed her to me.”

The woman who found Maxie lived about 3 miles from Daria and Erik’s new home, and was able to feed Maxie and then look at the tags on her collar which had the veterinarians phone number back in Wisconsin. She called the vet and he gave her the kids new phone number in California. The vet had been contacted after losing Maxie just for that slim chance that someone might call him. They made immediate arrangements to get her.

That trip out to her little ranch was probably the longest 3 miles they had ever driven, everyone was happy and excited. Not forgotten in all the excitement was Adria’s dream from the night before.

They drove into the driveway and there was Maxie, back on a leash and looking forlorn and lonely. When she recognized the car and the kids she hardly could contain herself, with the biggest smile on her face imaginable, quivering, and jumping up and down. It was a very tearful reunion to say the least.

At home they inspected Maxie and took her to the vet. She was infested with ticks, and had what appeared to be barb wire scratches. After a fair amount of cleaning, a couple of shots and some suggestions from him they were able to get a clean bill of health for her and took her back to her new home.

Yes, this story had a happy ending but it was not without questions that will never be answered. How did she survive 10 days without any food or water in that heat, and how did she avoid snake bites or any of the animals in that area that would have killed her?

It has been seven years since her adventure and now Maxie is back in Wisconsin living with us. She is doing fine, has a little heart murmur but still full of life and always up for a walk. We all love that little dog and often talk about her California experiences and Adria’s dream.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Don C. (churchboy)

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Comments 1 to 2 of 2
Christy W. (CW) - 10/15/2009 2:26 PM ET
I really liked your story. CW
Molly K. (PurpleZebra) - - 10/19/2009 11:58 PM ET
AWW! i love these stories of Maxie! what a cute name!! question-how come she is now living with you? and what does Adria's dream of the dog with a new family or in heaven have to do with the story? thanks!!
Comments 1 to 2 of 2