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Dogs really can be man’s best friend

My relationship with my best friend started back in the summer of 2009. I’ll have to admit that it was a rocky beginning.

I’d just moved back home to finish writing my first book. I was greeted at the front door by a long-haired black and white Jack Russel terrier named Max. I didn’t see anything special about him and brushed him aside.

I’d just come from the mean streets of Los Angeles, so I had a few rough edges of my own with which to deal. My mother informed me that Max was just a few months old. She and my 12-year-old nephew Kasim had adopted Max from the animal shelter. Max had previously been adopted by another family but had somehow managed to get his left front leg broken in a closing door. That family returned Max to the animal shelter, and that’s when my mother spotted him. My dear sweet mother told me the story of how they knew it was love at first sight with Max.

OK, I’ll admit it, I didn’t even like the dog at first and saw absolutely no room for growth in our relationship.

But that didn’t last. It wasn’t long before Max would start showing me a few things to impress me.

A week after I met him, I watched him round up a few cows and move them back to the pasture. He had my attention from that point on. Our property is located at the very end of the road, so there’s 35 acres of beautiful land to enjoy.

I started taking walks every morning. It wasn’t long before Max was by my side 24/7. As time passed, we became inseparable. I took him fishing and hunting. We cut fire wood and worked in the garden. I took him everywhere I went. Max had become a star in his own right.

He has a way of looking you in your eyes. He’s loved everywhere he goes. Everybody knows Max.

Even though I’d turned my life around, I was still in the process of my spiritual transition. Being alone on the property with no distractions to interfere left me alone with nothing but God’s creations and my thoughts.

It took me a minute to realize that I was being humbled in the best way. I trusted Max like I’ve never trusted man before. He didn’t know I was an African-American, male or an ex-thug. All he knew is that I loved him just as much as he loved me.

I found myself talking to Max as if he were a person. A few times he looked like he was going to talk back. I didn’t feel bad when I heard my mother and nephew doing the same thing.

It wasn’t too long after that when I realized I was a true animal lover.

But the best was still yet to come. I thought Max and I really hit the big time when Julie Cooper e-mailed me one day, asking me if I’d participate in a fun article in the 2012 spring edition of Natchez the Magazine about big guys and little dogs.

They came out to the property and captured photos of Max in his natural habitat, chasing the horses. Then we went to The Natchez Democrat for a studio shot. Max handled the flash of the camera like a true rock star as he and I posed for the picture. It was a proud moment for me and my best friend.

I felt a little bad for coming home and taking over the family dog. The competition for Max’s attention was getting too stiff, so I used that as an excuse to adopt the heeler mixed girl puppy from a guy up the road.

I knew my mother wouldn’t be too thrilled, so my nephew and I named her Baby, after my mother’s nickname (Sugar Baby). Then I fell in love with another puppy. He’s a heeler-rat terrier mix. Once again, I had to get creative and named him Charlie after my mother’s dad.

A very close friend of mine noticed my love for animals and introduced me to Kathy Fitch. She’s a board member here at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. She asked me to join the board as a volunteer, and I accepted. So it’s safe to say that you haven’t heard the last of me.

Now I’m not sure where the term “man’s best friend” came from, but I truly adore it. Maybe you ladies can come up with your own little phrase like, “a gal’s best pal” or “smooches pooches.” I’m just not ready to compromise on this one yet. If you see me in the streets, please don’t hesitate to give me new ideas on naming the next dog I just happen to fall in love with.


Greg Marshall is an Adams County resident and a volunteer for the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.