July 11, 2018

Maxwell’s Big Comeback

Maxwell

Animals have a resilience that is sometimes difficult for humans to comprehend, and Maxwell, a once-abused and neglected German Shepherd, is no exception.

Found in a Queens, New York, backyard without food or water, eight-year-old Maxwell was rescued by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in January 2017. He spent the next five months at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), where he was treated for severe skin disease, hair loss and for being severely underweight. 

Maxwell shortly after being brought to the ASPCA
Maxwell shortly after his arrival at the ASPCA.

“I could tell he was quite regal at one point,” says Joanne Langman, an ASPCA Behavior Counselor who helped rehabilitate Maxwell and has personally rescued more than 25 shepherds over the last 15 years. “He was also friendly and smart.”

Maxwell was also hard to miss. Eventually weighing in at 100 lb., he quickly became a staff favorite. 

Johan Aguero and Maxwell
Johan Aguero, an ASPCA Animal Care Technician, helped care for Maxwell.

“Considering all he’s been through, Max has a wonderful demeanor,” adds Joanne. “He really takes things in stride.”

Maxwell with a ball
Maxwell loved playing ball while in the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center.

Maxwell turned out to be very playful, tirelessly scampering back and forth across the ASPCA’s play terrace with his favorite red ball. He even enjoyed baths. “He tried to chase and eat the water,” explains Johan Aguero, an Animal Care Technician who cared for Maxwell at the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center. “He made us all laugh.” Maxwell later spent time in a foster home to get ready for adoption.

According to Dr. Laura Niestat, Forensic Veterinarian at the ASPCA, who oversaw his care, in his time with us Maxwell conquered bloat—a life-threatening condition in which the stomach dilates and twists upon itself. A blood clot in his spleen also landed him in emergency surgery, as did a testicular tumor that turned out to be benign. But, despite these severe ailments, Maxwell’s resilience continued to pull him through.

Johan and Maxwell playing
Johan and Maxwell at play.

In May 2017, at Joanne’s suggestion, Maxwell was transported to the Sedona Shepherd Sanctuary, which finds homes primarily for adult and senior shepherds—75 percent of whom come from shelters.  

“Maxwell is an amazing dog,” says James Dascoli, President of the Sedona Sanctuary. “He has an engaging personality and is very people focused. His trust in humans, despite being neglected and treated inhumanely, shows how dogs still place their faith in humans, even when we don’t live up to their expectations.”  

About the time Max arrived at Sedona, Ed B., his wife Christine and their 12-year-old son Jackson were saying a final goodbye to their dog Emmett, a pointer Ed and his co-workers had rescued from a Newark roadway the previous October after he was hit by a car. Emmett, suffering from liver cancer, passed away after living with the family for seven months.

Maximus with his new family
Ed, his wife Christine and their son Jackson with the newly named Maximus.

“We agreed that we would not wait long to rescue another senior dog,” said Ed, whose previous shepherds, Tequila and Shamrock, lived well into old age. When Ed and Christine met Maxwell, they formed an instant connection. They adopted him in July 2017, renaming him Maximus, or Max for short, after Russell Crowe’s character in the film “Gladiator.”

Ed and Maximus
Ed and Maximus relax.

“Like his mythical movie counterpart, Maximus has a spirit that can’t be broken, regardless of the bad hand his previous life dealt,” says Ed. “He has shown real toughness in the face of neglect.” 

After adopting Max, the family spent several months continuing to improve his health. They helped him gain weight slowly by giving him small grain-free meals, which also helped normalize his skin. And they administered antibiotics to alleviate edema in his paws, which leaked fluid frequently.

Maximus on a hike and vacation
Maximus accompanies the family on hikes and vacations.

Before long, Max was able to participate in the family’s favorite activity: hiking in the Poconos. Max also joined the family at a cabin in Vermont for Thanksgiving. 

“Max has quickly become the center of our world; we can’t imagine what life would be without Max in it,” says Ed, who adds with a wink, “We don’t spoil him at all.”

Maximus in his bed
Maximus at home, at bedtime.

*Max’s previous owner recently pled guilty to misdemeanor cruelty and is banned from owning animals for one year. With the help of our supporters, we’ll continue to fight against animal cruelty and to be there for dogs like Max, helping them to heal and to finally find loving homes.