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No definition for love this Valentine's Day
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Valentines Day is the annual celebration of love, but while jewelers and candy manufacturers bet on the traditional trope of romantic love, the day is also an important reminder that real love can be found in many different places, whether its between a couple who have experienced a second chance at love, or between a family and a pet that they had no idea would appear in their lives.

Fostering a spirit

Max is a 5-year-old German shepherd.

He came to the Dawson County Humane Society with a broken spirit and severe medical issues, including mange and burns. We got those taken care of, and then he came down with something else, said Debra Maxwell, shelter director. We treated that, and then he ended up in liver failure.

With liver failure, veterinarians dont know how long Max has to live. Humane Society officials were worried that Max would have to live out his days in the confines of the shelter, until one family saw his picture on the Internet, and stepped up.

They told me his story, and it just didnt really matter to me, said Beverly Long. Hes a beautiful dog, and he just needed a nice place to live out his life.

Long was still reeling from the death of her dog of 13 years, Precious, on New Years Day. I was having a real hard time getting over that, she said. Because I was missing having a dog so much, Id go online and would just look at dogs. Thats how I found Max.

Longs 15-year-old daughter, Maylin Bollefer, has developed a special bond with Max, even after only a couple of weeks of him living with the family.

Its the way that, after hes been through so much, it doesnt stop him from getting close to people, she said softly. You would think from all the abuse he suffered from that he would be sheltered and different, but hes really not. Hes playful. He acts like a puppy. I just love him.

The effects of Maxs illness linger. He came in with extreme hair loss, swollen bleeding feet, long nails, Maxwell detailed. He was microchipped, but we couldnt get in touch with the owners.

Max also has to take a twice-daily medication, which can make him retain water weight, leading him to urinate frequently on the Longs carpet. He does have to stay outside most of the time, Long said, but we do let him in frequently, and if something happens, we just clean up after him.

Bollefer says that she knows Max is sick, but it isnt something she lingers on. It just doesnt seem like hes sick to me, she said. He runs around. He doesnt get tired when we play catch. He acts like a puppy, like a perfectly healthy dog.

Maxwell called Max a wonderful, wonderful dog, a sentiment with which Long agrees.

He is so sweet, she gushed. Hes just an incredible dog. We just love him. He loves to play, and he fetches. ...He runs and he plays, and we play fetch and ball.

And for someone who may be hesitant to foster or adopt a animal? Bollefer advises to go ahead and do it.

Just remember that these may be the last few years, or days, for that one dog, she said. Let them have a good home ... make sure their last days are their best. Dont let them being sick stop you from giving them the love that they need.

To foster or adopt an animal, contact the Dawson County Humane Society at 706-265-9160.

A second chance at romance

In a comfortable home not too far from the highway, Maxine and Clyde Edwards sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee in their living room. Their dogs, Heidi and Dawson, are, for the moment, occupied with ice cubes.

The Edwards have been married for 27 years, and by the looks of it, have been loving every moment.

I was the principal of the junior high school in Dalton, Maxine began, and I mentioned to my secretary that it was time for me to do some financial planning. Her secretary recommended a financial planner from Ellijay who would travel over the mountain to help with the plans.

So up he came, and once he found out how rich schoolteachers were, he found me absolutely irresistible, Maxine said with a laugh.

Both Maxine and Clyde said that the main thing that attracted them to each other was comfort.

We seemed to hit it off from the start, Clyde said. We had lots of the same interests, and just had a very easy time of it.

It was more of a sweetness than fireworks, Maxine said.

This was in 1984. The Edwards married in 1986, and Maxine moved to Clydes cabin in Ellijay, one that he had built by himself, and by all accounts was a bachelor pad. The only thing I had to do was add a bathroom and a closet and a bedroom and a garage, she continued to joke.

The Edwards lived in Ellijay until 2000, after Maxine had retired from her job as principal of Gilmer Middle School. She had attended seminary, and was helping to start a new church in Cumming. The drive, and time apart, was too much for the Edwards. I didnt want to be away from her, Clyde said simply.

So, one day, in driving through Dawson, Clyde pointed out some of the new subdivisions that were popping up around Ga. 400. I said ... lets ride back in and look at it. And we did, and we liked the floor plan. That very day, they put a down payment on the house. We hadnt even discussed moving, he said.

I never thought Id get him away from the log cabin! Maxine interjected.

The Edwards have lived in Dawson ever since. They attend Grace Presbyterian Church, where Maxine sings in the choir. They also are both members of the Reading Education Association of Dawson County, while Clyde is an honorary member of Rotary. Maxine also enjoys quilting, and they both come together in their interest in fly fishing and travel.

While the couple says that having a variety of interests in common is good to have, they also advise younger couples, and individuals, to simply be grateful for the world around them.

A lot of people nowadays look at how tough things are, and how difficult they think life is, and they dont realize how difficult life has been, Clyde said. People dont realize how great they have it now.

And we do have to look out for one another, Maxine said.

We do have to, and thats the thing, Clyde said. We do have to consider the difficulties people are going through, and there is difficulty, but things have changed so much, and there is so much to be thankful for in this country. ... We have so much more to be thankful for than we have to be concerned about.

With the comfort level the Edwards display around each other, one would think they would have their plans all set for Valentines Day. But they both seem nonplussed about the upcoming holiday that focuses on celebrating love.

Every day is Valentines Day, Clyde said. When every day is a holiday, then you dont really think about the actual holidays.