---- — METHUEN — It’s likely that Max served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, but Pam Pelton did not know for sure.
Nevertheless, the cremated remains of Max “the war dog” will be buried with military honors at the MSPCA’s Hillside Acre Cemetery here on Saturday.
A bugler will play taps and a host of law enforcement and town officials are expected attend as Max — who served in the U.S. military from 2003 to 2007 — is laid to rest beginning at 11 a.m.
“It’s obviously a very bittersweet time,” said Pelton of Northfield, N.H., who adopted Max in 2007 from the Military War Dog Agency at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio after he returned from four years of active duty.
“Having Max for five years was a highlight in my life. He was my walking buddy and near-constant companion. It’s very hard to say goodbye but I take great comfort in the outpouring of love and respect he’s received,” Pelton said in a statement released by the MSPCA.
Pelton has for years been in touch with military officials to determine the nature of Max’s work and where it was performed. “Unfortunately the exact details of the work Max performed — as well as the countries in which that work was performed — remain a mystery to me to this day.” Given his service era, however, it is reasonable to suggest Max was stationed in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Max was trained as a “sniffing dog,” and may have been skilled at detecting explosive material that could endanger the lives of servicemen and women, as well as civilians, in the arenas in which he worked. And according to Pelton he never lost his fiercely loyal and protective nature. “Max literally saved my life years ago when we were walking in the woods and encountered two feral dogs. The dogs jumped toward me and Max immediately sprang into action — fighting them off and very likely saving both our lives.”
Max is the ninth war dog to be buried at Hillside Acre Cemetery which for 80 years has been operated by the MSPCA and is now the final resting place for 18,000 beloved companion and service animals.
Max died on Memorial Day in 2012 and Pelton kept his cremated remains.
Through the Heroes at Hillside program, military dogs such as Max are buried at no cost to their owner. Dave Gordon, who manages the cemetery for the MSPCA, said, “Max served his country with honor and proved just as noble and loyal a companion to Pam after his military service ended. He deserves our respect and we are proud to lay him to rest at Hillside Acre Cemetery.”