Max Domi’s yellow lab, Orion, has been with him throughout his NHL journey.
Max Domi/Instagram
On the ice, Blackhawks forward Max Domi plays like a fire simmers beneath him.
He’s always ready to explode into celebration after a goal. He’s also always ready to explode into anger if an opponent irritates him. Indeed, there’s rarely a calm moment during his shifts.
“That’s just Max,” Hawks coach Luke Richardson said recently. “He takes things into his own hands. He’s a physical guy, an emotional guy, [and] I can tell when he gets upset and he implements it into his game. He adds that extra gear.”
But once Domi drives home to his self-described “full zoo” of pets, his emotional personality manifests itself in a completely different way. There’s no more devoted animal lover on the Hawks.
“I try to live every day like it’s your last,” Domi said. “But everyone is going to go through tough spells, whether it’s with your work or relationships or family or you got cut off on the highway. But when you go back to the front door and see your dog, all that stuff doesn’t mean anything.
“I’m a huge proponent of having a dog. They’re like a human that unfortunately doesn’t talk. But it’s almost like you can have a full conversation with them. The dog and human connection is unbelievable.”
Since his 2015-16 NHL rookie season with the Coyotes, Domi hasn’t gone anywhere without his beloved yellow Lab, Orion. Last year, Domi added a bengal cat, Leo, to his family. And Domi’s girlfriend, Estelle, had a bunny who passed away last week; Domi dedicated his winning goal against the Red Wings to it.
Orion dressed in a Blackhawks jersey.
Max Domi/Instagram
Domi, the son of legendary NHL enforcer Tie Domi, grew up in Canada around plenty of dogs. But after his diagnosis at 12 with Type 1 diabetes, he needed a special dog — and that’s how he found Orion, who had been specially trained for diabetics by an organization in California.
“I would take cotton swabs of my mouth if [my blood sugar] was low or high,” Domi explained. “It gives off distinct smells for dogs; it’s totally different if it’s low or high in range. He was trained from the time he was a puppy, after he got all his obedience stuff done, to retrieve that scent. He would know something’s off. When he would get that scent, he would do something to alert me or whoever [was around].”
For a long time, Domi didn’t like the idea of having “too many gadgets” attached to his body, finding them bulky and uncomfortable underneath his hockey gear. That meant he truly needed Orion to keep an eye — or, more accurately, a nose — on him at all times. His health depended on it.
When Domi’s glucose levels deviated out of the normal range, Orion would grab a dog-toy-like roller attached to Domi’s belt, called a bringsel, to notify him. If Domi was asleep or oblivious, Orion would dial things up a notch by barking or jumping on him. During Domi’s first few NHL seasons, which he admits were “overwhelming” at times, having a literal watchdog was an invaluable resource.
“When I was at a dinner, at a movie, on a plane, wherever it may have been, and he was with me, he’d alert me,” he said. “I would know I was low, and I could treat it before I was in a major situation. What he could do was fascinating.”
Domi and Orion.
Max Domi/Instagram
Three years ago, he finally gave into technological advancement and began wearing a continuous glucose-monitoring device — a Dexcom G6 — on his triceps. He also wears an insulin pump on his glute, and both devices stay on even during games. Domi has encountered in-game complications before.
“Every day, you’re going to go through something,” he said. “You just have to take the punches as they go. You establish a good routine over the years: If this happens, I’ll do this, [or] if that happens, I’ll do that. There’s a lot of times where you have to fight through feeling not-so-hot. It makes you pretty mentally tough. It’s something that’s definitely shaped me into who I am.”
The decision to wear the Dexcom has changed his life, he said, and made Orion less essential for health purposes.
But it certainly hasn’t made Orion less essential otherwise because their bond is based on far more than logistical necessity.
“When he knows you better than anyone else does, it’s a pretty spectacular connection,” Domi said. “I love him more than anything on the planet.”
Domi has bounced around the league far more than most 27-year-old forwards, making stops in Arizona, Montreal, Columbus and Carolina before landing in Chicago this summer, and Orion has gone everywhere with him.
Given the Hawks’ rebuilding plans and Domi’s one-year contract, they’re a good bet to move again before the trade deadline in March. Domi has clicked immediately with the Hawks in the meantime, though, picking up seven points (including four goals) in his first seven games.
Leo joined Domi’s family in 2021.
Max Domi/Instagram
Back at home, Orion was joined by Leo in the spring of 2021 after Domi — who’d previously “never had any exposure to cats at all” — realized he loved them, too, thanks to a chance encounter on a Caribbean vacation in the Turks and Caicos.
“We were staying at this beautiful resort, and this cat was just part of the resort in the lobby,” Domi explained. “He kept coming up to me the whole trip. And I just thought, ‘Oh, I’m the cat whisperer! This is pretty cool. This cat’s awesome.’
“I joked about it with [Estelle] like, ‘Hey, I might get a cat.’ She was like, ‘No, you’re not.’ And, sure enough, I got a knock on the door, and my cat showed up. I love him just like I love my dog.”
And that’s saying a lot because Domi sure loves his dog.
“It’s unbelievable how smart dogs are, and I think my dog is the smartest dog out there,” he said with a grin. “I’m not biased at all.”


By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *