Sunday, March 3, 2013

Maximum Fun

I am a dog person . . . and to a somewhat lesser extent a cat person.  In addition to the two bipeds who currently live at my house, we have a total of four quadrapeds -- two canine and two feline.  At one point we also had two snake-type (i.e. no-peds) but they both slithered off to the Rainbow Bridge.  This post is about the most junior member of the household.

Max turned five in November and he is very much like most 5 year old boy creatures.  He enjoys junk food (whenever he can lay his paws on it), sleeping in on the weekends, harassing his sisters (mostly the feline one, who I will admit seems to egg him on) and he will cuddle up if he thinks there is something in it for him.  He is cute and he knows how to use it to his advantage.

Now, Max came to our family when he was already almost two years old.  My cousin had rescued him from an owner who was unhappy that he was not a the 5-pound 'Yorkie' she believed she had bought.  She was planning to have him 'put down'.  There is a very special place in Hell for someone who would consider doing that.  Seriously, I do not care what his "papers" (not CKC variety) say, he is NOT a Yorkie.  He weighs a healthy 15 pounds and no matter how long we go between trips to the puppy parlour, his hair never gets long and silky.  He has a double-coat with a water-proof outer layer, like a Cairn or Westie.  My personal opinion (and that of my vet and her techs) is that he is an Australian Terrier -- pretty much breed standard in fact. 

Max was rehomed with me when my dear cousin's first grandbaby was born and she found her house overfull with 2 teens, a baby and 3 dogs.  Max fit into our household quite well, making friends with the senior canine (Scully, who was 13 at the time) and working out the pecking order with the two kitties. 

The first hint of Max's issues began when one of the Pumpkin's friends came for a sleepover. S is yet another of the Pumpkin's beautiful and creative friends.  The fact she arrived at our house wearing kitten ears and a tail (and no, it wasn't Hallowe'en) tells much.  However, for a girl who lives in a house of critters (dogs, cats and the occasional bird or other beastie she rescues when it is in need of TLC), she did not react well to Max's barking at the door.  For the record, the best way to 'react' when a dog barks and jumps at the front door (especially one where the owner is standing next to it and is clearly trying to work with it) is to stand still and let the dog be 'introduced' to you.  S, did not do this.  She RAN, which to Max meant "chase me and bring me down".  He nipped her ankle.  No skin was broken or blood drawn, thankfully. 

The next 'incident' was when we were walking around the local lake in our old neighbourhood.  Scully has always been good at meeting the proverbial 'puppies in your neighbourhood'.  Max, not so much.  He would bark and lunge.  One evening on our after supper walk, we met up with an adorable Golden Retriever Pup.  At first, I thought Max was just being 'dog' and greeting the baby (who was Max's size already).  The baby 'nipped' at Max (as babies are prone to do) and Max nipped back.  I was mortified.  The poor little pup's nose was scratched.  I apologized and got the owner's phone number.  When I called her back after we had gotten home, she said the pup was fine.   I suggested a rematch in about 8 months when said puppy would be 4 or 5 times Max's size.

Flash forward to last year after we had moved to Calgary.  Puppy walks through the neighbourhood were getting painful . . . with Max essentially 'going off' everytime he saw any other creature in the vicinity.  It did not matter if it was a squirrel, a bunny, another dog or one of the free-range neighbourhood cats.  He was also getting worse, not better at the door.  Finally, in an act of desperation we signed up for a class called "Goodbye Growl" and spent 10 weeks working on Max being able to be in the same space with another on-leash dog.  OY.  He wasn't the worst in the class, but he wasn't the star either.  I resigned myself to trying to work with him (reward him for staying calm when we would see other creatures on our walks) and accepting that this was just how his temperament was.

Recently I started dating a fellow who also has critters.  He has two adorable Bichon/Cocker Spaniel crosses who love, love, love the off leash parks that dot our city.  A couple of weeks ago we decided it was time to introduce the dogs.  I brought Max (Scully is getting too old for long walks, especially on chilly days) to the off leash park with the understanding that it might be a very, very, very short stay.  I pretty much figured Max would go completely psycho, I would scoop him up and toss him back in the car and that would be that.

Guess I underestimated the little dude.  Once off leash he was in his element.  He frolicked, he played, he made friends -- not just with my friend's dogs but with any number of assorted canines.  I spent most of the time we were there shaking my head in wonder and amazement. 

Max is a completely different critter when he can run free . . . He is happier when he gets some quality play time and I am a happier owner.

Now, if he could just stop wanting to kill visitors.....


  1. So nice to have found another Albertan. I use to live in Calgary, but left the urban rush to raise my girls in a small rural town 45 mins. NE of the city. Now 26 years and 2 raised girlies later, I enjoy my grandchildren and my "best" friend (a very close second to Hubby) a 7 years old bichon shitzu who I just love, love, love! Even though his second name is "bad doggy"!

  2. Hi, Barbara! We Albertans are everywhere . . . and yes, at times Max thinks his name is "no, no, no" . . . although that name also frequently gets used for the other 'boy' in the house . . my daughter's cat, Mumble.
    Thanks for reading!