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  • Writer's picturefmblum

Meet Max the Dog

When my boys set their minds to getting me to do something, they usually eventually prevail. It may take a while, but except for the flame thrower, I usually give in. Of course, I can fool myself into thinking it was my idea, but it is pretty easy to see the originators in hindsight.

That explains why Max the Dog moved in with the boys, our other dog Lucy and cat Roxy. Before describing how we got Max, I should introduce you to him. Meet Max. Max, meet the world.

When the kids were younger, they and their Mom convinced me that it was a good idea that we should provide a home for three Great Pyrenees. The dogs - Loki, Jezebel, and Bogie - weighed collectively over 300 lbs. There were also two cats and, for a while, over 20 fish. It was a happy household, notwithstanding that insane asylums called us when they could not figure out how to respond to mayhem.

Loki, Gavin, Mary, Bogie, Mike & Jezzy

The dogs were a calming influence. Pyrs are guard dogs who are left on their own for months to guard flocks of goats and sheep from predators. They have long white fur that gets into every crevice of the the house and when it accumulates, resembles tumbleweeds. They do what they want when they want, and how they want. They are also loving, will die to keep you safe, and are difficult to upset. When chaos erupts around them, we could count on the three Pyrs, especially Loki, to be the model of sanity and calm. That calm would turn to radical alertness when they sensed one of us was in danger. Like when Jezzy stopped Mary from jogging past a bush because a strange man hid behind the bush. Or when Loki quickly convinced three potential muggers to go somewhere else.

Loki went to dog heaven first and was followed by Bogie. Then, within months of Bogie's passing, we invited Lucy into our home. It wasn't a difficult decision, and it was inevitable that a second dog would be added. That was almost six years ago. Jezzy and Lucy hit it off almost immediately and were the best of buds until Jezzy passed away. That was more than three years ago.

Jezzy and Lucy, as a puppy

Since Jezzy's passing, Lucy has been the sole dog of the house. Within a few weeks of losing Jezzy, the boys asked when we would get a new dog. By now, they knew the drill for how to proceed. First, find the strategic moment when Lucy was lying by herself and comment that she looked lonely. Then, wait until we were ready to leave the house and drop a remark that it was mean to leave Lucy home alone. When it was their birthday or another celebration, and I asked what they wanted, say a friend for Lucy. Or, as a last resort, just stand in front of the TV and ask when we are getting another dog.

For three years, I held firm in the face of an orchestrated campaign that rivaled the D-Day invasion. Frankly, I had enough responsibilities in my life and wasn't looking for another. Also, I enjoyed spending time with just Lucy. The kids were older, and Lucy and I were pals. When I ran errands or drove to get something, Lucy would join me. We's eat dinner together. Weekends she and I would wake up, I'd get dressed, and she would stare and jump up on her hind legs until we left for the dog park. I'd stop for a latte, and she would get a small cup of whipped cream - a puppachino.

At the dog park, Lucy would stand on the table and look over her domain. She was the queen of all that she sees. She ensured that no coyotes or other predators entered the park.

Like so many other things, COVID changed the equation. Before COVID, I traveled quite a bit and went to work almost every day. Lucy was used to me being away from home. By the time there was an end in sight of the shutdown orders, Lucy reacted differently even when I was gone for half an hour. When I would return, she would meet me at the door, jump up and rest her head on my right shoulder as I rubbed her ear. Then she would move her head to my other shoulder for the other side to be rubbed. Lucy would whine the entire time.

When I mentioned to the kids that I was worried about Lucy when I went back to work, the boys saw their opening. Immediately, like a good tank commander, they went for victory. "Dad, you can't leave Lucy alone when you go back to work. She needs another dog to keep her company." “Dad, she'll bark all day if she's all alone" "Dad, since Lucy needs a friend, I'll take care of them. You don't have to worry."

I didn't believe the last promise since I've been a parent a long time and I'm not stupid. But they were playing on my legitimate worries. I started to talk to friends at the dog park, and one of them mentioned a place near Auburn, California, that had half Pyr/Golden Retriever puppies for adoption. It was called 1love dogs rescue. I made a call, looked at some photos, and made the mistake of telling the kids what I was thinking. At that point, I was toast. The decision had been made.

On May 8, 2021, we got into the car and drove to Auburn. There were eight puppies available, and the boys picked Max. Near the end, they suggested we get two, and for a moment, I considered it. Luckily Lucy was with us, and she knew what I was thinking. She gave me THE LOOK, you know, the one that said that I was out of my ever-loving mind. One addition to her home was fine. Two was a deal-breaker.

On getting home, the first thing we did was thank Lucy for opening her home to the less fortunate.. Then, Mary assured Lucy that she was still the queen.

Assured, Lucy had a talk with Max to lay down the law.

Then it was time to relax and get to know each other; Max started to investigate his new home and get acquainted with his new family.

That was over two months ago, and I haven't looked back. But I swear that Max is the last dog!

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