Max has been a vital aspect of our lives for five years now, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Acquiring this lovely rescue dog was arguably the best decision we ever made as a couple as he has brought such joy to us.
Aside from shedding vast amounts of fur for about 11 months of the year, we have no complaints. He is friendly, as bright as he needs to be, fastidiously clean, never steals food from anywhere, including his own kibble, even though it’s in easy access. He can be noisy if someone comes to the door, but he sees that as his job, and so do we. Otherwise he is pathologically friendly and ‘smiley’. He loves everyone, with the possible exception of adolescent males if they are too overt in approaching him. And he likes most other dogs, with the exception of buoyant puppies, which he will promptly put in their place.
He has no predatory instincts and squirrels and rabbits are quite safe around the Maxter. He also has no impulse to retrieve anything. You could throw a ball until you expire from exhaustion and all he would do is look at where the ball went, then shrug and walk away.
From the day we found him at the Nanaimo SPCA we have never had a second thought about the wisdom of our decision to get him. We just ‘knew’ he was the right one. Wendy had never owned a dog before and was a bit wary. But has often said since that as her introduction to matters canine, we could not have done better than we have with Max.
Aside from his other virtues, he’s also very handsome and as we grew weary of people asking what he was – and he is a mongrel, but mongrels are, to me, the worthiest dogs to acquire – we decided to get his DNA tested a few years ago. So, he is an amalgam of predominantly smooth collie, malamute and (for some reason not clear to us, chow), even though he does not look chow-ish. Oh, and about 37 other breeds thrown into his heritage mix. Yes, his mother was a slut.
So, a half decade ago we drove to Nanaimo and there we saw this forlorn looking chap in a kennel compartment there (pictured) and it was so sad, in retrospect, to see him in that state.
And what has always galled us a bit is that we do not know his backstory. How did he end up in a shelter? How on earth could anyone have given up such a wonder-dog? When we got him he was not well. He was about 20 pounds underweight, he was riddled with worms (including tapeworm, we found out) and had a ton of tartar on his teeth. In other words, he’d had a hard-scrabble life. And yet he was also highly unneurotic. According to his ‘rap-sheet’ he had once killed a chicken. I don’t believe that, or if he did then he was obviously in the throes of starvation.
Supposedly he was surrendered to the shelter. The story went that he was abandoned by his original owner and then a local lady with an acreage took him on. She obviously taught him some manners as his behavior is so good, and he seemed to have had a modicum of training, though we did have to take him for some dog-obedience when we first got him just to attune ourselves to some fine points of what to expect.
So, after he came to live with us we addressed his veterinary concerns and ended up with a fine, strapping and healthy dog. I am reminded of the day we got him and were in conversation with a woman who walked him regularly. She was a bit heartsick about him being adopted by us only in the sense that she would, and in her own words, “miss him so painfully.”
So, we have never looked back and all I can say in retrospect is, if you are thinking of acquiring a dog, then do what we did and get a rescue. The bonus is that the animal will be so grateful to you for having done so. And, who knows, you might get a MAX.
The leading photo is his SPCA shelter picture and it still makes me sad to see that, thinking how bleak his thoughts must have been at the time.