by John Delach
Max is our sixth Golden Retriever. He traveled from a breeder in Missouri by truck with the comical name: PetEx Express. He and his sister, Ruby, arrived on November 11, 2010. Ruby was a birthday gift for our daughter-in-law, Jodie and her three kids named the two pups after the story-book and TV cartoon brother and sister rabbits. Max succeeded Maggie who we lost the previous summer.
Our first Golden was Harry. Then came Fred, Bubba, Jumbo and Maggie. Harry was our first and a grand dog. Knowing what I now know about Max, his disposition, attitude, temperament, etc. Harry would have been a great name for this Missouri dog. Failing that, I would have pushed for Truman because he is a “show-me-dog.”
Max was our first pup in a long time. We acquired Maggie in 1999 when she was ten-months old and already a certified Looney Tune. Anyone who knows us and knew Maggie will certify that she was f—ing nuts.
Folks we know looked at Mary Ann and me in a way that clearly showed their thoughts: “The two of you are either dumb or crazy.” I too had real doubts about what we had done. A puppy with all that it brings. The biting, destruction, housebreaking, sleepless nights and other unpleasant happenings and events. WHAT HAVE WE DONE?
Admittedly, we had some bad moments, but this new pup was special. He gave us a pass on one of the fundamental problems, crying through the night. Not Max. He took to his crate (cage) for naps during the day and to sleep without fuss and remained quiet and dry until we woke him up. And those are magical words: “Until we woke him.” He remained contented until he heard action. Then he’d whine, but when we opened the door, he usually reacted by first looking at us, stretched, got up, stretched again and exited the crate to begin his day.
Also importantly, almost from the beginning, the floor of the crate would be dry even after eight hours. Max was clean even for Goldens who by nature house break themselves quickly. Max also proved to be very trainable. He’d cooperate for love but we quickly realized that he did and he’ll do almost anything for food.
The biting lasted more than a year, never vicious, he just had the need to use those teeth. Unfortunately, this meant that play sessions deteriorated into bloody sessions especially for Mary Ann whose thin-skinned arms and hands soon made her look like a serial knife fighter. Mary Ann’s ultimate defense was to cut the toes off of athletic socks and fashion them into shields to minimize the damage to her skin.
Max grew rapidly almost before our eyes and quickly became known in the neighborhood as the dog who carried sticks around in his mouth the size of small trees. A fine looking dog, one gal remarked to me one day: “Wow, is that dog good looking. Why he’s the Robert Redford of Golden Retrievers.”
He grew and grew rapidly. One problem with this is he thought flapping children wearing oversized jackets, sweaters or hoodies were great sport who should be brought to the ground by grabbing on to the back of their garments. Needless to say this activity led to some difficult crises until we learned to anticipate when this was going to occur. Fortunately, he outgrew this impulse.
Now an adult about to turn five he would be a total pleasure if not for his need to steal. And steal he does, clothes, shoes, towels, throw rugs, mats, pillows and even blankets and bed spreads. The only good news about his stealing regimen is he considers it to be retrieving and he brings the items to us with his plume tail high in the air proud of his prowess.
On the whole, this adventure has gone well and he’s a love. But if sometime in the future, hopefully way down the road, we even consider a puppy again; please, I beg of you, shoot us.