With all the trials, tribulations and losses keeping our spirits low, we certainly didn’t need any more problems with Max. Therefore, when the community school announced an evening course on first aid for pets, I decided that this would be time well spent, given my dog’s propensity for injuring himself on a regular basis. Edna also attended, and we were both amazed to discover how much we already knew, due to having weathered so many ailments with Mr. Max. Edna cracked up the entire class by telling Max stories. It seemed Max was the class clown even without being present.
Performing of another kind was also keeping us busy. We tried out our new production of Babes in the Wood at St. Andrews United Church, courtesy of our good friends, Al and Sue Dahlo, who had arranged the booking there. The show went well, except for a complete halt in the middle when the resident sound techie who had insisted he could run the tape for us stopped it mid show because his wife came to speak to him and he thought the performance was over. After this annoying hiatus, we carried on to enthusiastic applause, although afterwards I was told off by a very austere lady who informed me that Dame Vera’s comic opera ‘Suicido’ scene was inappropriate for children. The church children, however, seemed resilient and did not appear traumatized, particularly the little boy who marched backstage, pointed at Robin Hood’s arrows that lined the castle battlements, and demanded to see the ‘missiles’.
We also had a new ‘Max’ show. This was Guard Dog on Duty, a cute romp that started with a village pageant and ended with a scene on the farm where Max and Brandy cornered a couple of crooks who had strayed from the pageant. Our first gig for this show was at the Teachers’ Credit Union in White Rock, and when we arrived, we found we were to set up our theatre by the front window, so as a result, although the families in the bank enjoyed watching the puppet show, all the passers-by on the street were treated to a view of our rear ends bobbing around as we worked the marionettes. Not our most glorious moment.
As the weather improved, there were more outdoor activities for the family, which Max thoroughly enjoyed. He was particularly happy when I took him along for Caroline’s track meet in Langley. To his delight there were lots of dogs watching the events. He especially liked a large, yellowish female Lab with pretty eyes and a friendly disposition. Max never passed an opportunity to flirt in Brandy’s absence. He also recognized the jangly music as the ice-cream van came by and towed me across the field, panting happily in anticipation of getting an ice cream. He also liked the concession stand. I lined up to get a hot dog for lunch, and when I reached the front of the line, the vendor said, “Who’s next?” and Max promptly stood up and put his paws on the counter. Her expression was something to behold.
By now, Max had mastered a whole raft of tricks, and he was quite the ham in front of a crowd. He loved to perform, and always ended up with his bow. He had even been featured on a local cable program along with his marionette. As a result, he was becoming quite the little celebrity with the people that saw him go out for his daily walk. One day, Katie’s class was going on a field trip to the Children’s Festival so she had gone to school early. The buses and children were already lined up along the road as Max and I set off on our morning walk, and Max received cheers from the students as we went by.
However, all this adulation seemed to go to his head and he started his bad-boy-rock-star behaviour again, one day scaring the life out of me by taking off after the coyote in the woods. I heard the most awful yelping sounds in the bush and thought Max had been hurt, but he finally came thundering back, glittering-eyed and unharmed, with the yelping continuing in the distance, so I realized that the noise was the coyote defending its territory. Then, on Mother’s Day, Max picked a fight with a dog in Lighthouse Park when we stopped for a walk on the way to visit my parents. Max seemed very pleased with himself after this encounter and was in high spirits all the way to Nana and Gamma’s house. Wearily, I called Gary Gibson for yet another chat and was told that this was fairly typical of dogs like Max. They would be good for a while, and then regress and begin to challenge their owner’s leadership. Max had to be put in his place again. Back to basic training for the Ho Hum Ham with an attitude.