As Halloween approached, Max seemed determined to outdo himself in delinquency. One day, Edna and I took the dogs down to the Brunette River. Soon after we reached the water, Max went thundering off into the bush and ignored all calls to come back. Five minutes later, he emerged, his face, throat and back covered with blood. He looked horrific, as if a raccoon had lacerated him. I clipped on his leash, and we immediately started back, thinking a trip to the vet was urgent, but after a few seconds, I noticed that (a) Max was bounding along vigorously, (b) he looked rather pleased with himself, and (c) he stank to high heaven. On closer examination, we realized there were no wounds. He had simply rolled in a revolting pile of fish guts. By this time, I stank to high heaven too, so I got him home, gave him a bath, stripped and threw all my clothes in the wash, showered, and finally collapsed with a cup of coffee, which was quite unappetizing as the fishy smell still permeated everything.
Another day, Max found two yucky old bones and became quite aggressive when we tried to make him drop them. After a while, one became too heavy and he abandoned it, but he clung to the other for dear life, his jaws clenched around it like a vice. Finally, we managed to trick him into dropping it in the creek, whereupon it sank to the bottom like a stone. Max indignantly leaped in and dove for it, but presumably it had gone right down into the muddy bottom. The silly dog persevered, diving and coming up with a face covered with mud. By the time he realized it was hopeless and gave up, his white muzzle was jet black. Home for another bath.
A week before Halloween, Hugh finally finished the Max marionette. It was perfect, and continues to be perfect today. The body looked like a little bulldozer, which was very appropriate for our Mackie. Everyone in the family agreed that it was a delightful marionette, although at the time, we had no idea just how popular it was to be with our audiences. Max’s puppet was to perform in shows, street festivals and parades, and even once went down to strut its stuff in Kansas, Missouri. It was, and still is, my very favourite of all our marionettes.
But back to the real Max and his misdemeanors. Around four o’clock that afternoon, Hugh and I heard a loud bang. We thought it might be Katie coming home from her friend’s house, but we couldn’t see her anywhere. We looked out all the doors, and finally noticed that one of the two pumpkins that had been sitting on the deck waiting to be carved was now in the stairwell and the other one was nowhere to be seen. After further exploration, we found it, alongside a sheepish looking Max, at the foot of the stairs. Max had stolen it and dragged it down to the lawn, then had returned for the other one, only to miscalculate and send it flying into the stairwell where it banged on the back door and alerted us. We decided we could now add ‘Pumpkin Thief’ to his string of titles.
Halloween finally arrived, but Max and I were left to man the home fort together. Caroline was off to see Andre’s football game, Hugh was at night school, and Katie was trick and treating with her friends. So how to cope with a terrible-two dog and a horde of children coming to the door? It actually worked out quite well. I set a bowl of dog biscuits besides the bowl of candies. Then, whenever I went to the door, I made Max sit and stay while I dispensed the treats. Then, if he’d been good, I gave him one of his cookies. He was remarkably well behaved for a terrible two, though he was very anxious to see who was at the door. He sat straining so far forward that he actually resembled a swan. He seemed to enjoy the evening, however, and barked every time there was a knock to make sure I didn’t miss any of the visitors—no Halloween howl, though, just one decorous woof to alert me. Maybe we were going to train that misbehaved mutt yet!