After Halloween, the house was full of treats, so Max continued to clean up. Every time the girls ate a treat, he had to have one of his chocolate Goodboys. Like all children who overdose on too much candy, his behavior was predictably erratic. He chased and corralled our neighbour’s cat on the garage roof one day, and then proceeded to watch for it every morning thereafter. Whenever I did my morning aerobics, he would bound about and puff at me as if the entire exercise was exclusively for his benefit. He also developed a new trick—self-taught yet! I was outside in the garden with him, and he caught my eye, then walked over to the chain-link fence that separated our yard from the neighbour’s garden. On our neighbour’s side, there was a small wooden bench, tucked snugly against the fence. Max looked round to make sure I was watching; then he collapsed against the fence, making the bench on the far side fall over. Having sent it flying, he got up, wagged his tail and looked very proud of himself. Later, when I spoke to my neighbor and apologized for what Max had done, she went into convulsions because she had been telling her children off for knocking the bench over. Apparently Max had been making this a daily exercise when out in his garden.
Max’s feistiness did have its uses. Edna and I certainly didn’t worry about walking in the woods when we had him with us. On one occasion, we saw a man hovering in the bushes, and Max barked furiously and saw him off in no uncertain terms. However, his aggressiveness was also enough of a concern that I had to ensure that he was properly supervised, which generally came down to the fact that I had to be present when visitors were in the house, or else Max had to be isolated. This was born out by an incident that caused me great distress during our puppet rehearsals.
Caroline asked if one of her friends could come to watch our practice. I agreed, but put Max out of the rehearsal room since I couldn’t watch him and work marionettes at the same time. However, while I was backstage, Hugh arrived home and answered a phone call which was the mother of Caroline’s friend wanting to speak to her daughter, so he called the girl out and let the dog in. Then when Caroline’s friend returned to the practice room, she saw Max eating one of Katie’s pop tarts and went to grab it from him. Taking food from Max had predictable results. He snapped to get the tart back and Caroline’s friend was bitten. Oh, what a woeful day that was, even though the mother was most understanding and realized that it had been the result of her daughter trying to take food from the dog. But there was no doubt that Max was quick with his mouth and we had to be so very careful with him. Socializing this dog was one of the hardest challenges I’d ever had to deal with.
Fortunately, Remembrance Day proved to be much more upbeat. After a pleasant morning at the George Derby War Veterans’ Hospital where we visited old friends and joined in the service, we came home to prepare a birthday dinner for my father. The girls decided that we should perform our new Birthday Bug show for Gamma after dinner, and this time, Max was welcome in the performance area, cuddled up with his namesake and wagging his tail at all the hilarity.
A few days later, it was my turn to be fussed over, since my birthday was four days after my father’s. Hugh and the girls made me breakfast in bed and brought me a pile of presents. With these was a very artistic card from Katie, one with a cute drawing of the Birthday Bug from Caroline, and a highly appropriate card from Max. On the cover, it said, “From your little angel in disguise.” Inside was a picture of a devil. Max, indeed!