All through October we were struggling with puppet tasks, and Max wasn’t the only thing that was misbehaved. Hugh was at his crankiest, coping with work all day and trying to finish a new travelling theatre in the evenings; the girls were rebelling at having to spend so much play time recording Katie’s Halloween Adventure; the new computer was outwitting me at every turn; and every time I tried to print a new batch of promo letters, the operation went at a snail’s pace while the laptop burped and blipped and jammed on me.
Hugh was still making various attempts to carve the new Max puppet, though it was proving a challenge to get it right. Max liked to watch this exercise. He seemed to think the various body parts were chew toys and seemed quite put out that he couldn’t have them. Having a family marionette company was certainly not easy. We were encouraged to persevere when a call came from the Burnaby Village Museum booking us for Christmas, so at least we knew a good gig was in the offing, but everyone was feeling a little frayed.
We really needed some respite from Max’s terrible-two behavior, but none came. A weekend walk at the Fraser Foreshore turned into a nightmare when he unearthed and ate a revolting scungy work sock. He literally gulped it down whole: mud, river water, pine needles and all! We rushed home to call the vet for advice and then spent the next hour with Hugh standing on the deck, talking on the phone to Dr. Zinger, while I administered to Max down on the grass. Dr. Zinger told us to feed Max hydrogen peroxide until he brought the sock up. It sounded a bit brutal, but if that was the treatment, we had to try it.
The first spoonful produced nothing more than a licking of the lips and an eager face that asked for more. However, no sock came up. Dr. Zinger ordered us to keep trying, so spooful after spoonful went down Max’s gullet. Poor baby! After a while, he actually had tears in his eyes. It took at least half an hour before the sock came up and Dr. Zinger was released from the phone call. Talk about service beyond the call of duty. He didn’t even bill us for his time, though I suspect, from the way his receptionist always talked, the entire veterinarian office used to dine out on Max stories. Max was not impressed with this exercise. The look he gave me after finally regurgitating the sock was something to behold: “The lengths you’ll go to make me drop it!”
The hydrogen-peroxide lunch did not do anything to improve Max’s behavior. Later that day, we took a motorhome meals-on-wheels to Mum and Dad’s, and while we trekked in with plates of food, Max added to his misconduct by cornering a raccoon and chasing it under the porch. On Sunday, he was even worse. We had an abysmal time in the park due to the fact that he went AWOL and it took most of the walk to track him down. He finally returned, eyes glittering, but we had no idea what he’d been up to. However, on the Monday, when I walked with Edna, I discovered the solution to the mystery of the missing Max. Edna had also been walking in the park, accompanied by her mother and her mother’s dog, Neisha. They had been up at the top of the wooded trail, whereas we’d been down at the bottom of the park. Max had picked up Brandy’s scent and had decided to join his girlfriend. Then, having tracked her down at the top of the trail, he’d promptly attacked Neisha for daring to walk with ‘his’ Brandy. He’d also nipped Brandy when she’d tried to intervene. Needless to say, after hearing this story from Edna, I went home and put Max in a long down, whereupon the sulky expression appeared as if to say: “But I was good today.” For the future star of our shows, he certainly needed to work on his image. We definitely weren’t going to manage Benjie, but hopefully there was something halfway between that and Fang, Wild Dog of the North.