Being such a rebellious dog, Max felt right at home during the early part of our difficult years, because suddenly he was in sync with the rest of the family, all of whom were feeling pretty mutinous over the pounding we were taking from the legal system. Even sweet young Katie started to kick at the rules, particularly on one notable occasion when Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry visited Burnaby South High School.
Katie was desperate to see the royals and she was most annoyed with me for insisting that she was not allowed to skip school that day and join the crowds at Burnaby South. As I pointed out, given the mob of young girls that would be present, she would never be able to get close to the princes anyway. However, Katie ignored my order, went AWOL with her friends, and in spite of my prediction, got to talk to all three of the princes. But she didn’t get away with her escapade. Her photo was taken by a press photographer and she found her picture all over the local papers. Was she contrite? No, in true Max fashion, she was jubilant about the fact that a little disobedience resulted in a lot of fun.
In October, 1998, there was some respite to our troubles when our older daughter was acquitted on all charges. However, almost as soon as the trial was over, my father went into hospital for the last time, so the next two months involved daily commutes to the North Shore to visit him and make sure Mum was all right. All this time, we were preparing for our new Christmas show. This was The Highwayman’s Christmas, a lively romp with some points of reference to The Beggars’ Opera, with Max as MaxHeath, a rascally dog who reforms and saves Santa Claus from Mad Jack, the Highwayman.
For the first time, we had not only taken private gigs, but had also arranged a seven-show run as a co-production with the Vagabond Players, so we were keen to make the show really special. Poor Max was short-changed during the final preparations for this show, as each day, I would pack up my sewing kit and take my puppets to the hospital so that I could visit with my father while I completed the costumes and stringing. Good old Dad. He might have been dying of cancer, but I can still see the glint in his eye as his face lit up when the buxom red-headed Ma Foxyfingers came out of the puppet box. “Oh, yes, I like that one!” he said.
As if being left so much at home was not sufficient annoyance for Max, he soon had another source of aggravation. Hugh had stored bats of fiberglass insulation along the fence that surrounded our carport, and one day we noticed a little grey and white Manx cat sleeping there. This became a regular occurrence as the weather grew colder and once we had noticed her, the cat began to meow and ask for attention and we realized she was a stray. We suddenly remembered that there had been notices about a missing cat of that description during the summer, so if it were the same cat, she had been fending for herself for several months. We also realized that the newcomer had a lot of spirit, for in spite of Max’s growls and yowls of protest on the other side of the fence, she persistently returned, often glowering at him from the top of the fence but refusing to give up the territory she had claimed.
Katie, of course, became anxious to adopt the newcomer, but we realized that her former owners might be searching for her, so we contacted the SPCA and put up notices around the neighbourhood. However, there were no responses and we assumed that the people had moved out of the area. So, in spite of Max’s sulky face, we tentatively claimed the little Manx and took her to our vet for a check-up. Katie christened her Minx, and Minx the Manx she remained. However, to Katie’s alarm, the first thing the vet noticed was that Minx had a tattoo in her ear. While Katie clutched the little cat to her breast and muttered furiously about ‘my cat’, the vet went to check the registration on the tattoo. It turned out that Minx had been spade gratis through the shelter, which meant she had belonged to a family on welfare. This reinforced our feeling that the people had moved, since they would probably have been renting. The vet looked at the three of us, an anxious trio, lovingly cuddling the cat, considered his options, and decided to re-register the cat.
Thus, in the midst of our trials and tribulations, we acquired a little grey and white bundle of joy and Max acquired, not only a lifetime foe, but a co-star to carry out an ongoing feud in a whole series of puppet shows. One Ho Hum Husky with his nose right out of joint!