Spring break brought Max’s first experience of school holidays. He enjoyed it; I did not. The first day, I came home from grocery shopping to find a mob of little girls roaring around the garden with Max in hot pursuit. How cute, I thought. How nice that they’re having fun. Leaving them to enjoy their games, I took advantage of some time to work on the sets for the puppet show. In the meantime, the girls’ antics including encouraging Max on the bed, letting him run through the flower garden, and making him play Mr. Dressup. After dinner, I did some more painting, not tuning in to the fact that Max and his entourage had been getting progressively more hyper throughout the day. When they roared in to see what I was doing, Katie dumped my paint water all over the kitchen and Max simultaneously did a runny pooh all down the hall carpet. End of set-painting for that day.
The next morning, we awoke to another hall streaked with runny pooh. I scrubbed and scraped for an hour, then took Max to the vet for a checkup. General consensus: kids-at-home = kids-having-snacks = kids-sharing-snacks-with-Max. We came home with pills for Max’s tummy and instructions for the girls to stop sharing their loot with the dog. However, the girls were not the only ones home and stirring things up during the holidays. Hugh was off school too, busily catching up on gardening and never remembering to close gates and doors as he went in and out. Result, a major panic in late afternoon when we suddenly realized that Max was nowhere to be found. A frantic search around the neighbourhood ensued, but finally Hugh and Caroline tracked him down. He was up the lane, having decided to visit two dogs that we walked by every morning when we started our daily outing.
After that, I wised up, abandoned the marionette projects and concentrated on activities that involved Max and the girls under my supervision. We took some long rambles with the girls’ friends. The woods below the George Derby Centre stretched all the way past Cariboo road and down to the Brunette River, which gave Max a wonderful run and provided the girls with fabulously imaginative adventure walks. Deer Lake offered an exhilarating hike too, especially as rainfall had flooded the area and made sections impassible, so that we had to loop back and forth to ford the streams. Max discovered the joy of chasing ducks through water that came right up to his armpits.
Home activities were fun as well. Max and I played audience, while the girls organized a Barbie fashion show. Katie and I trained Max to come to a whistle, although he was more interested in chewing on the rope that we attached to his collar in order to yard him in. The vet had OK’d Good Boy canine chocolate drops for training treats, so after a while, Max realized that the treats tasted better than the rope, and he began to figure out that coming when called wasn’t such a bad idea. We also introduced him to his first squeaky toys. At first, he was hesitant about taking his loot. He seemed overwhelmed. However once he realized the toys were his, he was blissfully happy for the rest of the evening, chomping, squeaking and tossing to his heart’s content. However, I could not watch him every minute of the day, and the Max-gets-snacks problem still went on when I wasn’t looking. Sure enough, the following weekend, we awoke to another giant pooh. I cleaned it up and took him for a walk in case there was more to come. Then off to the vets for more pills.
It was a relief the following Tuesday when everyone went back to school. However, Max scared the crossing guard out of her wits. When she blew her whistle, he leapt up into the air and puffed at her enthusiastically. I explained that he’d come to her whistle and was expecting a Good Boy. Kate giggled all the way across the road. However, Max soon forgot about the Good Boys, because dropping the girls at school meant we were back to walking with Edna and Brandy. At soon as we reached Edna’s, Max heard Brandy barking inside the house, and he sat down and wagged his tail as if to say, “I’m not moving until she comes out.” When she emerged, it was kisses galore! The two had a great post-holiday reunion. It was so nice to get back to the regular routine. No more worrying about open gates, or rivers on the carpet after overdoses of popcorn and jellybeans.
As we walked, I told Edna about the trials and tribulations of the holiday and expressed relief over the fact that I no longer had to worry about the after-effects of junk food on Max’s digestive tract. Edna listened sympathetically, but as we reached the last stretch of the walk and approached the end of the trail, she shrieked and pointed behind me. I spun round and followed her gaze. Max was sitting at the side of the path, his smiley best-boy-in-the-class face shining with pride under his pointed ears. From his clenched jaw, a dead mole hung by its tail.
I looked at him sternly and told him to leave it. He stared back innocently. The mole remained where it was. I offered him a Good Boy, which normally would guarantee he’d open his mouth. He refused the trade, turning his head away from the treat. Pendulum-like, the mole swung with him. I tried physically to separate Max’s jaws. It was as effective as trying to open a vice with a toothpick.
Finally, in desperation, I stared Max straight in the eye and bellowed, “Drop it!” Max stared right back, and promptly dropped it—right down his gullet! Then, pleased as Punch, he burped, ducked out of my reach and trotted back to play with Brandy.
To this day, Edna still reminisces about Max and the mole. Somehow, the incident summed up his personality to perfection. It was the first of many confrontations, but Max was happy. He knew the score. Max – 1; Owner – 0. Obviously, I still had a lot to learn.
Next: Dog Ahoy!