June was busting out all over, and with outdoor fun and summer weather, Max was in a mellow mood. For all that he was a feisty dog, he enjoyed the action when the children and their friends were around. One weekend, when Hugh was away on a fishing trip, the girls had a camp-out in the garden. Max was very interested in the whole process. While the girls set up their camp, his fluffy bottom kept disappearing inside the tent. He was undeterred, even when sections of canvas collapsed all over him, and he would probably have stayed to sleep with them if I hadn’t insisted he come inside with me.
Suddenly feeling social, Max wanted to be friends with everyone. When I walked Katie to the pool for school swimming classes, he shook hands with Nancy Ebert, Katie’s lovely teacher, who was also a friend from Vagabond Players. When we returned tapes to Video Spot, he shook hands with the lady in the store. He enjoyed a daily session of pats and praise from our mailman, and he performed ‘Bang, you’re dead’ for the store clerks at Early Bird when accompanying Hugh on an errand. When I picked up the girls from a visit at a friend’s house, Max did his tricks on the family’s front lawn. It was a new and welcome phase. He seemed to be in love with the whole world.
One Saturday, we took him to the Foreshore Park. It was raining and we thought that we’d have the place to ourselves. However, on our arrival, we found hundreds of people, cars and canines. It was the annual dog show for the Lower Mainland association for whippets, wolfhounds and their ilk. Max was fascinated. I don’t think he realized there were actually that many dogs in the world. He didn’t know which way to look. Finally, when we stopped to watch some whippets in the show ring, he tried a playful lunge at an amiable looking mutt who was also an onlooker. They strutted their stuff, as if to say, “We can do that too.” Then, having drawn the attention of the people around us, he settled down to watch, satisfied that he had done his bit to participate.
Summer brought a burst of growth in the woods, so Edna and I began taking clippers on our walk so we could cut away some of the brush. Max and Brandy were confused by this activity, but after a while we noticed that they were falling back and whiffling around in the debris. On closer inspection, we saw they were eating the salmonberries from the branches that had fallen on the trail. Quite enterprising, except that, as the summer wore on and the weather became hotter, they became lazy and expected us to pick the berries for them.
Sadly, those summer walks were marred by an invasion of bulldozers, razing sections of the forest for future development. Masses of birds and forest creatures evacuated their homes, circling and crying the oddest cries as their nests were destroyed. Edna and I were sad to see this, but the dogs shared none of our sorrow. They were hot on the scent of all the animals that had scurried off in terror. What a time we had, keeping them from running off into the bush. Brandy was generally obedient when told to stay, but Max could not resist the temptation. At one point, he actually came nose to nose with a rabbit. The poor creature froze in fear, and for a moment I thought it was about to become rabbit stew. But then, to our amazement, Max froze as well. He simply didn’t know what to do with it. He stared back at the cornered bunny as if willing it to make the next move. Then, when it gathered its wits and ran, he tore off after it, darting back to check that we were waiting for him, then racing off again. No killer instinct in this dog. The chase was everything to him and he considered the other critters were there to play with him. Max might be naughty, but he wasn’t mean. He wasn’t called a Ho Hum Husky for nothing.