Once we’d decided to create a Max puppet, the possibilities seemed endless. Max was to replace the poodle in the Christmas show, but I soon realized that I could build a series of shows around his various tricks. And since Hugh was clever enough to make a Max puppet, I naturally asked him to create a Brandy puppet too. Max couldn’t be a star without his leading lady.
The song itself took shape quickly. It was a cute story song about Max, the reluctant sled-dog who was put to work on Christmas Eve when a little girl fell ill and needed urgent medical care. It took a challenge from Santa to get the Ho Hum Husky moving, but once he was racing Santa’s sleigh, he delivered the doctor to the child’s bedside in record time. Once I’d finished the song, I read the lyrics to the girls as a bedtime story. Caroline pronounced it good, but geeky; but as she declared “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer” geeky too, Max’s song passed the test. The chorus proved so catchy that soon everyone was singing it. Katie grumbled that she couldn’t get away from the song because even her friends would break into ‘ho hums’ in the midst of their games.
Max enjoyed having the children home over the school holidays. Edna’s grandsons joined us for walks too. Max liked the boys, being such a boy-boy himself, and all the young males had lots of fun playing on the trails. Two days before Christmas, Max came home from our walk with a Christmas gift from Brandy. He was most intrigued by this, and very eager to have his present. His nose told him that it was something he’d like to eat. On Christmas Eve, he, in turn, took a present round for Brandy, though he was reluctant to part with it and looked very cross when I gave it to Edna and made him come home. His nose remained out of joint for the rest of the day, and he demonstrated his rebellious mood by trying to steal a visitor’s hat.
Since Max was starting to ferret for loot and abscond with things he was not supposed to have, Hugh built a new garden gate to block the back parking lot. Max enjoyed being outside with Daddy and watching the project take shape, but he was not thrilled once he realized his freedom had been curtailed. Indoors, we had to be careful too, and we made sure that his Christmas presents were kept well out of reach. The problem we didn’t anticipate was the Christmas tree itself. We knew Max liked berries, for he’d often pick salmon-berries to eat in the woods, but it never occurred to us that he’d mistake a red Christmas-tree bulb for a berry. Still, that’s what he did. He crunched down a Christmas tree light bulb! We called Dr. Zinger, who told us to give Max hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up. However, Max kept two doses down and licked his lips as if he thought the medicine quite tasty. He slurped down some more spoonfuls, but still didn’t bring up the glass. Finally, I gave up and dispensed half a loaf of bread to coat it.
That night, we were to go to the William Tell for our anniversary dinner. My mother had come over to stay with the girls, but we set off with trepidation, not knowing if there would be problems with Max. I supposed concern about the dog dominated our evening, so we ended up talking pets with Mr. Dobeli, and heard all about his dominant and rather misbehaved dog named Willy. Fortunately, dinner wasn’t marred by any emergency calls, and when we arrived home, naughty Max greeted us happily. He appeared to have digested his light bulb and was feeling in fine fettle, having been fussed over by my mother all evening. So I stopped worrying and wrote the incident into the Christmas show.
“How’s your tummy, Max. You look a bit peaky.”
“I can’t look Pekey. I’m a husky.”
Max’s first Christmas Day was great fun. The girls were up early to open their stockings, and Max, stirred into action by the activity, was very funny with his. He couldn’t figure out what was going on, but was most interested as assorted treats came out of his stocking. He proceeded to ‘bury’ them all over the bedroom, in the process wearing the skin off his nose. Later, he was equally interested in the present opening, particularly when he saw that Brandy’s present was a bag of the peanuts that he regularly stole from the squirrels. While we ripped wrapping paper off our presents, he worked his way through the peanuts, then sat down with his new chew toy and bared his teeth at anyone who went near it. A little lacking in the Christmas spirit, but then, what could you expect from a dog that ate light bulbs.