I won’t lie. For all of my cuddling and loving words about Maxwell the dog, he has been a challenge for most of his life. An 80 pound Rottweiler tied up in a 10 pound furry bag may sound funny, but in reality he’s been somewhat difficult from time to time.
Shortly after our move to our new home we enrolled him in obedience school and we were able to get him to sit, stay, lie down and respond to many verbal commands in a way that made us hopeful.
I tell this story to everyone I know because…well, because it’s funny, but it’s also a microcosm of what living with Max was like.
One afternoon I was home early from work, and UPS arrived, and as always, Max went completely and totally bonkers. For reasons we’ve never been able to ascertain, Maxwell absolutely hated UPS. He seemed to be able to smell their damn trucks and if one of them stopped at our house, heaven help them.
So anyway, he jumps on his chair and puts his paws on the window, yapping and screaming and yelling at the UPS driver… to the point where his paws went through the screen window and he tumbled out onto the front lawn.
Now, you’d think that might give a little dog some pause. It was only a few feet drop, but still. Normal dogs would take a moment to reflect on the decision they’re making, and just maybe consider another course of action.
The minute Max hit the grass, the took off running. After the UPS truck. It becomes crystal clear what I have to do, and I chase after him, in my socks, down the dirt road, screaming his name as the little white jerk tears down the cloud of dust being blown behind the big brown truck.
Eventually Max realized he wasn’t going to catch the stupid thing and sat in the road barking his little brains out while I scooped him up and hauled him away. I still remember him looking at my face when he realized I was there and giving me the dumbest grin… “did you see me scare away the nasty brown monster, daddy? Did you see that?!?”
That was the essence of Maxwell. Chaos wrapped in a loud, yapping package, mixed in with some truly mindless approval seeking, all within the span of five minutes.
I admit, it got old. It got very tough to deal with. We couldn’t take him for a walk because he would pull and tug and choke himself, even with a lambskin guide around his shoulders. We couldn’t leave him alone in the house uncrated because he would tear things apart, and at one point he actually figured out how to open the pantry, get inside, and eat half a can of cashews (which he then proceeded to vomit all over the kitchen floor, mixed with other scattered trash that he’d strewn).
Even though he was crate trained, he would scream and cry and thrash around in his crate when we left, and in some cases even figured out how to unlatch the thing and escape.
We’d call him Houdini.
Even through all this, at the end of every day, he’d be there at the foot of our bed, stupid, appealing grin on his face, content and ready to join his family in sleep.