* This is the storytelling piece I workshopped and performed for Writing Pad.
I met Max while working in an animal shelter in May 2012. He was white, curly, and matted with black beady eyes. That’s what attracted me to him. Unlike the other creatures that barked and came quickly to the cage, he was at the back hiding from the world. During my breaks from window washing and mopping, I passed by his cage to see if he would walk up and greet me. He rarely did except for one time he tried, but the other canines barked him into submission.
My parents didn’t want a another dog, they had already had one, a white pekepoo named Gustavo. Gustavo wasn’t my favorite. He barked excessively at anything and everything, pawed and jumped for attention like his life depended on it, and got away with pooing and peeing in the house through his deceptive black, Teddy bear eyes. Meh, I wanted a dog that was the opposite of the chaos I’ve dealt with since his arrival.
I convinced my mom to visit Max by showing her his picture. “He’s so preeety,” she said. He was small, white, and cute. All the preferences she wanted in a dog. I told her “Let’s look at him, we don’t have to take him,” so that she didn’t feel pressured to adopt.
We arrived at the shelter and I dragged my mom by the hand to show her the cage where Max stayed.He wasn’t there. Where is he? I called the shelter yesterday and they said that he was available. I ran to the information desk and asked an animal control officer where he went. Fortunately, she told me that he was getting neutered and soon would be out.
Another animal control officer carried a balless Max, and gave him to me. I hugged and kissed him. My mom looked at me, “Do you want to adopt him?” I nodded.
Max, my first shelter dog, I’ve never had one before. All the other dogs my parents and I had were given to us. Max was special, I rescued him. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.
Max is the most loyal dog I’ve ever had. The first day my mom and I brought him to the house, he growled at Gustavo because he thought Gustavo was attacking me. Actually, I annoyed Gustavo by blowing air into his face, and he went into a frenzy by pawing mine. Max jumped from where he was sitting on the sofa and defended my honor by growling at his new older brother.
Max is the smartest dog I’ve had. He quickly picked up basic commands and tricks when I enrolled him to obedience school. One of my favorite activities I played with him was hide and seek. The trainer took him to a random aisle in the store, and I hid in a different aisle. I called his name, Maaaax! Maaaxxxx! and he ran with all his hairy glory and found me. He can also find his way back to the house when I walk him off leash even when I’m not going there.
Despite all the wonderful times, there were stinky times with Max, and I literally mean stinky.
When my mom and I took Max home from the shelter, he smelled “teer-ri-ble” according to my mom. In addition, it was hard to get him into the car because he scratched my face and wiggled. As I was driving, he chewed through the purple leash my mom bought him.
The first night, he escaped from his spot that was designated next to the laundry room and crapped on the marble kitchen floor. My mom was amazed because he figured out how to open the barricade she made with a baby gate, chairs, and an ottoman. She called him Houdini. My dad threw a fit. He pointed and yelled, “Look at what your dog did! Son of a bitch!” I gathered paper towels, sprays, and plastic bags and cleaned the mess.
Max is a different dog from Gustavo, but he’s the different I didn’t expect. He chows down food faster than he can digest, so he vomits, or has diarrhea, or does both in places that are most inconvenient such as behind the television. He catches invisible flies by biting the air, which makes me wonder if he’s a frog. He makes squeaky noises when he breathes or turns his head, which makes me think he’s a rodent.
Despite all the quirks, I love him. I love him because I walk him off leash and he walks besides me and checks to see what I’m doing. I love him because when I’m sick or just napping, he sleeps next to me. I love him because when I arrive, he jumps and barks with joy. I love my little Maxie because he’s my special little boy.