Updates for MAXWELL,

the ATRA dog from AR...

All text, photos Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007 Steven J. and Melinda M. Richardson. No text or photos may be used, downloaded, or reproduced, etc., without the express, written permission of the copyright holders. We're serious about this, as these are our private photos of our family. Please respect this.
The Trip

Melinda and I decided to see if a dog named "Maxwell"--listed in AR--would be the right fit for our little dog family. We'd tried to meet a female in OH (with a quick, obviously-negative reaction), and had fostered a wonderful, sweet female who wanted to vie for top-dog position with our own Rosie. Let's just say that this wonderful girl is now in her own forever home, and the absence of her little bit of irritation was noticeable.

So we were going to try for Maxwell, because his own description reminded us quite a bit of our own Teddy, with whom we've had wonderful success and very loving times. Chris Bettis, the AR State Co-ordinator for ATRA, in consultation with Gina Hudson--a wonderful behaviorist who worked with Max for months--said that we were the family of choice for Max. We were elated, and we planned a trip the following week.

We left on a Thursday morning in a Chrysler Town and Country minivan with the Stow'n'Go seating--with these seats all stowed, so that a crate, some luggage, and ample floor room for doggie pillows was available. Friday noon, we met with Gina and Chris at the La Quinta in NW Little Rock where we would be staying. This is Gina with Max, at our first meeting in that parking lot. We also petted him while he sat in the back of Chris' great dog-carrying vehicle.

We then went to a well-fenced public dog park, and we had the only three dogs there. Max and Teddy and Rosie all had fun playing, and Max let us approach him, and performed other feats of great bravery. We spent a lot of time talking with Gina and Chris, and they with us, and watching the dogs get muddy and drink the puddle water...!

Max slept on the floor, along with our two Airedales, and we had a wonderful night. In the morning, Max even curled up against Melinda, and I came over and he gave me licks/kisses! Later in the morning, Chris met us and we walked all of the dogs and talked more about Max; then Chris tried to get Rosie in line, so that I could a group picture, and then I took another with Chris smiling... ;-) (Chris is on the left with Rosie; Melinda has Max in the middle and Teddy on the right.)

That night, we slept SE of Louisville in a great pet-friendly place called Baymont (which I think is a sister chain of La Quinta). As you can see, Melinda slept quite well; this is actually in the AM, with Rosie and Max up on the bed and Teddy in between the two beds.

When we got home, we trimmed Max, who really needed a good clipping. We have pictures of hairy Max ("before"): side view and above and from behind. And after his trim, the "new and improved" Maxwell: mostly frontal view and view of left side. The next day (20 Nov. 2006), we got this picture of Teddy, Rosie, & Max (in that order; Teddy has a black collar with a red edge and a red lead, Rosie's collar and lead are purple, and Maxwell's collar and lead are blue).


Well, we got back on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which we were to host for six other guests (Steve's parents, Melinda's mother & grandmother, and one of Steve's aunts & her son). The large turkey had been taken out of the freezer and placed in the refridgerator just before we'd left, and we had all of the pre-holiday tidying, cleaning, food preparation, etc., to be done. Some had been done before we left; in fact, Maxwell arrived to a family room in upheaval due to carpet having been cleaned just before we left, so the furniture was all out-of-place, and various things had been moved, so he didn't see the house in its typical configuration.

Max was not as ready to enter the kitchen, then, as Teddy & Rosie, who just can't be kept out if the proper packaging rustles, the refridgerator is opened, or some wonderful smell begins to exude from something cooking, etc. He was unsure of us, with his head often down when we looked at him from nearby, or up and semi-inquisitive when we were farther away. The weather was actually nice for this time of year in Michigan, so he wasn't having to deal with snow...YET, and he was able to run and play outside with his new canine adoptive siblings, who loved running and chasing and roughhouseing and tussling and wrestling and barking with Max.

Of course, we didn't know if we were actually bringing back a dog from AR (though we thought we probably would), so we had not told anyone that we took our trip to AR and back, and we never mentioned Maxwell to any of the guests until that day. They all arrived withing a few minutes of each other, came in together, and Melinda's mother immediately was asking about "three dogs" and why there was a third one and how long were we keeping him...? We got her to hush for a moment, and I was able to capture the look on my father's face as he realized that there was a third dog.

At first, my father said to another guest, "shouldn't someone have their head examined?" However, after everyone read the old description of Max from the Aire-Mail newsletter, they were very sympathetic, understood our decision, and were very concerned about being nice to Max. My father was one of the first to try to curry Max's favor, trying to pet him, be close to him (inside and out), etc.; Max was a little leery.

Most of the time, Max was able to keep his distance in the family room (maximal horizontal distance on the first floor from where we were; it also allowed him to keep us in sight in case anything interesting or threatening started happening, too. Later, Melinda brought him into the dining room; Max was not particularly keen about this, though he endured some attention. He retreated to the adjoining living room, and lay there with Teddy & Rosie for some time, which was a huge step, as far as we were concerned. Later, he came back into the dining room and sat with his back to the table, facing into the kitchen--where Melinda was--but allowed Melinda's grandmother to pet him as she sat at the table.

Overall, he did really well at this strange event in a strange, new place with all manner of strange, new people around him. Max put up with this without a lot of panting, though he did have a lot of moments when the stress was just too much and so he had to flee to a comfortable spot; we were glad that this was his now-normal spot in our family room.

Of course, Max was forced to submit to a not atypical indignity which many pets suffer during the holidays...at least he had Teddy and Rosie along with him, for this particular ride. Note that Max is a rather reluctant reindeer; Rosie may be reluctant, but the hat fits her mood and character quite well!

That Friday

You might think that that would be the end of the excitement for a while. However, Melinda's mother had had an event occur in her home which required some assitance, and so "all my fur-children" ;-) traipsed over to her house on Friday. The handle to her front door had broken off in her hand (from the inside), a long spring had popped out, flying across the room, and the key was useless to unlock the broken lock. Steve had quickly replaced the lock itself with a new one on Wed. (yes, the evening before Thanksgiving; then he had to drive back to Ann Arbor, get the stuffing around, and get the turkey in the oven; without Melinda's breaking up of the stale bread, this would have occurred much later). On Friday, he added the matching keyed bolt to the door.

It's always interesting to go to this home, because Melinda's mother has a cockatiel which used to be "Melinda's bird"--and was sometimes nominally referred to as such--but which had really become her father's bird during the time when Melinda was living away from home while attending school. This bird, "Rupert" or "Rupie" for short, had been bestowed the name "Col. Rupert C. Grey" by Melinda when she was young enough to want to bestow such a large name on such a small bird...! [NOTE: She also had a miniature poodle who was commonly referred to as "Fluffy" but who had been named "El Fluffo Pierre Aronnax Linus Dunn"...it's really quite surprising that she was not used by race-horse breeders as a source for names. ;-) ] This bird is very musical, and had been taught many songs, song snippets, melodies, etc., and would often start to whistle one of these (his own, native call would sometimes pop out, but it generally required some bird-like sounds to Rupert to prompt him to do this rather than one of his normal selections). When Steve had walked in on Wednesday, wearing shorts, Rupert had done the wolf whistle, so he certainly is aware of and responds to what is going on around him.

He had gotten into the habit of "calling" the last dog which Melinda's maternal grandparents had owned, "Mikey"; he did this same call on Friday when the three Airedales were there. If he had known that he would have been an interesting snack for any of the three, he probably would not have done this...! He also squawked when he got annoyed at having all the activity in another room and he wanted his own attention.

We were lucky that this did not get Maxwell going; we were even more lucky that it didn't get Rosie going, since that would have aroused Teddy and Max would probalby have been dragged in regardless of his inclinations, at that point. The power tools didn't seem to the bother Max much, but he didn't go over and sniff of them, either; he was happy to be under Melinda's protection, safe and secure with her and Teddy & Rosie.

Rosie's Second Birthday

After a restful Friday, Max had to wade into the unknown again on Saturday, which was Rosie's second birthday (and her first with us!), though, this time, he only had to be ankle-deep...! Again, we had guests, but only Steve's parents came over on this occasion, so there was less in terms of "new people" and also less noise and commotion.

In fact, it was a very interesting time, because Max got some great doggie treats at various points; here is Rosie with some doggy "dessert" (apple) which she had recently "won" at her final beginning obedience class (see Janet Kossick at the Ann Arbor PetsMart; she's great!), which was shared--for about three-to-five seconds--with Max and Teddy. There were also some rawhide-wrapped treats, etc. Max loved these parts of the program, even though he probably didn't understand why a candle "2" was on the dessert and why we were singing. ;-) This is Max waiting patiently for some gastronomic gratification as payment for the indignity of wearing a party hat (in the upper right corner you can see the right front leg of Steve's 1899 Steinway B grand piano).

Here is Rosie, the birthday girl, and Teddy and Max enjoying a pig ear treat as part of the festivities. (Note how Teddy uses his paws to hold up whatever he chews on; it's really quite interesting and cute to watch.) This is Rosie, hat askew, looking at me as we prepare for them to come out and show off their festive head-based attire. ;-) Here they are all turned towards the camera, though Teddy seems to be a little skeptical regarding what's happening. (Hmmm...doesn't it look as though they are all doing poorly in school and have been given their "dunce" caps? ;-)

The Next Day (26 November)

Melinda was outside with the dogs and took a few pictures of Max; here he is, looking at the camera and being happy. And this is Max, out standing in his field...or out standing in the fenced-in portion of our back yard. Note the position of Max's tail, which is at a very happy, upright angle, not tucked under in fear. This is a major change, along with the lack of his panting, etc.; Max got over a lot of this sort of behavior pretty early-on, for the most part.

Sunday, 3 December

As Steve updates this, we have noticed that Max has gotten much better about coming in. (At first, he wouldn't come in very well at all. Then, he was OK to come in when he was not the last dog out. Steve started putting two leads, put together end-to-end, on Max so that he could be easily gotten if he got spooked about coming inside; Max actually seems calmer if he has a lead on, too.

Last Thursday morning, Max was again the last dog out, and wasn't coming in quickly, so Melinda was outside, trying to coax him closer to her, calm him, etc. Steve opened a window in the sunroom and whistled to him and called, "Come, Max!", and Max ran right in, to the great surprise of both, the delight of Steve, and the chagrine of Melinda...! Then he didn't want Melinda to wipe his paws off--a standard thing when we have wet weather of the rain or snow (or sleet or ...) variety--so Steve told Melinda to give him the towel, and Max stood quietly next to Steve while he wiped off Max's paws. This bowled both of us over. So now it seems that he's finally gotten over most of his wariness with respect to Steve, and most of what we see is that he is easily spooked by a movement which he doesn't like, easily startled by sounds which he doesn't understand, and very willing to jump up when we get home and he gets out of his crate.

On the more positive side, Max is quite willing to crawl up onto the bed (with some help; the bed is high and he doesn't seem to be used to jumping up onto or into much of anything; cf. Rosie, who immediately jumps up onto the spa cover, etc.!) or the couch; last night, he did the latter, getting between Steve and Melinda--something which Teddy didn't do for many months, preferring to be on the couch with only one person, and making sure that he was at the other end, as far away as possible--and then put his head down on Steve's thigh and dozed.

Max has quickly become warmer towards us both, and can be called to join our whole little group, and loves our petting, etc. Within the last week, he has allowed Steve to push him down on his side for chest-rubbing, rather than being convinced that this was the beginning of some attempt to torture him. He seems to have a little cold--he's stuffed up in the morning when he first gets up--but isn't low-energy, etc., so we've given him some chicken soup (OK, they all got some, but he got more of the broth than the others!) and kept an eye on him. He might be losing some of the last of his puppy black on his upper legs, and he's gotten better about eating our dog-food (though he still doesn't like to be observed eating; he always thinks that you want his food, and he's more than willing to back off and let anyone/anything else come over and claim it)...so we tend to stand with our back to him and make sure that Rosie (in particular) doesn't decide to unilaterally increase her food allowance...! ;-)

Other December Photos

You can see Teddy, Rosie, and Max with snow, waiting to get in, where Max is in the rear, left, looking at the camera. Also, here are three good dogs waiting for a treat, which is SOP whenever they come back in, after feet are wiped, etc. And here is Max outside, tail up, getting ready to chase Rosie or get into other mischief out in the snow.

We took some pics with "Santa" (a person who helps the local Humane Society); here's the best one. However, we took our own picture of our three wonderful dogs, for our Christmas card.


We've kept in touch with Chris Bettis and Gina Hudson, giving them updates from time-to-time. Max turned two in early February, and is looking great and doing really well (the vet always comments on how great the dogs look, how sweet they are, etc.). The "dog nobody would want" (this was a quote from someone who knew Maxwell) was already warm to us within a month, and now, in the third week of February, he has become even closer. Max seeks us out, especially when we are petting or hugging Teddy or Rosie. He follows us (and Rosie), and sometimes touches us with his paw when we stop petting, scratching, or rubbing him, to let us know to continue. He gets up on the couch in between us, wants to get up on the bed with us, and lays down against/upon us when he does these things. He is calm in his crate when we leave, excited when we come home, very interested in going outside and running around with Teddy and Rosie, or getting to go somewhere in the car. He barks at a neighbor dog, at "intruders" in the back yard (cats, rabbits, etc.) and lines up with the others for treats, snacks, and the main meal events. He's becoming less skittish about noises and sounds and movements, and is very trusting and loving. WE are glad that we took "the dog nobody would want," because he's been a GREAT addition to our family. Thanks to Chris and Gina for trusting us with this wonderful guy.