The long and the short of it.

My good friend, author Maria Matthews in sunny Ireland (hahaha) wrote a short story about Max and her dog of stature, Bob. I am taking the liberty of re-blogging here – see excerpt below. Check out Maria’s blog for the whole story and more tales of Bob and his partner in crime, Ellie.



A very short story featuring Bob and his friend Maxwell

It was looking like snow. This was a special event in Ireland.

Bob was sitting staring out the kitchen window. He suspected it might snow but more importantly the oven was humming along with the cook who was rolling out biscuits.

“Hmm, biscuits,” Bob thought and set off to tell Max who lived a short distance away.

Cold, wet weather never bothered him because his thick coat kept everything from touching his skin. The extra bonus was fleas usually died before they fought their way through his coat.

Bob arrived at Max’s door. “Where is Ellie?” Max was peering over Bob’s shoulder.

“Didn’t bring her she is on cookie guard duty.”

Max didn’t linger. His short legs worked hard to keep up with his taller stocky friend.

“What happens if we get lost in this snow,” Max asked Bob as…

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Max Attacked by Small Alligators!

Sorry to inflict upon you another tale about Max’s feet. This will be the last one as by now you must be incredibly bored.

From here on out, I might from time to time note any major improvements or problems but the seemingly endless blogging of paw problems ends here. For those interested, this post will provide a comprehensive update; for those whose tolerance to dog foot issues has already exceeded its sell-by date, leave now and save yourself.

You’ve been given fair warning.

Dad and Son socks

My sock, his sock.

This is not to say that the Maltese paw issues have resolved. Not at all; in fact, they have worsened but at least there appears to be light ahead.

For a couple of weeks we tried a plethora of home remedies to help heal Max but the results were unsatisfactory. We were somewhat timid in our experiments. Despite all of your great suggestions, we kept our ministrations mild because we were hung up on the principle of “primum non nocere”, meaning “first do no harm.”

Doubtless several of you more astute readers will have read that and immediately proclaimed, “Yuh huh, the Hippopotamus Oath”.


By the way, most everyone thinks that all medical students, as part of becoming doctors, are required to take the Hippocratic Oath which promises, among many other things, to “first, do no harm.”

That’s not entirely true.

While the quote is correctly attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, it isn’t a part of the Hippocratic Oath at all. It is actually from another of his works called “Of the Epidemics”. Furthermore, whilst some medical schools do require this oath of medical students, many others use a different oath and some use no oath at all.

But I digress.

After the consistent failure of our home remedies and much research, we identified a husband and wife team of Veterinarians who possess exceptional qualifications and skills in veterinarian medicine as practiced in both Western and Eastern disciplines. A blend, if you will, of scientific and holistic approaches encompassing everything from high tech diagnostic equipment to Reiki to doggie acupuncture and nutrition counseling. (Yeah, that loud noise was my credit card screaming in agony.)


Still counting on the Lottery to fund the Malt’s healthcare. Bought the AJF a super scratcher but all 30 picks were a failure.

The Malt’s exam took well over an hour. The news wasn’t good. First, we were advised that the prescription of strong steroids over almost two years had damaged Max’s immune system and led to a possible early case of Cushing’s disease.

Next, we found out that the previous treatment plans were doomed to failure because they not only did not address the underlying cause of his foot problem, they exacerbated the problem; namely a severe case of demodex mites enabled by a severely suppressed immune system.


Demodex canis magnified about a bazillion times. They kinda, sorta look like alligators. Alligators from outer space. (Not my photo. Duh)

Mites! Yes, the skin scrapings confirmed he’s got plenty of the little monsters. So let’s talk mites, shall we?

When first informed, I suggested to the Vet that, based on the extent of the infection, they must be Mighty Mites! There were no snorfs. As I got the hairy eyeball from the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF), the Vet said, “Have you any idea how many times I’ve heard that?” I took his question as rhetorical and shut up.

I learned we all have mites. Everybody’s got them in one form or another: man, woman, and dog although the AJF contends that Japanese mites are more polite, bow before biting, and say arigato when done. Max probably has a genetic pre-disposition to demodex mites and likely got his original complement of blood suckers from his mother while nursing. Thanks, Mom.

No butt

You’re probably thinking you didn’t need to know this choice piece of trivia. How’s that breakfast taste?  (Also not my photo. )

Demodex mites are not visible to the naked eye or, for that matter, an eye wearing a cute frock and Christian Laboutin heels. Under a microscope the mites look a bit like deformed alligators.

There about 65 varieties of demodex mites including two that like to hang out in human eyelashes. Max’s version is Demodex canis which is not contagious to other dogs and is not considered zoonotic; in other words, does not transfer from dog to human (whew!).

Mite Upclose

Mites crawling out of hair follicles. This is happening to all of you right now. Feeling the itch, friend? (Oh yeah, not my photo.)

Whilst all dogs have mites, this is normally not a problem because said pooches are protected from the effects of mite bites by their immune systems. However, when a puplet is immuno-compromised (like our hero) the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog become exorbitant, causing skin lesions, incredible itching, inflammation, hair loss and worse.

Bad Foot 1

Swollen and inflamed.

Take a gander at these photos of the FurButt’s feet and cringe.

Bad Foot 2

Shaved and plucked.

Together with the Vet, we’ve developed a very detailed treatment plan to help the Malt recover.

We have to wean him from the steroids that he took in the past to suppress itching caused by allergies. This will require a tapering of medication over the next three weeks.

Immediately, Max was put on a new anti-itch product called Cytopoint which is a monoclonal antibody injection that, being a biological, avoids the negative side effects of the steroid.

But wait! Like a late night infomercial, there’s more! Max also has been put on anti-fungals to reduce complications from a yeast infection that apparently came along as a BOGO – buy one, get one free disease package.

He also received a slew of other medicines for the systemic elimination of the mites themselves, various palliative products – shampoos and lotions – to alleviate discomfort and a schedule for when and how to apply these goodies.

Lazy Dog 2

He eased his suffering at The Lazy Dog restaurant where he had burger, the AJF quaffed Pinot Grigio and I sampled the seasonal beers. We all needed a drink after we got the Vet bill.

Max was delighted when the Vet’s better half – Mrs. Vet – recommended that he be fed home-cooked meals only, henceforth eschewing packaged kibble and products with high carbohydrate content. The Pupperoni allowed as he would be courageous and accept steak, burger, stew and other delights lovingly prepared by the AJF. Also, take out from the Lazy Dog.

Lazy Dog Menu

The Lazy Dog is a classy dog joint. Avoid the “3 Bs”.


The Vet thinks that the recovery plan may take months before the negative effects of the steroids are diminished and Max’s immune system is again strong enough to combat successfully the mites. Meanwhile, it will be meds and booties, socks at night, special grooming and feeding and lots of attention.

Sounds like the AJF will be busy. Hehe.

As for me, I’m planning Max’s next Halloween costume. Can you guess what it might be?

Between the legs

I tried to watch TV but couldn’t avoid the Malt’s accusatory stare.

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The saga of the paws has yet to resolve. It has become Max’s version of the Never Ending Story.


Come to think of it, Falcor from the Never Ending Story does look a bit like a Maltese. A Maltese that drinks too much.

The so-called new and improved treatment plan made little difference. Max’s feet are still inflamed and sensitive although somewhat less so than before.

We are losing confidence in Max’s veterinarian. That’s largely because we sense him shying away from possibly admitting that he just doesn’t know what the problem is.

keep-calm-and-i-don-t-know-38.pngAt our visit last week, after almost three weeks of different therapies focusing on bacterial infection as the likely culprit, the Vet proposed a time consuming and expensive new approach targeted at resolving a fungal infection. Say what?

If, at the outset, he wasn’t sure of the type of infection, shouldn’t there have been some skin test or scrapings or other diagnostics done before subjecting the Malt to bound feet, discomforts and all those antibiotics?

We are ignorant in these matters and it’s obviously presumptuous for us to make a judgment about the Vet’s competency. But the AJF is a mighty shrewd reader of people and her antenna (along with her hackles) have been raised.

Maybe it’s her long experience in grocery stores that lets her spot pure baloney at a glance. On the other hand, maybe it’s her long experience with me, but I digress.

Max Cone

Stinx is refusing to show his paws.

We elected to reject the fungus-among-us approach which would have mandated another 10 days of wrapped paws for the Fluffbutt. At this point we are going to focus on keeping his feet scrupulously clean, dry and protected whilst we secure a second opinion.

Have you guys had a similar experience with losing confidence in your pup’s Vet?

The first thing we did after returning from the Vet was give “Stinx” a bath. That’s what we started calling Max since his paw treatments have precluded us bathing him for some time.

See, when Maltese aren’t bathed regularly they start to smell like Fritos corn chips. Exactly like Fritos. That’s not bad provided you don’t have a ferocious case of the munchies.

After awhile, however, the Fritos fragrance starts to go rancid and Malts become smelly little doggos. Stinx had gotten to that point and beyond.

Shampoo 2

I’ve been known to drink wine that costs less per ounce than the Malt’s shampoo. A whole lot less. A whole, whole lot less.

Of course Stinx has his own special medicated shampoo. We get his shampoo through Amazon at about $2/ounce. It has chlorhexidine, climbazole, and phytophingosine whatever the hell those are.

Based on cost they are likely found on store shelves next to gold, frankincense and myrrh, whatever the hell that is.

On the other hand, my personal stand-by comes from WalMart at 23 cents/ounce. It has soap and some smell-good stuff. The label translates the selling features – “cleans and refreshes!” – into French so you know this is high quality product.

What you don’t know is just how tempted I’ve been to give Stinx a good scrub with a little Irish Spring.

Faith and begorrah, pup. shamrock-5

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Defeat by Da Feet

At our last exciting episode, Max’s extremities were snugly bandaged in purple socks in the hope and expectation that his inflamed feet would quickly heal.

Well, the treatment did not work.Failure

We took him to the Vet’s office where his paws were carefully unwrapped as we stood by like little kids at a birthday celebration, waiting to see what was inside. Instead of four fresh pink paws, we encountered a quartet of red meaty appendages that were painful to look at and no doubt more painful to own.

The Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) was horrified and I could sense her internal volcano preparing to erupt like Pu’u O’o on a hot August night in Hawaii.

Imagine four tiny filet mignons with claws stuck to the ends of white, hairy sticks. No, forget that image. I took some photos but I’ll spare you the gruesomeness.

I must admit I wasn’t 100% surprised because I had been husbanding some doubts about the wisdom of wrapping his paws so thoroughly that fresh air was excluded. I’m a big fan of the sterilizing capabilities of sunshine and good air circulation.

Think Small

We expected days like this. But not everyday.

We talked Max’s case over with the Vet as my wallet started an anticipatory scream. A new plan was hatched that included new medicines, stronger antibiotics, and a more intensive paw-cleaning and maintenance regimen for the next ten days.

We elected not to re-bundle the Malt’s feet like before since that would be, well, stupid.

Instead, the AJF and I decided to put thin cotton socks on him when he was in the house and to overlay the socks with some kind of waterproof cover when he went outside.

So off we trundled to Target’s Infant and Toddler department where we secured some little white socks, for kids aged 6 months or Maltese aged 10 years. These we planned to secure to the Beast with surgical tape. As for the plastic covers for his treks into the backyard, four Glad sandwich bags and rubber bands sounded like the right apparatus.


“Looking good, Max!”………”Feeling good, Dad!”

The new paw regimen takes about 15 minutes to transact and it must be done every 12 hours. First, we clean his feet, then wash with chlorhexadine, dry with a hair dryer paying special attention between the toes, apply the antibacterial ointment, and finally cover with socks and secure. Then we give Max his oral medicine and, of course, a dog cookie if he is a good boy and he’s always a good boy.

We soon learned that Max hate socks. He became adept at removing the front pair very quickly even when well taped. The back pair was not a problem because dogs’ crooked  hind legs provide a convenient place to anchor the socks. What to do?


Max’s new, integrated sock-shirt outfit.

The creative AJF conjured the solution by sewing a pair of socks to the arms of Max’s football jersey thus creating a sort of dog “onesie”. Maybe just a halfsie since his back end was still open to the breeze.

Football shirt

Officially licensed product. The shirt, not the dog, although he has an official Rancho Cucamonga dog license.

Now, we haven’t decided if the Rams are our team of choice this football season or not – we have another option in the new LA Chargers – but as long as the shirt keeps Max’s socks on, we’ll happily advertise the Rams.

Flat out on floor

Here we see the exhausted Malt with freshly medicated paws in Target baby socks.

That left us with the Vet’s ever-mounting bill. Well, the AJF had a plan for that, too. She bought a lottery ticket for each of us. We have high hopes that one of our tickets will win tonight’s $370 million Powerball drawing!


Max’s very own Powerball ticket. If it wins, it automatically becomes my ticket.

Of course, the odds are a bit long at 1 in 292,201,338 but, hey, if you don’t play you can’t win.

If Max wins, you can expect to see a photo of him in diamond encrusted booties. Or maybe that will be me. Either way, we’ll know the Powerball results tonight and the next assessment at the Vet is in ten days.



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Booty Failure

You’ll remember Max had a paw problem that required medications and wearing booties for a week.

Some have inquired how the Fluff’s feet have been doing.

I believe “abject failure” best describes the outcome of the booty experiment.

So, Max had to return to the Vet today; his paws were worse than ever.

Max w bandages 2

Not happy.

The latest attempt at a cure to the mystery paw problem involves cutting the hair out between his foot pads, shaving the paws, applying medicine and then bandaging all four of them.

The Malt is not pleased even though they gave him some jaunty lavender socks to wear over his bandages.

He must wear the bandages for five days and then we’ll reassess progress.

The Pupper has already perfected his portrayal of a canine martyr. The AJF is buying into his performance and is cooing over him and supplying all sorts of goodies and lovies.

He knows better than to try that on me.

Max w bandages 1.jpg

Look at that face. You know he will be scamming the AJF to maximize the treats.

Having paid the Vet bill, I am looking into “gofundme” options and personal defibrillators.

On the upside, the Vet has now promised to name her first born after me in gratitude.

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Max Visits the Southwest (Part 3)


Our short stay in Durango was fun but we were looking forward to visiting the high country. We made an early start thus validating all those stereotypes you hear about old people on holiday. But we actually used the turn signals on our car.

Starting at just over 6,700 feet elevation, our first stop was at the historic mining and brothel town of Silverton at a more rarefied 9,318 ft (2,836 m) . Mining and, uh,  brotheling were inextricably linked in the Old West and both were enormously profitable in Silverton in the 1800s.

Silverton Mt View

Descending into Silverton from Durango along HIghway 550.

Today, Silverton is another high mountain tourist town chock-a-block with restaurants, bars, off-road vehicle rentals and gift shops. But there is a lot of history still to be found there in the many restored buildings, at the City’s museum and in the nearby hills.

Silverton Main St

In these parts, a Jeep is considered de rigueur.

From Silverton, Highway 550 rises abruptly and magnificently,  topping out after 8% grades at 11,018 ft (3,358 m) at Red Mountain Pass before descending into the self-proclaimed “Switzerland of America,” Ouray Colorado, population 1,100 full-time residents and a half-bazillion summer visitors.


A typical section of Highway 550 as one approaches Ouray.

The ride on Highway 550 is always fun. It is nicknamed the “Million Dollar Highway” and is listed among America’s most dangerous roads although to me that seems a great overstatement.

About that name… Ouray. No, it has nothing at all to do with the service calls of the various branches of America’s military forces. But since we are on that topic, more or less, let’s review those service calls.

Now, let me hear you shout them out, maggot. I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

drill sergeant

Show me your war face.

Army: “Hooah.”

Marines:  “Oorah.”

Navy SEALS: “Hooyah.”

Air Force: “Huah.”

That was fun. Anyway, Ouray is actually named after a famous Ute Indian chief and his name means “arrow”. He was quite the remarkable man and you can delve a bit into his story here.

Ouray was our first stop on our tour of the San Juan Skyway, a 236 mile route through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. This is what we came to Colorado to enjoy!

Although tiny, Ouray likes to speak of itself in superlatives. The village is set at the narrow head of a valley at 7,792 feet (2,375 m) and surrounded on three sides with 13,000 foot (3,963 m) snow capped peaks.


Glorious in all 4 seasons.

Aside from its self-promotion as a domestic Switzerland (i.e., without the grumpy banksters snuffling in their raclette), Ouray is acknowledged as the winter ice-climbing capital of the U.S. and home of the world’s first ice climbing park.

It once claimed the second largest gold mine in Colorado and still attracts many to amateur prospecting in the steep terrain around its five hot springs.

Mining is no longer a big part of Ouray’s economy which is now nearly 100% dependent on tourism. Summer activities in Ouray center on mountain biking, hiking, exploring the nearby waterfalls and off-roading in four-wheel drive vehicles into the San Juan Mountains.



Ouray Main Street. Note brewery on right. I like this town

We stopped in Ouray for lunch but spent little time there because the weather turned foul shortly after our arrival. We dined on an outdoor patio to accommodate His Royal Furriness and ended up huddled under the market umbrella trying to hold down our Cobb salads and the dog stroller as the wind, and dog, began to howl.

It was getting late, so we moved nine miles up the road to Ridgway, a town best known as the site for the old John Wayne movie “True Grit”. Actually, a number of western movies have been made there; the scenery is perfect for that kind of flick. In other celebrity news: Ralph Lauren owns a 17,000 acre ranch – “The Double RL” – in a jaw-dropping beautiful area just outside the tiny downtown.

Ridgway Park with Dog

Playing in the park at Ridgway. There were many art pieces and statues but Max particularly liked this one.

The following day our goal was Telluride, population 2,325. Telluride is a former silver mining camp founded in 1878. Strangely, the town was named for a type of mineral that was never mined there. Telluride sits in a box canyon surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs with Bridal Veil Falls at the head of the canyon.

3 of us Road to Telluride 3

The 3 Musketeers en route to Telluride.

Telluride is the archetype of Colorado’s schizophrenic high mountain tourist towns. On the one hand it is synonymous in pop culture with the lifestyles of the rich and famous and, indeed,  there is wealth that Midas would envy. Real estate ads by the dozens tout homes tagged at $4 – $20 million dollars and more. Movie stars fly into Telluride airport on their private jets and dinner can cost you an arm, leg or gonad.

On the other hand, the town has plenty of hard-core mountain adventurers and superb athletes who care only about the climb, the schuss, the ice canyons and little about cash. These folk happily co-exist with everyday working class, tourists galore and a fair number of characters who ought to be named Smelly McFuzzynuts for reasons left to your imagination. But I digress.

Stir all these together and you get Telluride where the people-watching is exquisite fun and your wallet takes a beating – we paid $17 for two hot dogs with chips and a Coke.

Hot Dog Telluride

Not kidding about the $17 tube steaks. Here’s photographic proof of our elegant repast in Telluride. Bought from a street cart, no less!

One thing for certain: Telluride is staggeringly beautiful in any season and paradise for those who like outdoor mountain activities.

Anecdote: Years back, the AJF darn near divorced me after I took her in my truck up one of the more difficult off-road trails. It was her first experience with negotiating gravel mining tracks and switchbacks only 15 inches or so wider than the truck’s wheelbase with sheer drop offs on one side. Once on the path there is no turning back so she had to endure a couple hours of what she deemed to be sequential near-death experiences.

Imogene Pass.jpg

The “road” that almost got me booted. Not my photo, but the same road and my truck was a larger vehicle.

Arriving safely back at town, she told me if I ever tried anything like that again (with her in the truck) she would walk out and never be seen again. She meant it.

Anyway, after spending time rolling Max around Telluride, we went sightseeing across Lizard Head Pass and around Trout Lake and ultimately ended up back at our lodge.

Trout Lake

Trout Lake near Lizard Head Pass. Nice now, but winters are brutal.

Our time was running out and we knew we had to leave Colorado and head home. Because of other commitments, our return journey was all about covering distance and nothing about sightseeing.

On one day we drove to Cedar City Utah and the next, all the way home. We chalked up the ferocious return trip and resultant monkey butt as the price we had to pay to enjoy the rest of the trip. It was worth it.

Durango Max on Grass.jpg

That was fun! Let’s go on another road trip! 

And that, fellow travelers, is the story of Max’s visit to the Southwest.





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Max Visits the Southwest (Part 2)


After visiting Zion National Park and catching up on the happenings in our former home near St. George, Utah we packed up and headed out for Durango, Colorado.

This was the longest single drive of our road trip: a 414 mile run that took almost seven hours, even with my over-sized right foot heavy on the accelerator of the Mighty Mazda.


This was test of butt endurance: mine, hers and his.

There are many interesting places between St. George and Durango. Canyons, amazing landscapes, historical sites, polygamist towns and Native American places of interest.

Years ago we traveled extensively through this area but this is a tough and unforgiving region with flinty soils, no water, no grass and very high temperatures – wholly unsuitable for a pampered pooch.

After an early departure, we stopped at Lake Powell for a quick picnic lunch, a pee stop for you-know-who (and Max, too). Then, we crossed the Glen Canyon Dam and transited the harsh, seemingly endless Navajo lands of northern Arizona.

This was the monsoon season and late afternoon brought enormous cumulus clouds forming over the desert to heights above 50,000 feet, darkening ominously and then erupting in jagged lightning strikes and furious rain drops the size of small eggs.


Late afternoon monsoon thunderstorm in the Navajo Nation. Look, there’s a DeLorean with a 1.21 gigawatts flux capacitor at the end of the lightning bolt!

The AJF  expressed her appreciation of Nature’s glory with a Japanese accent: “Horry Shit!” I covered Max’s tender ears.

We pulled into Durango about 4:30 and quickly located our humble lodgings. As you can see, the poor Malt was again abused by being forced into accommodations below his usual standard.

St George Hotel

Why are the Malt’s eyes glowing? He was thrilled to get out of the car.

After such a punishing trip, clearly the driver deserved a nice back rub and fine dining, but neither appeared forthcoming from the other  two cold-hearted travelers. Sigh. So we opted for take out pizza and beer.

Next day, we played tourist around the city of Durango.

Durango Max Cutout 2

There is no limit to what we will do to embarrass the dog.

The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Company formed Durango along the banks of the Animas River in September 1880 to serve miners in Colorado’s San Juan mountains. The word “Durango” originates from the Basque word “Urango” meaning “water town” or “well watered place,” an important element for operating the smelters to pull precious metals out of the ore. The town is a sister city to two other towns of the same name, one in Mexico and one in Spain.

Durango Town

Durango Colorado, southern gateway to the San Juan mountains.

Native Americans had camped along the Animas River for thousands of years. Archaeologists have found evidence that this area experienced a population boom in the latter part of the 8th century. Some think more people lived in Durango then than now. Spanish explorers traipsed about this area in the mid-1700s.

Mining was a big deal in Durango until about 1900 when tourism eclipsed it as the major revenue source. There are about 18,000 full-time residents now. As the prime tourism center in southwest Colorado, the town has all the usual amenities plus a lot of charm, history and micro-breweries. That last one is important.

Durango Cowboy Statue

Two cowboys, two dogs. Guess which two live near LA.

For lunch we went north about 10 miles to the James Ranch. The Ranch describes its offerings as follows:

We offer 100% grass fed and finished beef, whey-fed pork, artisan cheese and raw milk from 100% grass-fed, grazing Jersey cows, eggs produced from pastured hens, a spruce tree nursery, an organic vegetable and flower garden, and a thriving grill and market.

So basically, your common or garden variety of LA eatery but with cows. I felt healthier just reading the menu. I will admit that they make a mean burger with all that natural and organic stuff.

Durango Harvet Grille.jpg

The Harvest Grille at James Ranch. Why they use the extra “l” and “e” is not clear. They also have a small Food Shoppe, er, market.

Max loved the Ranch because it offers large, grassy areas where dogs are welcome. He got to meet some goats, chickens and other critters, gobble some beef and roll around in the meadows.


Durango TM and Max at James farm

After lunch we explored the James Ranch and apologized to the cows for eating their family members.

After lunch it was off for more sightseeing to the surrounding lakes and villages and then back to Durango for aperitifs and, later, a continuation of our carnivorous behavior with a big feed at a restaurant called “Serious Texas BBQ.”

It wasn’t long before our eyes started drooping and we hit the hay as they say in these cowboy towns.

Durango Max on Picnic Table

The well-fed Malt had a hard time staying awake.

Our next destination was the high country of southwest Colorado.

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Max Visits the Southwest (Part 1)


Road trip! The plan was to re-visit some our favorite places in the Southwest. With side trips and sightseeing, we figured it would take a week and some 2,000 miles to cover the route from Rancho Cucamonga to the San Juan mountains of Colorado and back, including stops at Zion National Park, Durango, Telluride, Grand Junction and elsewhere.


Actual miles driven were just over 2,200. The Malt has callouses on his furry little dog butt. So did the AJF but it would be indelicate of me to mention that.

The road trip got off to an inauspicious start. A few days before we left, Max developed a strange affliction on his paws. They became red, swollen and obviously painful; he started to limp.

A visit to the Vet produced inconclusive results. There were no obvious signs of trauma or disease. No fungus among us and his claws were in good shape. The Vet attributed the paw problem to Max’s never-ending series of allergic reactions to nearly everything including oxygen, blue skies and sunlight.

Never one to miss a billing opportunity, she prescribed some paw ointment, some antibiotics (just in case), and apparently just for the hell of it, a new ear wash. Then came strict instructions to procure doggie booties and make Max wear them indoors and out for a week to try and isolate his feet from whatever allergens were causing the problem.


A despondent dog. He’s not shaking his booties.

As we drove away $200 lighter, I swore I heard the Vet call her husband and merrily tell him to get a sitter, they were going out for steaks that night.

The doggie booties plan did not amuse the Malt. The medicines he could tolerate; however, the booties were anathema, an insult to Maltese pride, beyond the pale. His spirit was crushed to the point that only several extra cookies could elevate him from a deep depression.

From the start, we were doubtful about the booties but bought them anyway, Max’s contribution to making Jeff Bezos the richest man on Earth, at least for a little while.

He (Max, not Jeff) wore the booties for about three days after which we all agreed that this particular experiment needed to end. Finally, we were ready for departure!

From the Rancho, we first drove to Southern Utah to visit one of our favorite spots: Zion National Park.  The mostly boring drive is a 6 hour jaunt across the Mojave Desert, through Las Vegas and along the Virgin River canyon.


Recent rains caused the Virgin River to be muddy. We didn’t want a brown Malt so no dog swims were permitted.

As some may remember from earlier posts, we used to live nearby and Max’s roots are in Utah. We acquired him when he was 8 weeks old from a very nice Mormon family, after spotting his picture on a community bulletin board at a supermarket in St. George.

They had named him “Dash” which may have been appropriate then, but not now. At 10+ years, Max doesn’t dash about like he used to.

I’ve heard that getting older can be tough, although I have no personal experience.

Zion Max and Watchman

With this perspective, he looks like the Godzilla version of a Maltese. The dog that ate Zion Park.

Whiles he moves a bit more leisurely, Max has gotten smarter with age and has learned to scam the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) into spending significant sums to make his life easier.

For example, he now has his own ride which looks suspiciously like a baby stroller but, according to Amazon Prime, is actually a bonafide dog carrier suitable for such a manly Maltese.


Zion Max in Carrier

This is how he rolls. Don’t judge.

As a puppy, he refused to walk over bridges because there were gaps in the footpath and he could see the river below. When we dragged him on to a bridge, he hunkered down and did a Groucho Marx-like squat walk to the other side, his belly never more than 2 inches off the surface. These days he either rides in his carriage or simply waits for his DogMom to carry him across the span.

Zion MC on bridge 2.jpg

The AJF and Max demonstrating the Malt-approved method of crossing bridges.

Of course there were picnics and hikes on the Pah’Rus trail which runs along the valley floor. Some of the hikes actually involved having paws on the ground!

Zion Picnic 3

Zion Pa'Rus 2

Note the enormous tongue. The one on the dog. It was a bit toasty.

And yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I am also to blame for spoiling the gentle little white dog.

Zion Tom and Max on Ra'Rus

Guilty for aiding and abetting the Malt.

Most of the folks we encountered smiled to see Max riding on the trail but some seemed aghast that we would treat a dog better than they treated their own children. When we spotted that reaction, we leaned over to the little kids and whispered that their parents must not love them very much. Just spreading the sunshine.

On the positive side, by bundling Max in a stroller, the AJF and I were able to cover a lot more territory and walked for hours. Without said conveyance, she and I would have had sore necks from looking behind us as a certain pupperoni was dogging it along.


Trudging Behind

“Slow down. My legs are shorter.”



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Unfortunate Names

Max’s adventures in California have exposed the poor pup to some businesses and products whose names are, well, unusual.


I suppose Coldcock Whiskey should be acknowledged for its truth in advertising. For those not familiar with the idiom, to “coldcock” someone means to sneak up and knock them out with a single punch. Perhaps these recipes would do the trick:

CC recipes

One shouldn’t partake on an empty stomach so perhaps some tasty cakes, pies or tarts would be nice.

Crusty T

Yes, indeed, this the Crusty Tart bakery. Famous for its wedding cakes. Seriously. No bridal lunch is complete without a cake from the Crusty Tart. Who made your cake, sweetie? The Crusty Tart.

Not to be confused with the Scabby Hooker Boulangerie.

Crusty tarts can lead to getting cold cocked, ya know.

Antique me

The AJF told me to stand by the sign. I didn’t realize until later that I was being featured as merchandise.

Dog and socks

“You call this a post? I’ve seen better stuff on Reddit.”

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Max and the Search for an Inu Shirt

It was the day before Father’s Day. In anticipation of the celebration, Max and I were productively engaged in the traditional activities of quaffing malt beverages, chomping jerky treats and telling snorf, snorf jokes when the Alpha Japanese Female interrupted and screamed like a harridan that wistfully mentioned that she wished she had a new inu shirt.

As a fearful loving spouse, I immediately recognized that my beer and Max’s treats would be in jeopardy were we to ignore the AJF’s tyrannical demand deceptively casual request.

Furball and I leaped into action. Well, that may be an exaggeration. Neither of us is much into leaping but we did lower the footrest on the LazyBoy and reach for the laptop.

Let’s start with the basics: “inu” is the Japanese word for dog. The word can be written using kanji (a Chinese character) or in hiragana which is one of the phonetic, cursive forms of the written language.

inu 4

Kanji character for “inu” (dog) on left; the hiragana version is on the right. Max says dogs don’t care which one you use. This concludes today’s Japanese language class.

An inu shirt, as mandated suggested by the AJF,  is a tee shirt with a very clever image that incorporates the Japanese hiragana characters for inu with a stylized drawing of a pupper. Makes sense, no?

This design is a great favorite of the AJF; it lets her get all ethnic while walking Max around the neighborhood. Since Max actually understands commands in Japanese as well as English, he is happy with the arrangement.

Let your English Sheepdog wear his Union Jack, let your Poodle wear stinky cheese haute couture, let your Shih Tzu wear dim sum, let your Australian Shepard wear the carcasses of drop bears and other deadly creatures found Down Under. The AJF is turning up, she’s turning down, she’s turning Japanese, I really think so.

The cute tees are made in Hawaii by a small business named idkwhat2wear. This company has a knack for capturing the sentiments, language and attitude of local, as opposed to tourist, Hawaii. Visit their website and see for yourself; consider it an insider secret from me to you. But, I digress.


Typical idkwhat2wear tee shirt humor. Pilfered image from their website but, what the hay, it’s free advertising.

Back to the inu shirt. These are hard to come by. In the past we’d simply mosey up Manoa Valley to one of Max’s favorite stores: Hawaii Doggie Bakery. Not so easy to do when one lives in Rancho Cucamonga, eh?

Max wasn’t worried at all because he knows the folks at HDB are delightful (and tolerant of marauding Maltese) and already have a thriving business shipping their goodies from Hawaii to less fortunate global locations, basically everywhere else on Earth..

Inu Shirt

Our fates are dependent on these boss ladies producing an inu shirt, the one with the red arrow. The cat ears may be unforgivable. Image shamelessly poached from Hawaii Doggie Bakery.

We started at the website but, alas, there was no sign of an inu shirt, so we emailed and were advised they were currently out of stock. But the HDB ladies (it’s a women-owned business) remembered our furry little Malt and promised to alert us when the inu shirts were again available.

Inu 2

Close up of the inu shirt. (The pixel shortage is all my fault.) Image pirated without mercy from HDB site.

Not incidentally, Max reminds me that large bags of poi cookies are also available for order and we could bundle and save shipping costs. Just sayin’, Dad.

So, now the pressure is on. If we can produce the new inu shirt for the AJF we are golden and The Malt and I can continue our lives as carefree rapscallions. Should we fail, our beer and jerky may well be at jeopardy.

I will update faithfully. I am going to tell the Hawaii Doggie Bakery folks about this post to place unbearable pressure on them encourage them to produce the goods. Maybe they will comment on this story. Maybe they will simply remove Max and me from the mailing list.

Chick & Poi

Image stolen without remorse from HDB’s website.

One or both of the regular readers of this silly dog blog may recall a December 2014 post about poi dogs that extolled the sheer wonderfulness of Hawaii Doggie Bakery’s dog cookies made of chicken and poi.

Here’s a link to that story. Full disclosure, I have no connection with either of the businesses named in this story except as a customer but if you’re looking for fun stuff, unusual gifts and tasty dog treats, you may want to check them out.

Max heartily concurs.

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