Happy Howloween!

While it is hard to top some of Max’s costumes from last year, I think we came up with a pretty good spread of options to get you in the Howloween spirit this year!

First, here’s Max laying down the Golden Rule:

IMG_3599

And here’s a Hairy Potter!

IMG_3601

Red rover, red rover, Maximus wants to come over!

IMG_3605

It’s BayMAX…

IMG_3607

And bae Max!

IMG_3610

We’ll build up your joy with some Lincoln Dogs.

IMG_3612

Mahowlo!

IMG_3613

Max, Max, Max of the apartment, weird as he can be. Aaaaaaaah, can’t wait to trick or treat!

IMG_3618

Alright, no more foolin’ around.

IMG_3617

I am Maximus canine laude.

IMG_3615

Happy Howloween from the punniest dog I know!

Clothing

Once more, it’s Max! I think this may be my last thought for a while though before Patrick takes over again…

And it is pretty simple – Patrick wears too much clothes!

I mean, I get that he doesn’t have a lush, beautiful coat of fur like me, so he’s got to do something to keep from being ashamed, but does he really need so many clothes and to care about what they look like?

IMG_3508

I wouldn’t complain so much, but the clothes do get in the way of things. For instance, I am ready to go outside and have a lot of fun and then here comes Patrick, who has to go get some of those extra layers of foot fur and then sit down and put on some kind of artificial hoof before we can go out. It takes so long. Every time.

And sometimes he changes his whole outfit just to go outside! It’s so silly. Believe me, if you really needed less on you, I would know.

I don’t think it is just that I am envious of his ability to choose clothing to keep him cooler (though if I could take off some of my fur at will I would). Rather, there seems to be some weird obsession with masking true feelings and not preparing the inward appearance as much as the outward.

IMG_3259

I do find Patrick and many other humans to be authentic much of the time. But I also notice the times when they try to cover up how they really feel about their situations or about other people. Patrick has taught me that people do not only spend a lot of time layering on actual clothing. Often they also layer on a bunch of excess mental/emotional masks to keep their true feelings from being known.

I see people acting nice when I can tell they really just want to bark. Or barking when they really just want to cry.

I even see people clothing themselves in busyness instead of vulnerably facing the difficult and sometimes troubling realities of life. And none of it really makes sense, because that kind of clothing doesn’t protect or fix problems. Rather it just hides them like a big ugly sweater. (And, by the way, Patrick better never make me wear a big ugly sweater. Or any sweater.)

I guess I understand that sometimes there is a need to keep the peace or be sympathetic, but it makes more sense to me to be honest and authentic, as long as you do so in loving ways. And to do that, there doesn’t need to be more preparation and clothing of an outward appearance, but rather a clothing of the heart.

IMG_2953

Patrick has taught me the importance of looking decent, but he has also taught me that humans tend to place too much concern on external appearances, when what matters most is how our hearts are clothed. Patrick has taught me that when a heart is clothed in bitterness and self-centeredness, things can get tense and driven by anger. But when a heart is clothed with love and concern for another, things are much more harmonious.

IMG_2745

I guess I’m at an advantage with not having much control of my outward appearance, but I just don’t understand why people would spend so much time on their outward state and so much less time on the inward.

So thank you, Patrick, for the times when you spend more effort clothing your heart with love than your appearance with self-importance. And thank you for the times when you haven’t hidden under layers of false feelings and instead have been authentic with me.

Limits

Max here again, hehe! Patrick could only distract me for so long, because I’ve got plenty more to say…

IMG_3413

But today I must be very humble. I have to admit that Patrick does quite a bit for me.

Now, I would do all these things for myself if I could – I have the motivation. But it really comes down to the fact that he has thumbs and I do not. He is tall, and I am not (though I am much taller than that Chihuahua!). He can read maps and drive a car, and I cannot.

IMG_2903

I have many limits, which means I cannot refill my water bowl, or open the door to go outside, or drive to cool places that have fun lakes. Patrick tries to make me think I cannot feed myself either, and though I cannot refill my food dish, I do sneak some tasty bites of things I find for myself on walks. (I think it annoys him, but come on – I gotta do something for myself, and it is just too tempting.)

And so I am very grateful for Patrick. He has taught me how to still live fully with these limits and he is there for me when I need that helping hand.

IMG_2815

When I get down on myself for the fact that I cannot do many of the things I want to do for myself, Patrick supports me and shows me that I have many other gifts, like running much faster than him, sniffing out things and hearing things that he doesn’t see coming, and being compassionately present in joyful and troubled times. Patrick has taught me that while the limits are a real part of who I am, they do not fully define me. He has shown me that I have some wonderful gifts and that even in my limits there is some beauty in how I can depend on him and others.

IMG_3442

Ultimately, he has taught me not to disparage these limits, but rather to appreciate how they draw us together. Because we are gifted in such drastically different ways, when we act together we can engage the world in a much more holistic way. And our dependence upon one another only strengthens bonds of care and love. Patrick has taught me that such dependence itself is far from a limit, but rather a wonderful strength that gives our lives more meaning.

IMG_3554

And Patrick has taught me that we all have limits. He can’t seem to smell or hear much of anything, so I always have to keep a look out for what is around us. He does have a pretty good sense of adventure, but often he is too cautious and needs that extra tug to explore what is around the next bend. And he depends on my companionship in fun and troubling times.

So, thank you Patrick for teaching me that my limits are not such a bad thing when they are complemented by our mutual dependence. Thank you for trusting me and depending on me and allowing me to do the same with you.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Jump in a Lake

This weekend I took Max out to my grandma’s lake cabin. I wondered in many ways how he would act, since I planned on letting him off the leash a lot. He would have all day to run around like he’s always dreamed of doing.

One thing I did not expect was to see him jumping in the actual lake. Yes, he is a Golden Retriever and should jump in water just about any chance he can get, but he’s also a weird dog. I have seen him get in only one other source of water and that was after a long hike on a hot day. Otherwise, he always tries to avoid water. He will not get in the fun water feature areas in dog parks we’ve visited and he walks as far away from yard sprinklers as possible. And, of course, he hates getting wet in the bath.

So, it was to my utter surprise that after briefly sniffing around the yard, he took off straight into the lake. It wasn’t hot and I didn’t lure him in, he just did what I’ve never seen him do before.

IMG_3509

And he had the time of his life! He would jump in and come back out to run around, then jump in again at another spot.

IMG_3525

He swam pretty far out (and it was good to find out that he does have some impressive swimming stamina for never doing it), and explored all the tall water grass.

IMG_3522

And I just stood in amazement as my normally overly cautious dog ran and swam around with unrestrained zest. In that moment he taught me that sometimes you just gotta jump in a lake. You gotta throw caution to the wind and have some fun. You gotta seize those moments that bring new vitality to what you do.

And as I observed (and got splattered with muddy water as he came over to me to shake off), I also learned how infectious such life-affirming activity can be. Even in just watching Max, I felt I was sharing in his unbounded joy. It refreshed my soul to see him having so much fun and being the dog he was created to be.

IMG_3514

Max taught me the importance of diving into opportunities that are life giving, whether that is purely having fun, helping serve or being in someone’s life, or a wonderful mix of the two. I am often too hesitant and try to think through how best to engage these opportunities so that I am most efficient. But Max demonstrated that I should jump in and immerse myself in the excitement of life.

IMG_3535

Granted, there is also a need for times to chill out on the porch and recuperate. Max had a healthy mix of swimming and lying out in the cool autumn air. Sometimes you gotta relax, but sometimes you just gotta jump in the lake.

So, thank you Max for spending some restful time with me at the lake. Thank you for sharing with me your zest for life and thank you for teaching me about seizing opportunities for rejuvenating joy.

Jabbering

Aifngow;aogin wr

Hi there, Max here! Sorry about that, I don’t use the computer often, and it’s harder than it looks.

IMG_3487

Anyway, Patrick is busy with who knows what right now, so I thought I’d fill in here, with a lesson from my human, Patrick! (We’ll see how he likes all the attention…)

Patrick does this thing where sounds come out of his mouth…a lot. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other people who make mouth sounds much more often than he does – it seems like it is an issue for almost all humans. But since I am around Patrick the most, I notice his mouth sounds all the time.

The sounds are usually not quite barking nor growling. It’s hard to describe. It’s kind of like he can’t stop jabbering or commenting on every little thing he does. Sometimes he makes these sounds to me, sometimes to others, and sometimes he even makes the sounds to that little rectangle thing he keeps in his pocket.

IMG_0194

Now, I’m a pretty quiet dog. I don’t bark much. And I know some dogs that are much noisier, but at least they are shouting out some very important information that everyone needs to know. It’s the constant jabbering mouth sounds that I just don’t understand, especially when he doesn’t do anything about what he is saying; rather, he just sits and keeps jabbering.

IMG_0195

I don’t want to be too hard on Patrick, because there are some times when he follows the mouth sounds up with some really meaningful actions – like when he finally lets me go explore outside or when he finally gives me a big bowl of food. In these times, I can tell that the sounds really mean something good. I can tell they are sincere and loving.

And I even appreciate the times when the comforting toned sounds are verified by a caring belly rub or scratch behind the ears. That is when I know the sounds mean something.

IMG_3427

Though I have tried to pay attention to all the mouth sounds (well, at least most…it doesn’t count when we are outside), Patrick has taught me that most of them really don’t seem to mean much. A lot of the sounds are uttered into the air and do nothing to impact our lives or world.

But, some of the mouth sounds do matter. And Patrick has taught me that when those sounds are followed up by actions, their meaning can be clearly seen. He has even taught me that, in some interesting ways, the sounds can make the actions seem more sincere and meaningful.

So, thank you Patrick for not jabbering all the time and for occasionally turning the jabber into meaningful action. And thank you teaching me to use mouth sounds when necessary, but to always back them up with good actions.

IMG_0445