Either Max is a naturally happy dog, or he has an uncanny ability to smile for the camera. I find his goofy smiles pretty infectious, and I hope you do to.


Of course, Max has the golden standard of smiles.



He’s no rock-weiler, but he charms all the fans with that (s)waggin’ smile.



Sweet dreams are made of…cheese!



But sometimes, his smiles are pawsitively creepy…



Clap along if you feel like a room without a ruff ruff!



Sometimes, his smile is a little too fur-rocious,



But he’s never hesitant to turn that frown upside down.



…mutt as well have a good time!



Must. Max-imize. Smiles.



And at the end of the day, he’s always looking quite fetching.

Thank you Max for your smiles – they brighten my day. I hope you keep smiling and bringing more and more joy to this world, at least until the day we can all smile as authentically as you.

P.S. This also pairs nicely with Jay-Z’s “Smile”, for those who have Tidal or other access to it.


When I was growing up, I had a dachshund named Peanut. Peanut was my first dog, I got him when I was two years old, and he stayed with us until I was in high school, so he was with me through most of the time I was figuring myself out.


Peanut was around to comfort me in the busy school days and to enjoy with me the lazy summer days. He was with me as I thought and dreamed and wondered. As any child, I often dreamed of different things I could be when I grew up. Paleontologist was the front runner for a long time, but even in those days there would be moments when, while sitting with Peanut, I began to wish I could just be a dog.

From my perspective, Peanut had an easy life. He got to sleep whenever he wanted (I really liked sleep back then), he didn’t have to do any homework, and he got treats pretty regularly (my mom spoils all her dogs).

It was a no-brainer to me – the ultimate dream was to be a dog and live the carefree dog life.


I don’t have many lazy summer days anymore, but when I get a chance to watch Max resting by the window, it takes me back to those childhood dreams. Especially when so much crap is happening all around the world and we seem to keep circling around hate as if it were our tail that we are chasing, I begin to wish that I could be a dog, curled up by the window, carefree and ignorant of all the problems that still suffocate our world.

Being a dog would be such a beautiful escape.


And I feel that way as a privileged white man, who for all purposes does have the ability to escape all the craziness. I can choose not to be bothered with it. That reality in itself is a big part of the crappiness, and I try my best to address it head on and not shy away from it.

I cannot know what it is like in other people’s shoes, but I do trust the voices who cry out because they cannot escape the oppression, they cannot simply walk away or ignore the structural racism and sexism and all other evils that make up our society.

And yet I cannot shake the desire to just escape it all. I cannot deny the inclination to ignore it all like a dog.


But Max teaches me that such escapism is not an option. He reminds me that I am one with the ability to walk out the door, I am one with the responsibility to interact with that society I sometimes don’t want to be a part of, I am one with words and actions that can really make a difference in small or larger contexts.

And so if I just sit at the window watching the world go by, my inaction would make me complicit in the problems. Even if I sit there and sigh at what I see, I am not making anything better until I escape the escapism that nags at my tepid mind.


Max has taught me that I am one who can speak out against the hate, or be complicit it in, but I am not one who should escape it. Max may have that right, but I do not.

So thank you Max, for teaching me that as tempting as it looks, I should not escape into the carefree life you live. Thank you for reminding me about my responsibility to speak up and act out in this crazy world.

Chasing Tail

Sometimes Max can act in the most stereotypical dog ways. I can’t help but laugh every time he pees on a fire hydrant or bolts after a squirrel.


And of course, he even chases his tail.

It’s a little surprising when he does chase his tail, because it never makes sense. It’s a sudden outburst of irrational behavior that gets him nowhere. And it’s dangerously out of control – I know he can’t see where he is going and he gets uncomfortably close to coffee tables and bookshelves as he is whipping his whole body around and around.


When I watch him do it, I usually think several things:

Dogs are so weird.

I hope he doesn’t knock anything down or hit his head on something.

I’m glad I don’t do anything like that.


And yet, Max has me wondering – surely I don’t do anything like that, right? Surely I don’t irrationally go around and around in circles not really getting anywhere.

Unfortunately, Max may be teaching me that I am not so different, that I too may be stuck in an irrational cycle of unhealthy, unhelpful movement.


It definitely seems like my country is. We seem to be circling around hate and violence as if it were our tail that we are chasing and can’t quite seem to get. We keep chasing and chasing ourselves instead of moving forward. The evil spreads and we wonder why we didn’t see it right after collapsing from another round around ourselves.

In this tail chasing, I worry that we keep trying the same things over and over again, thinking we will finally catch the evil around us, and yet we find ourselves ever chasing it.

I worry that we arm ourselves with sharper teeth or fiercer barks to no avail. In fact, while we tell ourselves those tools are necessary for catching the evil, it seems that they only hurt those trying to help us see what is really going on.

And I worry that we begin to think that such tail chasing is either just a reality of being human or that it is a game.


And then Max makes another lap around himself and I begin to realize that I too am guilty of chasing my tail. It is not just the country – it is me.

Every time a black person is murdered and I stop short at reading all the articles about it, I have irrationally gone around and around and not gotten anywhere. I have become complicit in staying busy but not rooting out evil.

Every time I complain about decisions my elected representatives have made but fail to write or visit them, I chase what I think is just the state of things beyond my control, instead of making use of the access afforded to me.

Ever time I hear a sexist micro-aggression, and I laugh it off as a joke or ignore it for fear of confrontation, I chase my tail expecting the problem to resolve itself while I look distracted.


Max has taught me that chasing my tail gets me nowhere and is both irrational and dangerous. Chasing my tail when real hate and injustice and violence are present means that such evil will only continue to go on and I’ll probably hurt myself while ignoring it. There’s a lot more to do in speaking out and transforming the words and symbols I and my community use, but ceasing the tail chasing is at least the first step.

So thank you Max for teaching me how problematic it is to chase my tail instead of dealing with the real problems around me. Thank you for teaching me how I’ve been irrationally circling around that evil but not really dealing with it. I hope you can show me a better way forward.