Mollie and Max, Her Unwanted Suitor

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I hopped out of bed Saturday morning and stumbled to my closet to grab some clothes. Our master closets each have a window looking out on the front porch and the pasture beyond. This sounds strange but is actually quite a pleasant feature of this house on a hill – a view of stately oak trees, verdant pasture, white cross fence along its edges, the occasional squirrel, birds splashing in the bird bath. A Peeping Tom would have to commit serious trespassing to spy me in my underwear, such as walking onto our front porch from the highway a few hundred yards away. The sight would likely cause an intruder to flee in terror.

As I hopped around trying to pull on an uncooperative sock, I saw Max standing there. Immediately, I ran to the back porch, where I knew my Beautiful Mystery Companion was enjoying her morning coffee along with the critters. She rises before dawn most days. I rise at morning light.

“Is Olive out here? Grab her quick. Max is back!”

She leaped into action, quickly scooping up Olive, a shy and diminutive cat, before we had a reprise of a previous incident a few weeks earlier. Soon all three critters were inside, while I made a phone call. No answer, so I sent a text: Max is back. Please come get him.

Max is an English Mastiff who probably weighs 150 pounds. He lives in the small subdivision across the county road from us. His owner is a young Hispanic woman with a daughter. Max has come to visit about a half-dozen times, a trail of drool a constant marker of his presence. He apparently has a crush on Mollie, our 9-pound Maltese with a 90-pound bark. Usually, he peers into the dining room window while Mollie goes berserk on the other side, barking frantically and nonstop. Max just grins and drools while mayhem ensues inside the house.

His owner is always apologetic when she comes to retrieve him. Putting him in her truck requires us each grabbing a front leg and lifting it on the tailgate, then getting behind him and hoisting him up into the bed. It’s a canine CrossFit workout.

Near disaster struck a few weeks ago when Max showed up while I was at work in the library. My BMC was outside with the critters when Max showed up. Keep in mind he is a sweet, gentle dog. I have never heard him even bark. He just stands outside the fence, tail wagging, slobber flying everywhere. However, Olive the Kitty doesn’t know this about Max. All she saw was a dog whose head is bigger than her entire body. Meanwhile, Mollie is barking nonstop. Olive headed straight up a tree inside the backyard fence. Long after Max had been retrieved by his owner, she stayed in the tree, at least 15 feet up.

I texted my boss (who is also our dear friend) that I needed to head home and try to rescue Olive. She kindly volunteered to show up with her husband and an extension ladder. By the time I got home, they were already there. My BMC was at the top of the ladder. She is the only person Olive would let grab her. If I had tried, that cat would have climbed even higher. Olive lived her first couple of months under a dumpster at the Olive Garden (hence her name) and remains extremely cautious. But she let my BMC get her and bring her down to safety. We profusely thanked our friends for their help.

So that is why I rushed out the back door last Saturday morning yelling at my BMC to grab Olive. Miraculously, Mollie never saw Max, so we did not have to endure a cacophony of shrill barking. Max wandered next door, which is where her owner found him.

It is hard to get upset with this goofball giant of a dog, or her owner, who is always abjectly apologetic and clearly perplexed how Max keeps escaping — and why Max is obsessed with a 9-pound Maltese.

True love can’t be helped, I suppose.

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