My first thoughts about Max were strictly utilitarian: a dog, a small mutt of a canine, could go places, see and hear things, and find clues that we hulking humans could not. His name came quickly as tribute to the other Max in, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’. I know that Max well... I have been watching him assist the Grinch as a Christmas tradition since the show began. Choosing Max’s gender was not difficult once I’d conjured up the character of Mickey, street woman extraordinaire, natural leader, with both a troubling past that is only given passing reference, and a heart of gold for her vulnerable family. I instantly knew Max would compliment Mickey as a sort of other half to the old married-like couple that they became. Although Mickey is the boss, they debate and bicker and make up because that is what long term couples do. At one point, Max chastises himself for teasing Mickey— his lifelong habit—because, as he says, the old gal really does love him. Implied in his comment is the fact that he loves her back every bit as much.
Max himself does the best job explaining what type of dog he is in chapter one. “I’m a Chiahuahua-Jack Russell mutt-mix and proud of it....The Jack Russell in me makes me want to move all the time, and the Chihuahua part makes me want to hoot, holler, and pick fights with people and dogs that are bigger than me.” I was trying to get right combination of qualities in my mystery solving narrating canine. I didn’t know that a Chihuahua-Jack Russell was actually a breed, let alone what the heck it might look like. So, with a quick google check on my part, and far more time painting by our brilliant Dog-Eared Books artist Jocelyn, the complete visual image of Max was born.
So, why choose Max to narrate rather than Mickey? Well, I never really had to consider that at all. As soon as I conceived of Max, he not only started talking, I couldn’t get him to shut up (Mickey and I seem to have the same problem). Mickey is not a talker, or a joker, or someone who likes to complain, whereas Max wants the world to know how how funny he is, how much he detests cold weather, and how much smarter he is than [most] humans. Only Mickey can hear Max, and since he talks often, Mickey is often caught seeming to be talking to herself. Though Mickey is as smart as they come, people don’t give much notice to her talking to her dog because after all, she is a street person, and that is the sort of thing "street people do". Max loves making Mickey look silly, even if he does have real affection for the old gal. The story is pure fiction, but what they talk about is real. They have to find shelter from the cold, they have to eat, and their lives change dramatically when they learn that they have to find out what happened to their friend, Frankie. All of which allows us to have fun with a fast talking street wise tiny mutt who acts like he has the strength of a Rottweiler, and the brain of Einstein. Still, for all his peculiarities, Max helps remind us humans that we should remember at all times to: be loyal to our true family; be grateful for all things including the hair-ball covered crust of toast smeared with grape jelly under your new sneakers; and don’t take ourselves too seriously--life is way too much fun for that!
Larry lives in Ottawa with his
two dogs, and