The Misadventures of Maverick

A young family of four (five including Maverick) live on our property. They rent our guesthouse and share the property with us. For the most part, they are a typical family – Dad, Mom, ten year-old daughter, and six year-old son. And then there’s Maverick, the 170-pound Great Dane who lives with them. Today’s post is dedicated exclusively to the entertaining antics of this colt-size canine with paw prints the size of pancakes. Welcome to the Misadventures of Maverick.

In spite of his gargantuan stature, he is an indoor dog that sleeps on the couch (the entire couch), begs for scraps at the dinner table (or helps himself from the saucepan on top of the stove if no one is looking), and stands by the door when he needs to “go” outside. In addition to a number of disappearing burgers and pizzas (right off the serving platter in the center of the table), he consumes nearly 100 pounds of dog food every month and when he “hugs” you (with his front paws on your shoulders), he is over seven feet tall.

The best thing about Maverick is that he truly believes he is part of the family, just one of the kids – and he certainly acts like one. He has an insatiable sweet tooth and finds creative ways to satisfy his desire. He taught himself how to open the kitchen cupboards and has been known to help himself to candy, cookies, cake mixes, and other treats. He can open a Costco-sized box of granola bars, unwrap each one without destroying the foil wrapper, and eat the entire box in less than an hour.

Like most kids, cleaning up after himself is not a high priority. In addition to the unbelievable mess he creates on one of his cupboard opening rampages, a trip to the store to replace next month’s dessert reserves is often preceded by a trip to the vet as eating chocolate and other human treats is not a good idea for a Great Dane.

After an extended discussion about whether to get Maverick-proof (i.e. child-proof) locks for the cupboards or a gate for the kitchen, Mom and Dad opted for the gate. Maverick is still part of the family – but he is no longer allowed free access to the kitchen.

In spite of these cute and charming “just one of the kids” stories, when I first met Maverick I was terrified of this massive dog. The way I saw it, any four-legged creature with big teeth and huge paws had to be ferocious, right?

Over time, we got to know each other. When Maverick came bounding toward me at full speed every time I stepped outside, my initial certainty that I was under attack and about to be devoured by a ravenous beast began to subside. I eventually realized that Maverick was genuinely happy to see me. What I initially interpreted as being knocked down and pushed out of the way was merely his idea of a 170-pound, affectionate nudge.

The ice broke recently when Maverick insisted on helping me “paint” my deck furniture. After spray painting a wicker patio table, I left it in the yard to dry. When I looked out the window and saw Maverick “christening” my new table, it reminded me of the time I let my firstborn son run through the yard as a toddler without a diaper (except for the 170-pounds and the leg in the air).
Maverick made me laugh and we’ve been friends ever since. Just like a child, it’s hard to stay mad at anyone who will climb up and sit in your lap (or should I say stand over your lap) and look up at you with those sad “puppy dog” eyes that are begging for attention and long to be close to you.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have grown attached to this huge, loveable, funny looking dog named Maverick. Recently, he became very ill with an obscure infection that was difficult to diagnose. His illness was quite serious and I was sad when it occurred to me that this extremely talented nuisance maker and havoc-maker might not be around much longer.

My sadness paled in comparison to that of his adopted family. In short, many prayers were uttered on Maverick’s behalf that week. God must have decided we needed that loveable, pain-in-the-butt around a while longer. I am happy to report that Maverick is now fully recovered and once again up to his playful antics, namely chasing after the “human” kids and watering my outdoor plants and bushes.

I believe God put Maverick in my life to help me remember not to take life too seriously and perhaps to remind me that fun and laughter are part of this wonderful gift God gave us – the gift of life.


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