Max Visits the Southwest (Part 1)


Road trip! The plan was to re-visit some our favorite places in the Southwest. With side trips and sightseeing, we figured it would take a week and some 2,000 miles to cover the route from Rancho Cucamonga to the San Juan mountains of Colorado and back, including stops at Zion National Park, Durango, Telluride, Grand Junction and elsewhere.


Actual miles driven were just over 2,200. The Malt has callouses on his furry little dog butt. So did the AJF but it would be indelicate of me to mention that.

The road trip got off to an inauspicious start. A few days before we left, Max developed a strange affliction on his paws. They became red, swollen and obviously painful; he started to limp.

A visit to the Vet produced inconclusive results. There were no obvious signs of trauma or disease. No fungus among us and his claws were in good shape. The Vet attributed the paw problem to Max’s never-ending series of allergic reactions to nearly everything including oxygen, blue skies and sunlight.

Never one to miss a billing opportunity, she prescribed some paw ointment, some antibiotics (just in case), and apparently just for the hell of it, a new ear wash. Then came strict instructions to procure doggie booties and make Max wear them indoors and out for a week to try and isolate his feet from whatever allergens were causing the problem.


A despondent dog. He’s not shaking his booties.

As we drove away $200 lighter, I swore I heard the Vet call her husband and merrily tell him to get a sitter, they were going out for steaks that night.

The doggie booties plan did not amuse the Malt. The medicines he could tolerate; however, the booties were anathema, an insult to Maltese pride, beyond the pale. His spirit was crushed to the point that only several extra cookies could elevate him from a deep depression.

From the start, we were doubtful about the booties but bought them anyway, Max’s contribution to making Jeff Bezos the richest man on Earth, at least for a little while.

He (Max, not Jeff) wore the booties for about three days after which we all agreed that this particular experiment needed to end. Finally, we were ready for departure!

From the Rancho, we first drove to Southern Utah to visit one of our favorite spots: Zion National Park.  The mostly boring drive is a 6 hour jaunt across the Mojave Desert, through Las Vegas and along the Virgin River canyon.


Recent rains caused the Virgin River to be muddy. We didn’t want a brown Malt so no dog swims were permitted.

As some may remember from earlier posts, we used to live nearby and Max’s roots are in Utah. We acquired him when he was 8 weeks old from a very nice Mormon family, after spotting his picture on a community bulletin board at a supermarket in St. George.

They had named him “Dash” which may have been appropriate then, but not now. At 10+ years, Max doesn’t dash about like he used to.

I’ve heard that getting older can be tough, although I have no personal experience.

Zion Max and Watchman

With this perspective, he looks like the Godzilla version of a Maltese. The dog that ate Zion Park.

Whiles he moves a bit more leisurely, Max has gotten smarter with age and has learned to scam the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) into spending significant sums to make his life easier.

For example, he now has his own ride which looks suspiciously like a baby stroller but, according to Amazon Prime, is actually a bonafide dog carrier suitable for such a manly Maltese.


Zion Max in Carrier

This is how he rolls. Don’t judge.

As a puppy, he refused to walk over bridges because there were gaps in the footpath and he could see the river below. When we dragged him on to a bridge, he hunkered down and did a Groucho Marx-like squat walk to the other side, his belly never more than 2 inches off the surface. These days he either rides in his carriage or simply waits for his DogMom to carry him across the span.

Zion MC on bridge 2.jpg

The AJF and Max demonstrating the Malt-approved method of crossing bridges.

Of course there were picnics and hikes on the Pah’Rus trail which runs along the valley floor. Some of the hikes actually involved having paws on the ground!

Zion Picnic 3

Zion Pa'Rus 2

Note the enormous tongue. The one on the dog. It was a bit toasty.

And yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I am also to blame for spoiling the gentle little white dog.

Zion Tom and Max on Ra'Rus

Guilty for aiding and abetting the Malt.

Most of the folks we encountered smiled to see Max riding on the trail but some seemed aghast that we would treat a dog better than they treated their own children. When we spotted that reaction, we leaned over to the little kids and whispered that their parents must not love them very much. Just spreading the sunshine.

On the positive side, by bundling Max in a stroller, the AJF and I were able to cover a lot more territory and walked for hours. Without said conveyance, she and I would have had sore necks from looking behind us as a certain pupperoni was dogging it along.


Trudging Behind

“Slow down. My legs are shorter.”



17 replies

  1. Sorry Max had some issues before going on a fur-bulous vacay. Wish I’d known you guys were somewhat in the vicinity; I’d have baked him some treats for the return road trip. We’ve seen those strollers around our millennial-filled neighborhood. I’m waiting for someone to create one that has a slot for the cherished offspring as well as a spot for the resident pooch. Happy trails, Max!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It really simplifies things. Often we can now go into marginally dog friendly restaurants without garnering attention and on walks…none of the endless sniffing stops! Thanks for coming by.You have an interesting blog and I want to read “Orphan Train”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So much to respond to here, Tom. Firstly, I actually managed to get a better idea of Max’s size, especially after meeting that very cute Maltese x rescue dog who was very tempting. Sorry to hear of him having troubles with his paws and I can understand why the poor guy doesn’t have a shoe fettish! The canine carrier was interesting and I’ve never seen one of those around here. However, my physio would approve. The idea is to raise your heart rate not go sniffing every bush in sight. There are a few older dogs and owners who really only sit at the beach.
    BTW an update on Lady’s random affairs of late. It seem the dog in uniform was a decoy for a local scruffian…a terrier of no description. We were returning from dropping my daughter at the station and I’d spotted the dog off leash and made a mental note that it could be trouble. We don’t have a front fence and Lady often jumps out of the car and takes off across the street and down the laneway. Anyway, I seemingly immediately forgot my instincts and Lady jumped out of the car and took of with this other dog like bolts of lightening. She used to get out a bit and I suspect she’s met this dog before. They looked like old fiends together.
    That said, she’s probably missing Bilbo and getting bored with us humans.
    I’m looking forward to reading more about your holiday.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ro! I’ve had big dogs and now a small one and there is a huge difference in lifestyle depending on canine size. The little guys are fussier to attend to, have attitudes wholly disproportionate to their scale, are certainly more fragile but, at end of day, much less physically taxing on the owner! The malt never jumps out of the car. He waits for the door to be opened for him and then asks politely for a lift down to the ground. Basically, the bigger ones can wear you out; the puppettes get worn out instead. Though he tries to be a gentledog about it, Max is secretly glad that Lady’s romance with the dude in uniform looks to be a no go. Not sure in your comment whether you deliberately meant to say that Lady and the terrier “looked like old fiends together” or if that was a typo for “friends” but frankly it works very well either way! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Max sounds like he has wonderful manners,although it also sounds like you’ve become his butler. Lady is a lot more mellow than Bilbo and seems much more cavalier in her makeup. She’s a mellow ball of fluff most of the time. Our postman must be wondering what’s happened. Or, just knows. After 11 years of vicous barking, silence.
        How are Max’s paws going? I felt quite sad seeinghis paws in those boots. I’m very fond of him and hope his paws are getting better.
        Had better keep going.
        Best wishes,


  3. Just loved this story… Made what was for better part a nasty day a great ending had me not only laughing but really smiling as I have my first time very small dog (rescue) always rescued big …bad and big and odd dogs cats BELLA IS A FIRST…TINY DIVA . She has as I have come to realize been training me in ways off small dog treatment or as she would put it if she could talk treating her like the Diva she is! But she is delicate yet feisty demands carrying for at least part of walks and picks own clothes which more sequins the better ….no clothes no move …NO LIE LOL ENJOYED ELLE AND HET BELLARINA

    Liked by 1 person

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