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October 26, 2006 Edition

Dear Max,

Will there be a sequel to Stupid and Contagious? I hope so!


Dear CMP,

I hope so, too. The royalties keep this place open for business — meaning that your favorite Shih-Tzu gets *paid* (and dog dollars, like dog years, are different from yours — the main difference being that dog currency is edible, and not like those red-hot dollar candies, which I’ve tried, and which get stuck in my teeth, which I wouldn’t mind, because then you’ve got a snack that stays with you, except that in trying to work them free with strenuous jaw work, I’m screaming, “Look at me! I just misbehaved!”). My mom won’t give me the tiniest clue, but no worries: I’m spit-balling a few ideas of my own, and I’m planning to wrap a page or two around her coffee when she’s not looking, in place of her Starbucks cardboard insulation sleeve (those always get read, right?). Working title: Stupider and More Contagious, Perhaps Virulently So. Still struggling to find a way to get along, Heaven and Brady get a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to determine once and for all whether love a) hurts, b) stinks, c) will keep us together, d) is the drug for me, or e) is a splany mendored thing. It’s kind of a buddy-romcom-adventure-suspense-thriller … except this time, daddy’s bringing home a present that no one bargained for. Anyway, it’s a work in progress — but maybe it’ll get the ball rolling.

In the meantime, anyone who still hasn’t lived “Book 1” of this fabulous voyage needs to grab a copy of Stupid and Contagious (available now through amazon.com (click on the side »>), bn.com, and fine booksellers everywhere). Do that enough times, and they won’t care what Caprice Crane concocts for the sequel: they’ll be hungrier for fresh pages than Mark Foley.

Hi Max,

My name is Honey (sweet & golden). I am a beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback and normally very well mannered. We have a big back yard, I love my neighbors and they love me. Except…when one of them crank their lawn tractor. At that point, i just want to eat them. I go crazy, tearing at the fence and trying to get to them! I am one in a pack of five and the others don’t do this. Why does it bother me so much? It’s humiliating when my mom has to drag me in the house. I know that the grass has to be cut but what can I do about this?


Hey Honey:

Aren’t you a Zimbabwean Ridgeback now? So, they call you Honey because you’re sweet and golden. They called me Max because it turns out I’m a maximum pain in the Ask Max is where readers turn for answers, so let’s get back to the matter at hand. You love thy neighbor, but not thy neighbor’s lawn tractor? I have a similar thing with vacuum cleaners. (As a city dog, that’s my point of reference. I’m sure lawn tractors would put a ridge in my back, too.) I walk away using quick but very tiny steps, looking over my shoulder toward the source of the noise. I circle and pace, duck, cower, and generally lose my senses. After what seems like a few years, the noise stops, and I go back to owning the joint.

In your case, I don’t think there’s any cure. Oh, yeah, your owners could try to teach you to tolerate the ear-splitting motor, the razor-sharp high-speed blade, the belching smoke from that little 2-banger engine. But your instincts are probably working right on this one. Attacking it? VERY bad idea. Mom bringing you inside to keep nitro and glycerin apart? GOOD idea. Best idea? Get another Rhodesian Ridgeback. Then you’ll have a six-pack.

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