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October 7, 2010 Edition

Dear Max,

I have a question about greetings that’s baffled me for a while. What is proper friend greeting etiquette? I know butt sniffing works for you, and I know to hug a friend I haven’t seen in a while, but what about the rest? Are the French onto something with their standard two kisses on the cheek?

— Hugs and Kisses

  Dear Hugs and Kisses:

All due respect, Hugs, but as it relates to appropriate social behavior, I’m not sure you want to go with the French. I mean, they produced and sheltered Roman Polanski. Their idea of a sex icon is Gérard Depardieu. Hell, the best thing in France is Johnny Depp, and he’s from Kentucky.

Regarding butt sniffing, that’s only one of many greetings my brethren and I use. We do that around the humans just so you won’t suspect anything. When we’re out of sight, it’s all paw bumps, paw slaps, chest bumps and… well, okay, there’s a little butt and crotch sniffing then too. I’ve found this to be especially true whenever I meet up with a Goldendoodle, a Yorkie or Patrick Dempsey.

Now then, what should you do? I’d suggest you use a very different approach with your human buddies — unless you happen to run into Patrick Dempsey, in which case, I sure hope you cleaned up thoroughly that day.

It’s easy for women: You can hug anyone you want. Hell, you can wander up and start sniffing with impunity. That’s what I do. (Granted, I’m adorable. It helps.) You are a lady, right? I’m presuming you’re a lady, seeing as how I haven’t received a letter from a dude that was signed “Hugs & Kisses” since, well, let’s see… since Mike Tyson and I were pen pals.

Dear Max:

Since men and dogs are similar, I’m asking for advice about my boyfriend. He’s SO SPOILED, and it’s my fault! I set the wrong precedent by cooking all the time, giving him regular massages and catering to him. My fear is that he’s becoming selfish, and that he doesn’t understand the concept of reciprocity.  What should I do?

— Gina B.

  Dear Gina:

I don’t know what you mean about men and dogs being similar. I realize that you wait on your guy hand and foot, but that’s nothing like my life. I spend my time… well, let’s see… I spend my time lying around the house, waiting for Mommy to scratch my ears, rub my belly and bring my lunch and dinner to me.

(Okay, so maybe you have a point.)

Males of every breed are not that complicated. We respond to positive reinforcement, such as giving us a treat when we do something right, singing our praises and rubbing our bellies. We also respond well to negative reinforcement, such as calling us “naughty” and giving us a little smack or leaving us locked in a crate on the rare occasion we do something wrong*.

(*I’m awesome, of course, so my Mommy has never has never beaten me or locked me in a crate. Though I think she did that to a boyfriend or two. I don’t remember them doing anything bad… that’s odd, huh?)

So if you’re asking me whether you should punch your boyfriend in the face and lock him in the crate, my answer is… maybe. Because here’s the other thing: Guys, like dogs, are kinda simple. They don’t get the subtle digs and the passive-aggressive behavior.

If you want to your guy to wake up and get his stool sample together, you need to do things he’ll notice. “Accidentally” put the parental block all of the ESPN channels and “forget” the password. Tell him the showing of The Town you planned to see is sold out, so tonight you two will be watching the Kristen Bell-Jamie Lee Curtis vehicle You Again. Tell his friends he can’t come out for poker anymore on Tuesdays because his new favorite show is Glee.

Trust me: he’ll be “reciprocating” in no time.

Dear Max:

I see how dapper and handsome you are. You also have a way with words. What I am curious about is your title, “The Straight Shih Tzu.” Are you referring to straight in the “just down with the bitches” way? If that is the case, have you ever dabbled in letting a male dog sniff your butt or just never had the desire to?

— Tam

  Dear Tam:

Why, that’s a very personal question. The title simply means that I’ll always be honest with you. I could tell you right now that there’s something more to that, that I’m as straight as Victoria Beckham’s silhouette. I could tell you that all the bitches line up as I sashay down the street (okay, maybe “sashay” wasn’t the right term), or that I’ll bend over backwards to meet the hottest bitches in town (okay, maybe “bend over” wasn’t the right phrase).

But why distinguish myself? You’d love me whichever way my tail wagged, right? You’ve seen Mommy rocking the duct tape for NOH8, and while I occasionally wish she’d have left it on a little longer, you get the point: We don’t care who you love, as long as it’s not NFL star Antonio Cromartie, who has fathered eight children with six women living in five states, and when asked on camera, couldn’t remember all of his kids’ names. He’s done enough loving for three lifetimes.

For the record, though — I’m straight. Straight Outta Compton, baby!

(Mommy’s note: He’s not from Compton. He just puts on the tough guy act to impress bitches.)

Dear Max:

We recently welcomed a dog into our family. He’s a mix of all kinds of different breeds. I’ve never lived with a dog before and I’m often appalled at what he considers wonderful or even interesting. He sniffs (and sometimes licks!) stuff I wouldn’t go near in a Hazmat suit. My question is, is there anything dogs consider disgusting?

- Mocha’s Mom

  Dear M & M:

This sounds like a great time for a Top 10 list, so, in ascending order…

Ten Things Dogs Consider Disgusting

10. Vegetables. You were going to feed me vegetables? What’s wrong with you? You can wrap that baby carrot in bacon all you want, but rest assured: When you walk away, I’ll be spitting out carrot.

9. The fact that people still marry Larry King on a regular basis.

8. Steven Seagal from 2001-2010.

7. Anything on the TV show Hoarders. On the other paw, we’re totally down with anything on the TV show Hors D’Oeuvres.

6. The fact that the cat gets to go everywhere and we’re not even allowed on the couch. Dude, look how cute I am. I’m adorable and irreplaceable. And that’s… a couch. Now build some wee widdle doggie stairs for the couch, dammit.

5. Botox, collagen, liposuction, plastic surgery and whatever the hell else Mickey Rourke, Priscilla Presley, Heidi Montag and countless others have done to themselves the past decade or so. Have you seen Diane Lane lately? All natural and gorgeous. I’d sniff her butt all day. That’s high praise.

4. Steven Seagal from 1999-2000.

3. All-natural, organic, no-preservatives-added dog food. I know you want us to live forever, but don’t tell me you don’t have a cheeseburger on occasion. Life is meant to be lived, people. You’ve already hacked off our naughty bits. At least let a brother eat.

2. Intolerance. Hatred. Two wars we don’t need still to be fighting. Cats. Partisan politics. Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin clones. Mickey Rourke in closeup. Cats. The notion that reading and writing are somehow passé. The Real Housewives of Every Single City in the United States. Carrot Top naked. Cats. Real-life medical dramas on the TLC channel. Mickey Rourke’s fingernails. Ed Hardy. Repeated jokes in doggie advice columns. And, finally… cats.

1. Steven Seagal. Whenever.

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