Ten years ago, our columnist Ron Marr wrote about adding a third dog to his pack. Meet Max and find out how the gang is doing. Ron’s secret “scent bonding” makes Max’s introduction go as smooth as silk. Their days are filled with thrown balls and naps.

By Ron Marr

LIVING IN a tiny house and sharing my eight hundred square feet with a couple of active and furry roommates, I’m short on excess space. Because I am a writer in an age when our narcissistic, Internet-obsessed culture has rendered my philosophical scribbles less marketable than a butter churn with leprosy, I’m woefully short on income.

Still, the four-legged boys and I happily get by. We live simply, our days filled with thrown balls, tugs-of-war, and ear scratches. We enjoy poorly picked tunes on homemade guitars, off-key harmonica, and fishing excursions to farm ponds. We discovered long ago that a small pack like ours can ramble along on a yearly income that civilized urbanites consider either impossible or (more likely) an embarrassment.

Some folks enjoy pursuing wealth, status, and acquisition, living life fast and frenetic. That’s good; people should always follow the path that makes them most happy. For me, the price of such an existence is too high. It requires foregoing peace, quiet, and solitude. It requires more human interaction than my soul and temperament can countenance.

With all these factors and meager resources considered, I can say with certainty that I never intended to adopt a third dog. I especially never intended to adopt a critter that tipped the scales at 116 pounds. Like I said, I live in a tiny house. Dog food is pricey, and vet bills are high. Moreover, my pups, Jack and Hugo, are set in their ways, a wee bit alpha, and tend to crowd the bed.

But when Max the dog needed a new home, I adopted him on the spot. I never said I was the practical sort, not when it comes to canines.

You see, Max and I were already related. He was my uncle’s dog, a huge, friendly, slobbering golden retriever who mauled me with endless affection each time we met. My uncle loved that dog, but you never quite know what life has in store. When my uncle suddenly passed away in February (on Valentine’s Day to be exact), his loyal and gorgeous pup was left with neither home nor human.

I rationalized it like this. My uncle was the most fun and amusing relative I had, not to mention a fellow dog nut. I figured he would want Max to live in the manner to which he was accustomed, which meant he needed to move in with me. Let’s face it, a lot of people enjoy dogs, but most treat them a little like livestock. Mine have full run of the house, sleep where they want, steal the best spot on the couch, hide my socks, change the TV channels, and basically regard me as their personal butler. I’m cool with that, as they consistently make me laugh out loud. It’s a fair trade.

My only real concern revolved around how three male dogs would get along in a small house. Jack, a terrier, lives up to the reputation of his breed. He’s thirteen, acts like he is four, and believes he’s twenty-two feet tall. Hugo is a three-year-old prankster, an attention hound that could outrun the Energizer bunny, leaving that battery-powered hare gasping for breath and hugging his gut. Max, at four, is friendly as all get-out. He’s also massive. I had a few nightmarish thoughts of battle royales and inadvertent squishings taking place in my living room.

Luckily, years back when I was busy playing mountain man, I devised a secret weapon that tricks male dogs into thinking they’re long-lost chums before they’ve ever met. I won’t go into the details (I call it “scent bonding.” My former vet in Montana says I should patent the method, and that plan is in the works.), but it works like a charm and is only mildly disgusting.

Thus, on first meeting, Hugo and Max began wrestling, playing, and chasing each other around my backyard. That was months ago, and they haven’t slowed down yet. Jack put on a big show of being faux-tough, barking at Max’s ankle, but a week later I caught him curled up on the bed next to our newest family member, snoring away.

Of course, there was that crowded sleeping situation. I solved that problem by moving another mattress into my bedroom. Everyone is now happy, including (I assume) my uncle. Sleeping dogs should always be allowed to lie … on a bed … or wherever the heck they want.

I never intended on adopting a third dog. And now, I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Read what Ron and his dogs were up to in the Janurary/February 2023 issue here.

Article originally published in the June 2013 of Missouri Life.