Did you know that the first mayor to ever hold office in Idyllwild, California, was a dog? The first Mayor Max—full name Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller—was elected in June 2012, beating out thirteen other dogs and two cats in the race for mayor. Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends (ARF) sponsored the election and allowed residents to cast their votes with a $1 donation. The election raised $31,000 for ARF, with $21,142 coming in from Mayor Max supporters. With two-thirds of the vote, Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller—Max I— secured the position of mayor. Sadly, his term ended abruptly with his death after just nine months in office.
Max’s “owners,” Phyllis Mueller and her husband Glenn Warren—Max’s Chiefs of Staff, as they’re known around town—adopted three new puppies, all with familial ties to the original Mayor Max I. One of those puppies became Mayor Max II, while the other two, Mitzi and Mikey, became deputy mayors. After nine years of loyal service to the residents of Idyllwild, Mayor Max II passed away unexpectedly of cancer in July 2022. Phyllis and Glenn adopted two beautiful golden retriever puppies from Golden Havoc Kennels in Payson, Utah: Mayor Max III and Meadow. Residents and business owners alike appreciate the unbridled enthusiasm Mayor Max stirs up in the unincorporated city of Idyllwild, fueled by those two Chiefs of Staff, who have devoted their lives to helping Mayor Max spread goodwill to the citizens and visitors to his hometown of Idyllwild.
Today, Phyllis and Glenn live happily at home with their four dogs. Max III and Meadow are five months old and absolutely thriving, and Mikey and Mitzi are ready to show them the ropes of serving as Idyllwild’s mayoral team. I had the opportunity to chat with Phyllis and ask her all about Max III and what it’s been like so far to raise the next mayor of Idyllwild.
When was the last time you had a puppy in the house? How is it to have puppies now?
When Max I died, I went and got three puppies: Mitzi, Mikey, and Max II. I had three puppies then, and that was great. So, 2013 was the last time I had puppies, but I’m really good with them. I’m a dog lover! No issues. Now, I have two new puppies (Max III and Meadow) and two adult dogs (Mitzi and Mikey) who are just like puppies. Because I’m an experienced dog owner, and dog lover, it’s no issue. It’s fun, fun, fun!
Does he have a special training regimen to ensure his friendliness and mayoral abilities?
No, I don’t really have a training regimen for my dogs. What I do, and what I’ve always done, is I let my dogs be dogs. I do not train that out of them. If they want to jump on you, they’re going to jump on you. If you don’t want a dog to jump on you, I won’t have my dog over near you. I let them be dogs. Because of that, if you met Mitzi and Mikey right now, who are going to be 10 years old in May, you’d see they’re just like my two puppies. They have not settled down at all. I love that because they are naturally the way they were born to be. I let them run. I let them chew. I let them dig. I let them play. I just let them be themselves!
Just like Mayor Max I and Mayor Max II, Mayor Max III has special qualities about him. In fact, I just had some visitors here today and they couldn’t stop telling me how much Mayor Max III is just like Max II! I’m pretty sure I have something related to reincarnation going on here. I encourage my animals, through their death process and after they die, to stay with me. In one of the calendars, I published the similarities between Mayor Max I and Mayor Max II. Now, If I were to publish the similarities between Max II and Max III, I’d have about six or seven solid similarities. Their uniqueness is beyond the basic similarities that all golden retrievers have.
Does Max III usually have visitors? Does he spend time meeting the residents of Idyllwild?
Yes. I always go downtown for visiting hours. That was the case up until COVID-19. During the lockdown, I did 1,400 visits at our house. Individuals or groups of individuals would meet Max outside my house with masks on. Sometimes I had cars lined up the length of the driveway waiting for their turn. When the lockdown ended, I went back to downtown visits, but if somebody couldn’t make it during those hours, then I’d let them do house visits. I came down with pneumonia in December, so I had to cancel the downtown visits, but I still allowed people to visit Max at my house. We resumed the downtown visiting hours on March 2nd, but I’ll never say no to a house visit.
What is Max III’s favorite pastime so far?
There are quite a few things that all my dogs love. In particular, Max III and Meadow like snuggling on the couch a lot. You can see through all the videos on our Facebook page how much they love affection and being held. Even at 50 pounds, these dogs love their cuddles!
All four of them also love any kind of action. They love to run and play with their toys. Max III and Meadow went to Dairy Queen for the first time ever on Wednesday, February 8. They loved it! We went to celebrate Mikey’s recent surgery, which went really well. The doctors removed a tumor the size of a grapefruit and a tumor the size of an egg. Luckily, they turned out to be benign. Now the stitches are out, and Mikey is feeling like his old self again. Mitzi and Mikey have been to Dairy Queen many times, but Meadow and Max had never been. They were all very happy to get their a little bit of ice cream to celebrate.
How well does he get along with his sister, Meadow, and his other friends?
I have two sets of twins now that Max III and Meadow are a part of the family, and each pair of twins gets along great with one another. I haven’t put the four of them together in a kennel or outdoor dog run yet. My two adult dogs, Mitzi and Mikey, are still so big and powerful compared to the puppies. All four of them are with each other every day, but I have them separated by a fence, but they can still paw up to each other and be face to face. They get along in that way and can be close to each other, but I’m being very conservative about their socialization.
Does Max III have any quirks?
Yes, he has a funny one. It’s hilarious actually. When I open the door to the outdoor kennel to let him in the house, he’ll just sit back and won’t come inside. Then he’ll sit up and put his paw out like he’s reaching for you, but he still won’t come in. I just have to wait it out. Thirty seconds will pass. Forty-five seconds. Then he’ll come in. It’s the funniest thing, and it’s really cute! I haven’t noticed any other quirks, except that he’s afraid to walk down the stairs.
What is your favorite part of his personality?
Max I, Max II, and Max III all had and have an animal magnetism that I don’t quite know how to describe. When you’re close to them, you just have to put your arms around them and bring them close to your body. This is a sign to me that they may all be the same dog. I used to tell my husband all the time how I just can’t keep my hands off them! Max II would tolerate this affection from me, but he didn’t like it from other people. I was always hugging him and kissing him on the face. He would put up with it, but he definitely didn’t love it. But I’ve noticed when I do this with Max III—and I’ve already done it several times today—he looks at me with a familiar look. He lets me do it and he seems to enjoy it. I think it’s another sign that he might be a reincarnation of Max I.
What has been the best part of raising him?
Cuddling on the couch! Both Meadow and Max III must have been very heavily socialized while they were with their breeder because they love cuddling a lot. I’ve never really been able to cuddle my other dogs. I could pet them and hold them for a minute, but Max III and Meadow thrive on affection. We just had some visitors today who were amazed at how much the puppies love to be held. They are just so comfortable in anyone’s arms. I enjoy every part of raising him, but snuggling with him on the couch is the best. We do it several times a day for as long as they want. It could be for as long as forty-five minutes! But some days they’ll get active after five to ten minutes. We just love to hold them, love them, and kiss them. You can feel their energy while you do it. It’s so positive!
What is your hope for the legacy of Mayor Max III?
It’s funny, we were just talking about this today! When you read our yearly calendar, you’ll see a “POET” section— this is Max’s Peace on Earth Team (POET) section. POET is essentially our strategy for how to create peace on earth and what each individual can do to help make it happen. POET is incredibly important. We had a meeting about the Mayor Max legacy today, and I’m considering changing how I think about it. For now, at least, I’ve been trying to create enough Mayor Max content so that when I pass away, the posts that bring people so much joy and happiness can still be generated. So many people have told us that they love to start their day with Mayor Max, and that we’ve changed their lives for the better. I want to continue that, leaving thousands of new posts that will create the same joy and happiness as when I was alive.
We recently met with a gentleman who asked me to consider the continuation of Mayor Max in a different way. He suggested creating something like a foundation that would continue beyond my lifetime. I never dreamed that was a possibility, especially since I’m so busy—but now, I’m considering it. I would be so happy to know that my goal and purpose for mankind would continue. I don’t see any reason why we can’t all live together, thrive, and have a peaceful planet.