Max's Story (A Dog's Purpose Puppy Tales Series)

Max's Story (A Dog's Purpose Puppy Tales Series)

by W. Bruce Cameron


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Meet Maxa very special dog with a very important purposefeatured in A Dog's Journey, soon to be a major motion picture! Young readers will love this story in the popular A Dog's Purpose Puppy Tales series by bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron.

As soon as he sets eyes on CJ, Max knows that she’s his girl and quickly figures out his purpose: to show her how to navigate the big city. Being a native New Yorker, Max knows how to take charge, even though he’s the smallest dog at the park. At the same time, with CJ’s help, Max learns that he doesn’t always have to be ferocious—sometimes, he can be “gentle Max” and make friends.

Young fans of Ellie’s Story, Bailey’s Story, and Molly’s Story will love Max’s Story, the story of a little dog in the big city. Includes adorable illustrations by Richard Cowdrey and a reading and discussion guide at the end of the book.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Cameron has written other books about dogs for adults, and this one is a charming and delightful story about what it means to be a working dog.... The book is a must for middle school libraries." —VOYA 4Q 4P M on Ellie’s Story: A Dog's Purpose Puppy Tale

"A fine read for young animal lovers." —School Library Journal on Ellie’s Story: A Dog's Purpose Puppy Tale

"An amazing book." —Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple on A Dog's Purpose

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765395016
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Series: Dog's Purpose Puppy Tales Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 63,528
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 670L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


The first thing I remember is a place of barking dogs.

That sound never went away. Sometimes loud, sometimes soft. Sometimes angry, sometimes panicky, mostly just a loud call for attention. "I am here!" the barking said, over and over and over. "I am here! Notice me!"

When I could open my eyes, I learned that my mother was a light brown color. My two siblings were the same. All three of us squirmed toward our mother's fur and her warmth. We found her milk and drank, then we curled together and slept, then we woke to drink again.

Sometimes I heard a sound that was different from the barking. Voices. The voices belonged to women, I realized. I couldn't understand their words, but the sounds were gentle.

"Good dog," they said. "Good dog, Zoey."

I wondered if my mother's name was Zoey. I wondered if I had a name as well.

Even though the voices were soft, my mother trembled when they came near. I could feel her shivering as I cuddled close against her.

One day I blinked my eyes open when I heard one of the voices. I peered up. And up. And up. Then I stared in surprise.

The person saying "Good dog" in such a gentle voice was a giant! She loomed far above us. Her head blocked the light.

"Such cuties," she said.

A hand reached down to stroke my mother from her ears all along her back. I cringed, huddling deeper into my mother's warm fur. That hand was bigger than I was!

I did not want these giants touching me.

As my sisters and I got older, we began to leave our mother's side more often. But there was not far for us to go. In every direction, we were surrounded by walls made of chilly metal wire. I bit the wire a few times, but it did not taste good and it hurt my teeth. I wandered back to my mother, who licked my head. Then a sister thumped into me and stepped on my face.

When the giants came to the door of our cage, my sisters ran over to them, wagging their tails so hard that their entire bodies wobbled. Sometimes they even fell over! But I hung back behind my mother while the two girls got petted and sometimes even scooped up in those huge hands. They would lick the women's great big faces and yip in happy voices.

Why weren't they afraid?

One day a woman reached her hand all the way into the cage for me and hoisted me up into the air. Her fingers closed around me, holding me firmly, as she lifted me.

I did not like it. I growled at her.

"Hello, Max," she said. "You're pretty brave, huh? You going to be a watchdog?"

Another woman came up to peer at me. I growled at her, too. "I'm thinking father was a Yorkie, maybe?" she said. "Don't you think so, Gail?"

"Sure looks like a Chihuahua-Yorkie mix," the one holding me agreed. "He thinks he's tough. He's got a lot to learn!"

Gail put me back into the cage with my mother, and I backed away in a hurry.

My sisters' names, I learned, were Abby and Annie. Every now and then the three of us were taken to another room and put into a pen with some other dogs. Like the people, they were giants. But they were still young, just puppies, like we were.

I could tell because they ran clumsily, sometimes tripping over their own paws. They barked with excitement all the time. And they didn't know that it isn't polite to race up to another dog and sniff his face and jump up to put your paws on his head before you've even been introduced.

I'm not sure how I knew that this isn't the way to go about it, but somehow I did. I darted sideways as a young dog with black fuzzy fur came lolloping up to me, trying to show him that the proper way to meet a new dog is to sniff under the tail first. Then comes the chasing and wrestling.

He shoved his nose beneath my rear legs and lifted me off my feet, dumping me in a heap.

I jumped up and shook myself, ready to growl, but he was already running away. Irritated, I took myself to the edge of the pen. On the outside, a huge white dog lowered his nose to sniff at me. His head was bigger than my mother's whole body!

I backed up, barking, to show him that I wasn't scared.

And that's when I realized an important truth. All of the dogs around me and the women who took care of us — they weren't big. It was the other way around. I was small!

In fact, I was tiny!

It was such an astonishing thought that I sat still, stunned, until the same black dog who had shoved me so rudely before came galloping up and knocked me right over.

He put a paw on my chest, pinning me down. I thrashed my legs and shook my head. He was heavy! I wanted him off me!

He panted down at me, and I'd had enough. I growled. I showed him all of my teeth. And I barked as loudly as I could, right into his face.

He leaped back with a startled yelp, and I was free. I scrambled to my feet. But I wasn't done yet.

Maybe I was small, but that didn't mean it was all right for other dogs to pin me down. Right then and there, I decided that I was the one who should be in charge. I didn't lie down on my back and tuck my tail under for anybody!

I kept my lips back from my teeth to show the other puppy that I meant business. I walked slowly toward him. Somehow I knew to make my legs stiff so I'd be as tall as I possibly could. I lowered my head and felt the fur along my spine bristle, even though I hadn't told it to.

The other dog backed up a few more steps. Then he flopped down meekly and lay on his back, showing me his stomach and throat.

I stood over him for a moment so he'd be sure to get the message, and then I let him get up.

Maybe I was small, but it didn't mean I could be pushed around. I'd have to work very hard to let other dogs know that I was the one in charge.

People, too. People with their giant hands and their loud voices — I'd have to show them that they could not simply do whatever they wanted with me. It was important, I realized, as I looked around the pen where the other puppies were running and chasing and wrestling and barking. A few had curled up for quick naps.

I had to show the world that I mattered because there was something I had to do. A job. I had a job. I don't know how I knew, but I did. The knowledge was part of me, deep inside, just like I'd known to drop my head and show that other puppy my teeth to make him back down.

There was somebody I was supposed to take care of. A girl. A human girl. She was somewhere out there in the world, and she needed me.

I'd find her soon. I wasn't sure how, but I would. And once I found her, I'd protect her.

To do that, I'd need to be the toughest, strongest, fiercest dog I could be. No matter what size I was.

* * *

My sisters and I went into the pen with other puppies again and again, and every time I showed them all that I was in charge. They learned pretty quickly. I didn't have to snap very often. I could tell them with the way I walked, my head up, my ears forward, my tail high. I could tell them with my voice, which was becoming louder and louder, and every now and then by showing my sharp little teeth.

"Be nice, Max," Gail would say. Yes. That was me. My name was Max, and I was a dog to be reckoned with.

After a while, my mother's milk was not enough to keep my stomach filled, and the women began to bring bowls of soft food to our cage. Abby and Annie learned to let me eat first. And then came a day when we were picked up and taken out of our cages with leashes clipped to our collars.

The cage door shut, leaving our mother behind. My sisters looked back and whimpered. I wasn't sure why they did it, but I knew that something did feel different this time.

"Let's go," said the woman. "Time to find you guys a home."

Our mother pressed herself against the cage door and whined gently, once. Then she simply watched as we were led away.

We didn't go to the pen with the other puppies as we usually did. Instead, we were taken outside to a car and put into a large wire cage in the back. When I heard a deep, low hum, it startled me so much that I barked. Then the car started to shake and quiver around us!

My sisters were frightened and huddled against me. I sat bolt upright, alert, watching carefully in case this new sound and vibration turned out to be something I should fight. That's when I understood that we were moving. Through the windows I could see trees and buildings and sky and clouds pass by. We were going somewhere!

The place we were going turned out to be a park.

A park, I learned, was trees and bushes, grass and sky, and people. Lots of people. Gail scooped me up; I growled a little, just to let her know that I wasn't helpless, that I was allowing her to carry me. She took me to a new pen and set me down inside it.

For the first time I felt grass under my paws. It was odd, soft and prickly at once. And the smells! They rushed over me like a tidal wave. I didn't even bother to raise my hackles or lift my lips over my teeth to make sure the other puppies in the pen understood that I was the boss. I just stood with my nose lifted to the air, drinking it all in.

Warm dirt. A soft green smell with a little sharpness to it, that was the grass I stood on and the leaves all around. Something choking and dirty that came from other cars like the one that had brought us here, rushing past not far away. The cool smell of water, more of it than came in our bowls. And food! Food everywhere! Great gusts of food smells swirling all around me.

And people. This place carried the scent of people, more people than I had ever smelled in my entire life.


In the park, I found out that people just weren't giving me the respect I felt I deserved.

Gail and the others at the shelter were not too bad. I was used to them, and I'd gotten to the point where I didn't mind their gigantic hands reaching down to pet me — at least not most of the time. They picked me up carefully, so I put up with it. They spoke softly and their voices were gentle.

The people in the park were not always like that.

They crowded around the pen and talked loudly. Some of them — the smallest ones — squealed in high voices that sounded like my sisters when they got excited. Hands reached down, grabbing at me — so many hands! I stayed back, out of their reach. The right person, I was sure, would not grab or snatch. The right person would treat me with kindness.

Abby and Annie, though, rushed over to the fence to meet the people. Many of the other puppies did as well. They licked the hands that reached for them and squirmed happily as they were picked up. The people laughed. Everyone seemed happy, dogs and people alike.

I was not interested. I knew, deep down, that none of these people was right for me. But when Gail put her hand down into the pen with something in it that smelled enticing, my ears perked up.

"Come on, Max," she coaxed. "Come here."

That smell — it leaked out from her hand, and it made my mouth water. What was it? My mouth felt full of saliva, and my tongue slipped out between my teeth. I started toward her hand. She kept it still and let me pick something tiny and delicious from between her fingers. A treat!

"Good boy," she said softly.

She scratched under my chin, and I allowed her to do it. But when another hand came down, smelling of soap and harsh smoke and sweat, I jerked back, startled. A growl slipped out, and the fur on my back bristled.

The hand pulled away.

"Pretty aggressive for such a little thing," a voice said. The man standing near Gail shook his head. "I have kids at home — we can't have an aggressive dog. Don't you have any who are more mellow?"

Gail nodded as I backed away farther, and she called to my sister. The man scooped Abby up in his hands and laughed.

"Perfect! My kids will be so happy. Thanks! Is there paperwork to fill out?"

"At that table over there," Gail said, and the man carried Abby away.

A few minutes later, a giggling boy reached into the pen to pick up Annie and held her close to his face. Annie licked the boy's chin and nose with delight, and that was the last time I ever saw either of my sisters.

More and more puppies were taken out of the pen as the afternoon wore on. Sometimes Gail would call me over to the fence for another treat, but her hand was the only one I allowed to touch me.

"Mommy! Puppies!" a high-pitched voice shrieked.

A girl rushed over to the pen, curly dark hair bouncing on her head. She nearly fell over the fence as she reached in, her small, soft hand darting straight at my face.

Instinctively, I snapped. My teeth clamped shut an inch from her fingers. It was just a warning, meant to make her back off, as it did for the other puppies. But she shrieked as though I'd actually bitten her, and a tall woman standing behind her snatched her up with a gasp.

"Max! No!" Gail scolded, and I backed away. "I'm so sorry. I think she startled him," she told the lady holding the girl.

"You shouldn't bring a dog like that to the park!" the woman said indignantly, hugging the little girl close. "It's all right, sweetie. That mean dog can't get you now."

Gail sighed as the woman carried the girl away. I was relieved. The girl had gotten the message that she couldn't just pet me or grab me whenever she liked. I'd have to be sure all the people learned the same thing.

As the afternoon wore on, most of the other puppies left with one person after another. At last there was only me.

A man came to join Gail at the fence. "Nobody interested in Max today?" he asked her.

"'Fraid not," she answered with a sigh. "He nipped at a little girl this morning."

The man shook his head. "Even if we did adopt him out, I'm not sure anybody would be able to handle him," he said.

"We don't know that. If someone can train him, really take the time ... He might be fine. I think Max is one of those dogs who could really bond with the right person."

"Well, he might get lucky next week," the man said. "One more event. Then we'll have to put him on the list. I'm sorry, Gail, but you know that's how it goes."

"I know. Poor Max." Gail's voice was sad, but I didn't pay much attention to that. Something had caught my eye, and I moved to the side of the pen so I could see more clearly.

It was a girl.

She was older than the little one I'd had to warn away, but not as old as Gail. Sort of in between. She was walking slowly down a pathway of the park, holding three dogs on leashes. One was enormous, the largest I'd ever seen, a black-and-white mountain of a dog loping easily along. The other two were smaller, one black and curly all over, the other with short, light brown fur.

But I was not as interested in the dogs as I was in the girl. There was something about her. Her hair swung loose to her shoulders, bouncing a little with her steps. The wind shifted a little and brought her scent to me, and I smelled sweat, and shampoo, and something minty that she was chewing, and nervousness, and loneliness, and something else, something that was just her.

And I knew. This girl was mine. The one I had been waiting for.

I threw myself against the fence, barking and barking. I jumped up and scrabbled at the cold wire with my paws, but it was much too high for me to get out. I shook my head in frustration and ran in a frantic circle, barking and barking, trying to make her hear me.

If she heard me, she'd understand. She'd come and get me. She'd reach into the pen and pick me up, and I wouldn't snap, not at her. She'd take me away like the people had taken my sisters and the other puppies, and we'd be together.

Because that was why we were here, I realized. Dogs were supposed to be with humans. All the other puppies in the pen had found the right people, and I had to do the same.

But this girl, the right girl, somehow didn't hear me. My barks were not loud enough to reach her. I was not big enough to jump the fence and race to her. She walked steadily on with the three dogs on the leashes, and Gail reached down into the pen.

"My goodness, Max, what is all the racket about?" she asked, lifting me up. "Careful, now! You'll make me drop you!"

I wiggled and whined in her hands, frustrated and unhappy. She needed to let me down! I had to chase after that girl!

But Gail carried me back to the car and popped me inside a small pen in the back, and my last chance to find the girl was gone.

* * *

The next week I was put in the car again and taken back to the park. This time Gail didn't put me in the pen with the other puppies. She took me to a smaller pen where I could be by myself.

"Maybe you'll be more comfortable on your own," she said. "Don't worry, Max. You'll find a home. But be nice, okay? Be nice."

I looked out past the wire of the pen, wondering about the girl. My girl. I'd seen her here before. Would she be back this time? I had to be ready. If she came, I had to be sure that she'd see me.

Three times people came to my pen and reached their hands down inside it. None of these hands belonged to the girl, so I slunk away and growled. Each time the hands drew back.

"What happened? Was he abused?" a man asked Gail.


Excerpted from "Max's Story"
by .
Copyright © 2018 W. Bruce Cameron.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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