Just a few months ago, Kerrieann Axt began searching for a puppy. The family dog was 16 years old and her three kids were itching to have a playful four-legged friend.
"I was looking at rescue dogs under the radar," Axt tells MNN. She didn't tell the kids, but each time she found a dog she liked, she would show her husband, Michael, who would just say no. That is, until she found a cute little waggly-tail boxer/hound/Lab mix going by the name of Twinkie.
"I showed him a picture of Twinkie and he said, well, maybe, and she kind of became the maybe baby," she says. "I told the kids maybe we'll go look at this one dog, but it's just a maybe right now. We just don't know if she'll like us or if we'll like her."
They met her and then she met their other dog, Jackson Cade, and everyone got along just fine. So she moved to their Sandy Springs, Georgia, home.
"When she got here and she was staying, we thought now her name has to be Maybe," Axt says.
Maybe's middle name is Jade, a mashup of their other dog's two names. Sometimes they call her MJ, but she is always the Maybe dog.
And that's how it went for a while.
Not a snuggly pup, but a super-smart one
Maybe went to live with the excited Axt family in early July, but early on she wasn't exactly the puppy the kids hoped for. Ten-year-old twins Owen and Eliot and 8-year-old Townesend wanted to hold and snuggle their new little girl. But Maybe wasn't having it.
"She is very independent and very smart," says Axt. She's around you sometimes, but is perfectly content to go hang out on her bed and have some alone time.
The kids knew she was a wonderful dog, but they were somewhat disappointed, which prompted some family discussions. They knew this would be the one puppy their kids would grow up with, and they wanted it to be a great experience for everyone.
"We went back and forth, wondering if this is the right dog for us," Axt says.
Axt talked to the puppy's foster mom who was very supportive and was willing to take Maybe back, knowing she'd quickly get adopted again.
"She just wasn't what we had in our heads of what a puppy was going to be," Axt says. "But we said to the kids, we committed and she likes her life here. We are going to stick with her."
So they started going to training classes as a family and even hired a trainer to come to the house. They found out Maybe couldn't learn things fast enough. People couldn't believe how smart she was and how much she loved mastering new tricks. The kids now read books on dog training and spend time every day teaching her new things and working with her on all the tricks she has already learned.
Maybe's still not much of a snuggler, but the family loves working with her and this smart puppy enjoys all the attention. "That's how we all show love to each other," Axt says.
Maybe saves the day
One of Maybe's many talents is ringing bells on the back door when she needs to go potty. She did that one evening when Axt was getting Townesend ready for bed, so she asked Owen to let the puppy out.
He let her outside and Maybe — who rarely barks — started barking at the yard next door. A frustrated Owen tried to coax the puppy back inside, but she wouldn't budge. Owen knew it must be important if the mostly silent pup was so insistent, so he checked and saw the neighbors' yard in flames. It was a large fire, almost in a perfect circle like a massive fire pit, prompting him to call his mom.
When his mom went downstairs to look, she realized there was nothing intentional about the blaze. She texted her neighbor, who didn't respond. Then when she saw a tree go up in flames, she called 911.
"It was very big. It was the start of a forest fire and trees were going up," Axt says. "It was amazing how fast it moves when you're watching something like that."
The neighbor quickly replied. She had been tucking her kids in bed and was surprised when she heard Maybe's unusual bark. But she didn't realize there was a blaze in her backyard. Within a few minutes the firetruck arrived.
"Once they were there, Maybe rang the bells again," Axt says. "I put her on a leash and I walked her out. She just went out very calmly, wagged her tail, looked at the firemen, sat down and never barked. It was as if she knew, 'We’re going to be OK.'"
The kids are so excited about Maybe's heroics, Axt says. They are convinced that someone from the fire department is going to come to their house and award Maybe a medal of honor.
At least the 6-month-old rescue pup did get a really good chewy that night and probably put up with a lot of hugs from the proud family. In the end, everyone knew that Maybe — for sure — was the perfect dog for them.