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Mr February 2020 - Max
A Squirrel-Seeking Man

chocolate Labrador retriever, graduate of the New Leash on Life training program, an ice cream connoisseur and an accomplished squirrel hunter. For his experience and life skills, Max is Mister February.
Max has a lovable face, fiiting the month that celebrates love.

Max’s human is Eric Kindle, a man with multiple missions. Eric is a full time paramedic with the Pamlico Rescue Squad, and a first responder and assistant chief of the Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Fire Department. Eric is also celebrating 14 years as the proprietor of The Bean, a coffee shop across from Oriental’s harbor.

Eric and his family moved to this area in 2009. Recalling the canine history of his family, he said, “We had a Chessie (Chesapeake Bay retriever} when we lived in New England, but for four years after we moved here, we didn’t have a dog. I wanted a dog but my schedule made it hard. My mother said if I wanted a dog we might share it and that way I wouldn’t be leaving a dog alone for long periods of time. I couldn’t do that to a dog, lock him up all day in a house with nobody there with him, especially a lab or any kind of retriever.”

Perfectly at ease with strangers who might bear treats, here Max checks in with a couple at The Bean visiting from Pinehurst.

Working with the county rescue squad, Eric met Berkeley Hill, the county’s humane officer. “I knew Berkeley so I mentioned to him I was looking for a retriever. He told me of a lab that had been picked up as a stray in Carteret County and was going through the New Leash on Life program at the prison.”

“I contacted Jackie Schmidt from PAWs. I then visited Max at the prison, sort of a meet and greet. It was good that I did as they were getting ready to advertise him. To this day, we run into people who say ‘You got Max, we wanted him.’ So I was lucky I visited him and committed to taking him.”

Eric’s hours with the rescue squad are 24 on, 72 off. “When I’m not on duty, Max is with me all the time. He goes where I go. When I’m on duty with the squad, mom takes care of him. When I am off duty with the squad, the only time he is not in my line of sight is when he is just in the yard. Our yards are back to back. He stays in the yard and does not leave, even thought we don’t have underground fencing for what is probably an acre and half of land for out two yards combined.”

According to Eric Kindle, Max’s human, “Max plays hard but then puts all his energy into resting.”

Eric reports that Max is a favorite at the rescue squad. For his other paramedic duties as a first responder, Eric said, “I respond in my vehicle and if Max is with me, he goes with me. When I am not on duty with the rescue squad, I respond to any call in Oriental so Max has accompanied me at times but he stays in my vehicle.”

Recalling his early days with Max when he came home from the New Leash on Life training, Eric said, “There was a little bit of a learning curve when he graduated from the program at the prison. We don’t know what his background was but we did discover that he has a chip installed so he was a valuable pet for someone at some time. He is not big as a water dog, but he likes to chase squirrels and he likes treats. He is well known throughout the town to beg for treats. He goes to the bank, to the Provision Company, Marsha’s Cottage, Buddy at the fish market., and he is well known at the hardware store.”

Claire Pittman offers to share her bagel with Max. Though he has favorites, he is not likely to turn any treat down.

Eric continued, “Everybody loves giving him treats. He gets treats at the drive up window at the bank and but he also figured out he gets a treat if he goes in the front door. They caught on to that and ended the double dipping.”

“He loves ice cream, I keep plenty of ice cream at home for him. When he is at The Bean and not tired from a long walk, he will be looking up at all The Bean customers. Until proven otherwise to him, every cup at The Bean has ice cream in it.”

Eric Kindle is rationing vanilla, Max’s favorite ice cream flavor.
Eric said, “I have to squeeze the cup at the top to keep him from devouring the whole scoop in one mouthful. He thinks every cup at The Bean should hold ice cream.”

If I am out and about, he is pretty much where I am. If I go run errands, he goes with me. He gets walked religiously. I walk him religiously at 7:30 am on the days I am not on duty and my mom takes him at ten and four every day.”

If Eric receives a first responder call in Oriental, there is a high degree of probability that Max will be ready to respond also,

Eric’s mom, Sigrid Overcash, added, “We try to make sure he gets at least 4 miles every day.”

As for Max’s harrowing experiences, Eric’s qualifications as a paramedic have been useful. “He caught his hind leg on a rudder at Deaton’s when he took off to chase a squirrel. It didn’t bother him but the blood was gushing from the wound. I stitched him up. A couple of years ago he was bitten by a snake, probably a copperhead. I could see two puncture marks on his leg, and he showed the symptoms. So my being a paramedic has been beneficial for him.”

Eric not only walks Max for exercise, but Max stays in a constant of physical readiness to catch and eradicate squirrels.

While some see squirrels as lovable little rodents with fluffy tails, to many they are just tree rats. A nuisance.

For Max this is simple. He hates squirrels.

Eric talks about Max’s squirrel pursuits: “When he sees a squirrel in the distance, he will stalk it just like you see lions stalking prey on National Geographic shows. He will bark at them when they climb trees. If he could climb trees, I would probably never see him again.”

Pointing a squirrel.
A squirrel spotted, the chase is on.

His reputation for eradicating squirrels has become legendary. Eric says, “He did get a little exasperated when he discovered he could not climb tress to get a squirrel. People have tried to borrow him to get squirrels out of their yards. He will catch them, take care of them, bring them home to my yard if he caught one on a walk; he will dig a hole, bury them and pack the dirt down over them. He buried and then reburied one eleven times that he caught.”

If a squirrel on the ground makes it to a tree, he is safe for the moment.

Max. He plays hard. He naps hard. For his life of kindness, plus pursuit of rodents and dairy products, Max is February’s Pet Of The Month.

Celebrity most resembles: Davy Crockett.
Likes: Vanilla ice cream.
Wants: To chase and catch squirrels.
Secret Talent: Retrieving and burying squirrels.
Dislikes: Thunder, loud noises, and deep water.
Claim to Fame: A sought after squirrel eradicator.
Rule to Live By: All paper cups secretly hold ice cream.

photos and story by Ben Casey

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