When Doug Delony, digital producer for a local news station KHOU, posted a picture on Facebook on May 19, 2016, he had no intention of turning it into a news story. Yet, thousands of likes and shares later, he learned that there might have been more to it than met the eye.
This viral post was about a strange man bringing a stroller to the park, but no child. Delony had noticed him wheel it in nearly every day but hadn’t thought to investigate until the day he took the photo.
As it turned out, the man was not alone. He had brought an elderly dog in the stroller to play at the park.
While this solved the mystery of why the man brought the stroller, it didn’t answer who the man was and why he brought his dog like this each day.
It turned out the man is named Troy Griffin, and he lives with his wife, Edie Mayo in Houston, Texas. Together they take care of Maximillion, a 16-year-old Shetland Sheep Dog. Maximillion (or “Max” for short) has arthritis, making it hard for him to get around. Living on the 10th floor, it can be difficult for him to make it downstairs without hurting himself. Griffin and Mayo take him out in a stroller twice a day so that he can save that energy for romping around at Discovery Green.
“When we take him outside, you can tell he’s having a good time. You can tell he’s just enjoying himself. And if we can do that for him, why not?” Griffin told KHOU.
“He loves being out there, meeting people, especially female dogs,” laughed Mayo. “He loves the little poodles.”
Old age has certainly taken its toll on Max. His 16 dog years translates to about 87 people years, and his high blood pressure led to a torn retina a few years back. Now he’s blind in one eye. Still, there are many dogs his age in much worse condition. Most dogs don’t even live that long.
“For a 16-year-old dog, he’s pretty healthy,” Mayo said.
Max’s owners treat the pooch like royalty, giving him his own corner of the apartment, littered with toys. Throughout the rest of the apartment, there are pictures of Max having a good time with his owners.
“He’s part of our family,” said Mayo, “He’s my best friend.”
Indeed, they are family. Mayo and Griffen adopted Max when was he just 3 weeks old, and they’ve been through a lot together. According to Mayo, Max once warned her of an approaching tornado at their former home near Lake Livingston.
When pets get old and start experiencing health problems, it’s common for their owners to put them up for adoption or even have them put down. Yet Mayo and Griffin want Max to keep living for as long as he can.
“But I don’t think you should just turn your back on someone just because they’re elderly,” Mayo said. “I think they deserve our love and our care and our attention. And there is so much we can learn from them even as they get older.”
“Never do I get the feeling that he’s sad or depressed,” she continued. “He seems happy to be with us, to be loved, and we feel the same way getting love from him.”
Mayo says that Max has taught them many life lessons—but the real lesson comes from his owners.
“I think we should do for him what we would do for our parents, or our children,” said Griffin, “It’s all about dignity and respect … and it’s not just for him. That’s how you should treat everybody.”
So, if you’re ever at Discovery Green and notice someone bending over an empty stroller, you can bet that it’s one of the sweetest most respectful pet owners alive.