Maximus (left) and Storm (right)
Written by Janine Evans
Professional photography by Jackie Wernberg Photography
Maximus and Storm, the offspring of a “police dog” and a Swiss Shepherd protection dog, were born in Saldanha Bay on the 31st of March 2016 and were part of a litter of eight consisting of two black-and-tan, two silver-grey, two pure-black, and two pure-white pups – the family was a true canine rainbow nation! Mum, an exceptional service dog with much sought-after genes, graciously bestowed them on the world before her sterilisation and full retirement to the couch. All her puppies went into service.
Serving the community
At eight weeks old, Maximus and Storm travelled to their new home on Table Mountain with us. Never just pets but working dogs too, these lucky dogs grew up on the Fynbos slopes and mountain trails, searching for mice and playing with fur friends at the local dog park. Attending training school, they completed their basic obedience levels at just six months old. They went on to learn skills such as locating intruders, warning barks, and body guarding of their owners, which became second nature as they worked their way up to Level 1 Protection Training.
However, their youth had its challenges. The neighbour in front would throw rocks at them, while the neighbour on the side frequently turned a full pressure hose on the puppies when they barked. No amount of reasoning or requests would stop this frequent abuse, but it wasn’t long before these intelligent beings learned to stand just out of reach of the hose and dodge the hurtling rocks.
Swimming in the Devil’s Peak abandoned quarry or the local pond, Storm developed a love for water, while Maximus is the quintessential couch potato. Their loving natures, high intelligence and general playfulness soon cemented their place in the hearts of their trainers, family and friends, becoming valued for their warning barks alerting houses bordering the mountain to passersby.
“They let us know to be aware, especially if I’m home alone,” one lady reported.
“My dogs hear their bark long before they see anyone, so by the time they reach us, my dogs have been watching them for a while – it’s wonderful,” said another.
Without ever leaving home, Maximus and Storm were of service to their community – just as their mother had been.
In hot pursuit
On the evening of Sunday April 18th their constant training was called upon. A massive fire was already consuming everything in its path along the mountain. On the Vredehoek side of Devil’s Peak, the silhouettes of three people suspected to be lighting fires were briefly spotted. As one fire started to rage, two others were being lit; the sparks of a lighter could be seen flashing in the darkness. It was imperative that immediate action be taken.
Maximus and Storm bolted almost a kilometre from their house to locate one suspect, instinctively knowing not to bark as it might frighten away the man hiding in the bushes. Once we reached them, they went into the bush, leading us straight to the suspect near one of the fires that had been lit. They were calm and quiet, never barking but standing protectively between us and the man.
Due to the current court case, the details of the discussion with the suspect will not be reported on here. By this stage, the first fire was quite large but was slowly being brought under control by fire fighters, and one of the other two that had been lit hadn’t taken and had gone out.
As we and a security guard took the man down the mountain to wait for the police, Maximus and Storm, now on their leads, kept a close eye on their surroundings, as the other two offenders might’ve appeared at any time.
A hero’s welcome
They returned home to the well wishes of the neighbours – even the mean ones!
However, the event didn’t end there. Showered with messages of love and appreciation from far and wide, enjoying gifts and pampering from local businesses, it’s all been such a new experience for them. They usually don’t mix with strangers, but these two heroes are basking in the attention.
From the shores of Saldanha Bay, Maximus and Storm have become the heroes of Devil’s Peak!