This town has had a golden retriever as its mayor since 2012
The town of Idyllwild is a pleasant and quiet small town in California nestled in the San Jacinta Mountains, with plenty of hiking trails, tall pine trees and even notorious rocks. But it does have one claim to fame that really puts it on the map: It has gone to the dogs. Almost literally.
Since 2012, the mayor of this town has been a golden retriever. And not just one dog — a whole dynasty of them. According to Mayor Max’s website, the first dog in the line to lead this city was Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller. How did that happen? Because of Idyllwild’s unincorporated status, it doesn’t actually have any politicians. So, Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends (ARF), a nonprofit organization, decided to sponsor the town’s first mayoral election, and anyone could nominate their pet. In fact, only animals could be on the ballot.
This was a great idea for a fundraiser, as you could buy a vote for $1, and all $31,000 of the proceeds benefited ARF. Fourteen dogs and two cats were nominated, and Max won two-thirds of the vote. He was inaugurated with much pomp and circumstance, including a visit from a nearby town’s human mayor and a poem from an ARF “poet laureate.” In fact, Max became a local celebrity, making public appearances, participating in charity drives, and appearing on merch that drew in tourists. His motto: “The paw is the law.”
Max became so popular that the people appealed to ARF for a continuance of Max’s reign after the one-year term was over. Unfortunately, Max died in his second term, in April 2013. The residents of Idyllwild, The Washington Post reports, was so distraught that they turned their government into a monarchy, led by Max’s relatives.
Fortunately, Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller II was available to transition into the position when he was just a pup. Here he is, pictured on one of his first days in office at about four months old:
Of course, Max II had a little help from staff — who also happened to be his siblings, Mikey and Mitzi Mueller. Yes, this was indeed a case of nepotism; Mikey and Mitzi are from the same litter and Max is their cousin. Here is a Facebook post showing the two acting as security detail:
The line continues: After nine years of Mayor Max II’s administration (Max II died in July 2022), Mayor Max III was sworn in on Dec. 12, 2022. Mikey and Mitzi remain on staff, and a new family member, named Meadow, is now the vice-mayor.
Here’s a post showcasing Meadow and Max III about town:
On Mayor Max’s Facebook page, Meadow proves herself a valuable member of the government, as she clearly expresses an interest in cleaning up the town.
“I think it would be fun to come over and visit you,” she says in the post. “You probably have several things in your house that you have been wanting to get rid of for a long time, and I could help you with that. I am a world-class chewer and shredder.”
Phyllis Mueller, the dog posse’s chief of staff, owner of all three previous mayors, and the dog-lover responsible for almost one-third of that $31,000 donated to ARF back in 2012, told ThePost, “They have all been excellent leaders.”
In case you’re thinking this contest was fixed: yes, that’s exactly what happened. Fortunately, thanks to the Phyllis and Glenn deciding to take the position seriously, the dogs have been benevolent overlords — except to their neckties, which they like to chew up. They wear customized harnesses that proclaim their elevated status in town, too. They ride in “Mayor Mobiles” and go downtown every day, representing the town at gatherings, holiday events and more. During the pandemic, they even made visits to residents to boost morale.
If you’re interested in keeping up with the mayor and his staff, they make it a point to be available to their constituents and other interested voters. You can find them @mayormax1 on Instagram and at the Mayor Max website. Long may he reign!