Golden Retrievers Have Been The Mayor Of This Town For Over A Decade

October 2, 2023

For the last decade, a small town in Southern California's mountains has seen three generations of golden retrievers serve as mayors.

Meet Mayor Max III - whose full name is Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller III.


A post shared by Mayor Max (@mayormax1)

It all started when Phyllis Mueller and her husband moved to Idyllwild, California in 2011. Since Idyllwild is an unincorporated town, it had no mayor or elected officials. Soon after their arrival, the town's animal rescue center, Animal Rescue Friends, announced that it would be holding Idyllwild's first-ever election.

Mueller, who has been a golden retriever owner since 1984, saw the timing as divine. She was sure if anything on this Earth could achieve world peace, it was a golden retriever.

The town's first mayoral election drew 14 dogs and two cat contenders. Mueller campaigned hard for Max I, who won the election by a landslide.

Although the election initially aimed to serve as a lighthearted fundraiser for the animal rescue center, Mueller and her husband chose to approach their dog's tenure in office with a serious commitment to doing some good.

"This is an opportunity to be the real mayor of Idyllwild and do the real job, but without politics," Mueller told The Washington Post. "He loves everybody unconditionally. It's nonpartisan; it's nonpolitical. I'm going with it."

Mayor Max I quickly became a local celebrity, making appearances at weddings, schools, hospitals, birthday parties and nursing homes. He had a unique charm, connecting with people through eye contact, handshakes, and a charismatic tail wag.

mayor max the dog
Credit: Mayor Max / Facebook

Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer in 2013, and Max II took over.

Max II's term also ended due to health issues, but the impact of the mayoral role became evident during his passing. Messages poured in from around the world, with people crediting him with helping them through difficult times, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspired by the outpouring of support, Mueller and Warren decided to find a successor, leading them to Mayor Max III.

Mueller's four golden retrievers play various roles on Mayor Max's "staff," serving as deputy co-mayors, security detail, and even the vice mayor.

And since they all dress the part, Mueller has had to buy a lot of ties - which they all have a habit of chewing.

"He ate three of them during his first month in office," she said of Mayor Max III.

Mueller is determined to keep the mayors in office for as long as she lives.

"With the mayors, I want to remind people that there is good in the world. Every day, people do good things. These dogs here, they are living angels, and they love you with all their heart," she told The Guardian.

"People can't get enough of being with the dogs and getting pictures of them and petting them. It just makes them very happy, which is the payback for doing it."

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