Max is a 5-year-old mix of Australian shepherd, German shepherd, Border collie, Labrador and wolf. His owner, Nick Schulte, described him as “five kinds of brilliant and 82 pounds of stupid.”
Max likes to go for swims in the Reflecting Pond.
On April 1, Schulte, a 24-year-old UCF alumnus, brought Max to campus to let him cool off in the pond. Max swam around, played fetch, and even perched on the ledge around the center of the fountain to attack the jets of water. Max turned heads, inspired giggles from passersby, and made several appearances on the UCF Snapchat story.
According to Schulte, Max is his registered emotional support animal.
“When I was in college and I found him, [Max] helped me keep my stress from boiling over into a depression,” Schulte said. “One time, it got so overboard that he … took a gun out of my hand.”
With the beginnings of tears in his eyes and a fond chuckle as he watched his dog’s antics, Schulte said he found Max behind a Chick-fil-A dumpster in Gainesville.
“He was beaten pretty bad,” Schulte said. “He was three months old and he had a broken paw, his eyes were beaten shut, [and] there were Taser marks, scratches [and] bruises. According to the vet, [the Taser marks were] from someone trying to see if he would be an aggressive fight dog.”
Schulte said he brings Max to campus to help him in social situations where there are many people.
“He’s been terrible with strangers. I’ve been bringing him out here for the last few months to make sure he can realize people don’t want to hurt him,” Schulte said.
Although UCF regulation 4.029 states that the use of certain outdoor areas, including the Reflecting Pond, must be scheduled in advance, there are no university rules or regulations that specifically prohibit pets or animals from entering the Reflecting Pond.
“I love this. I’m a total dog person,” Nikita Johannes, a junior health Information major, said of Max as she watched him frolic in the fountain. “If I brought [my dogs] here I would do this all the time … my dad actually used to come here, and he said he wished he saw dogs [around the campus].”
Bryn Taylor, a freshman from Cocoa majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, expressed a similar sentiment.
“I wish I was a tenth as happy as this dog,” Taylor said.
Alex Storer is a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future.