IDYLLWILD, CA (KMIR/CNN) – One golden retriever is more than man's best friend – he's the town mayor.
His name is Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller II, but the people of Idyllwild, CA, know him as "Mayor Max."
You can find Mayor Max cruising around town in his personalized pickup truck to hobnob with constituents – but don't worry, he doesn't drive himself.
Phyllis Mueller, Mayor Max's chief of staff, helps her furry friend rub elbows, usually giving away business cards and small stuffed animals to the people she and Max meet.
She also helps the mayor with the day-to-day office work.
"My role as the chief of staff is to help run the vision for what is the mayor's office for Idyllwild, so we actually run a real mayor's office for Idyllwild," Mueller said.
Mueller and Max make public appearances every day to interact with the community, attracting locals and tourists.
"Max is awesome. He's super friendly. He lets my son give him treats," said Andrea Valadez, an Idyllwild visitor.
Mayor Max has been in office for five years, and will hold his ceremonial role for his lifetime. But how did a dog become mayor in the first place?
Because it's a non-incorporated town, Idyllwild has no actual human mayor. In 2012, the nonprofit Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends decided to sponsor the town's first mayoral election, in which local residents were allowed to nominate their dogs or cats for office.
It was Max's uncle, a Golden retriever also named Max, who became the first "mayor" of Idyllwild in 2012.
"So, six years ago, Idyllwild decided to elect its first mayor. And you had to be a local resident, but you couldn't run yourself. You could run your pet," Mueller said. "In a voted election, 14 dogs and two cats ran, and we decided to have an election to raise money for animal rescue. So, you paid a dollar a vote, and you were encouraged to vote a lot."
After the first Mayor Max died in 2013, the town decided to vote in the current Mayor Max, who was only a puppy at the time.
"His charter is to help make the world a better place by conveying unconditional love and doing as many good deeds for others as possible," Mueller said.
Mayor Max and his deputies, who are also golden retrievers, attend fundraisers and other events in town all year round.