I took this photo of Max eight weeks ago in our backyard. Four weeks after taking this I was in Japan for the next four. Those weekly updates are significant in the life of Max as he approaches his natural end.
Labs have an average lifespan of ten to twelve years. Max will turn fifteen 5 August, a little more than three months from now.
Max is the fifth of six labs we’ve kept over the past 32 years as a couple (my wife has spent 35 starting with Rhett, her first). It was Rhett, a male yellow, who literally helped both our girls to learn to walk. He would stand in the middle of the floor as both girls would slowly, swayingly pull themselves up to stand, then Rhett would carefully walk with the girls using him as a living walker. He was so patient and the perfect family dog.
Rhett was in my life as soon as I went home to my future wife’s house. As soon as he laid eyes on me he knew he had a guy to walk him and do other physical fun activities with. He was best lab at our wedding, and went with us on our honeymoon. He traveled with us on vacations when it was possible. He loved car rides. He lived to be sixteen. The last thing he did was to eat some birthday cake. Which goes to prove that the last thing to go in a Lab is the stomach.
Since that time we’ve had a black female (Katie), a chocolate female (Babe), a black male (Spook, born on Halloween), Max, and Ruby, the youngest at six years.
Max was the most athletic of any Lab that’s ever lived with us. Max, in his prime, would out-walk and out-run anything on two or four feet. He was my walking companion who kept me fit and active. But Max slowed down over time, as well all do. Tonight, for the first time ever, he stayed on his resting pad in our TV room, gently sleeping.
Max still goes out constantly into our big back yard. But his desire to explore beyond the big back yard, I believe, is done. He still likes to walk out front and look around, and if another dog comes into the vicinity he takes notice. But he’s past the Energizer Bunny stage of his life.
That’s only fair. He’s been the most active, and has walked longer in his life, than any other lab. Rhett, who has the record for longevity at 16 years, stopped walking a good three years before he died. Who knows how long Max may live beyond this point. But still, it’s a sad point, and another reminder of all our fixed days in this world.
Tonight it was just Ruby and I on the walk. Both of us are going to have to get back into shape, because as long as Max wanted to go out for our walks, we walked at his pace, and his distance. I never had the heart to turn around on a second walk with just Ruby. I know my animals and it would have hurt Max. But that’s no longer an issue; Max has moved on.