By LAURA FAULK
Special to The Advocate
Sep 14, 2009
NEW IBERIA — Janelle Derouen’s 26-year-old Max, a mixed terrier that likes to lounge on the couch, may soon have survived his way into the record books.
Guinness World Records knows about Max, too, and is checking to see if he may indeed be the world’s oldest living dog.
Derouen said she has faxed the necessary papers to Guinness, and is awaiting its confirmation.
The waiting is the hardest part, she said, producing a veterinarian’s record of Max’s birth and puppy shots from when he was born in August 1983.
Chanel, a 21-year-old New York dachshund that formerly held the title of World’s Oldest Dog, died this past summer and Max is ready to officially assume the title — even though he was already five years older than Chanel.
These days Max is a little quieter than he was in his puppy years, but he is in relatively good health and likes to recline on a special leopard-print couch.
“Trust me,” Derouen said. “He doesn’t let anyone touch it, even his ‘brother.’ ”
Max, who weighs about 16 pounds, shares the house and the attention with Murphy, a mixed-Pomeranian who is 4 years old.
Max is even older than some of Derouen’s five children, who range in age from 21 to 30.
Max has a touch of mild arthritis, one missing tooth, a little bit of gray fur, and cataracts. He wears aviator-style goggles when he goes outside to protect his eyes.
Max was recently featured in the London Daily Telegraph, and had his picture taken by photojournalist Barry Bland. Despite his humble beginnings as the only brown puppy in a litter on a sugar-cane farm, Max has taken to his newfound fame without sticking his snout in the air.
“He did a big yawn on TV,” Derouen recalled from a recent feature on a Lafayette television. “He’s not letting it go to his head. He’s taking it all in stride. He’s enjoying the ride.”
There’s nothing particularly extraordinary — aside from his longevity — about Max. He likes to ride, and expects to be in the car every time it leaves the driveway. Derouen said Max, like most dogs, enjoys the feel of the wind on his face.
Max also gets a little animated when he sees the neighbor’s black cat. Other than that, it’s back to the couch.
Derouen said she has always fed him Kibbles & Bits since he outgrew Puppy Chow. She said that she tried to get Kibbles & Bits to pick up Max’s endorsement but all she got in reply was a coupon good for a 25-pound bag of dog food.
Max turned 26 on Aug. 9, and Derouen threw a big party. Friends came with their dogs decked out to the nines, and everyone had a good time. Max wore his New Orleans Saints jersey and collar, and he chowed down on a big peanut butter and cream cheese cake.
“Boy, he enjoyed it,” Derouen said of the cake. “It’s the first time he’d had a really big treat.”
Derouen said that Max has not otherwise eaten table food.
“People don’t understand, animals have feelings too,” Derouen said. “He likes to be loved like any other individual would be.”
Max is a neutered male, and he has lived most of his life in the house, only going outside occasionally to play and to do his business.
Derouen said she has some anxiety over whether she will receive the confirmation papers from Guinness before Max passes away.
He’s about 182 years old in dog years.
Veterinarian Andy Reaux of New Iberia has been Max’s vet for the last six months.
“It’s very unusual for a dog to be that old,” Reaux said. “The average age is like 13 or 14.”
“I just don’t know what I’m going to do when that day comes,” Derouen said. “I know I’m going to have a funeral.”
Derouen said that she plans to have a eulogy, singing, and a headstone ready for his funeral. She also plans to publish his obituary in the local paper.
“I already have the picture and all,” she said.
what does Max have to say about all this? Nothing, he just dozes away on his spot on the couch — waiting for another ride.