Max was born the day after 911. I bought him from a very large kennel in Colorado where they boasted “Avalon Labradors.” Avalon labs come from various states and boast the purest of Yellow Labrador Bloodlines. Max is from the famous “Tanker,” who achieved over 500 FC/AFC Field Trial Champions in his bloodlines. Therefore, Max is pretty smart and has an innate desire to fetch over and over again. He began doing this without any training from the young age of 7 weeks old.
I trained Max to pick things up and hand them back to the “dropper” when he was 10 months old. He also learned to “bring me the paper” in two ways. I could open the front door, say, “bring me the paper,” and he’d roust around the front yard until he found the Longmont Times-Call. If he DIDN’T find the Longmont-Times Call, he would “steal” my neighbor’s paper and bring it in. So either way, I won.
The other way I taught Max to bring me the paper was if I was sitting on the toilet and ran out, he would OPEN the cabinet, take the paper in his jowls and bring me a roll. As you know, Labradors, can catch a duck and bring it back unharmed. He never bit the toilet paper roll, nor did he drool on it. It arrived fresh and ready to be used.
I took Max into Saxs 5th avenue to shop and no one ever said anything. He learned to ride in an elevator to the floors and to behave like the gentleman he always is. When he went into eating establishments with me, he’d quietly “make himself small” and hide under my seat. He wouldn’t move a muscle until I got up.
American Airlines gave him his own seat when I went to visit my parents in Texas, and he looked out the window the whole time watching the clouds. He never moved from his seat and appeared mesmerized. I always wondered what he was thinking when he would be so still and so intelligent-looking.
I used to take him to the lake a lot when he was younger, and I threw a stick into the middle of McIntosh Lake one day, but Max couldn’t find it. Neither would he be called back to shore without it. I finally picked up another stick and threw it behind him calling, “Max, there it is, there it is!” He grabbed it and came back. It was an hour before he would finally come back to shore. My heart wouldn’t stop pounding.
Max is no trouble at all. A few months ago when he was electrocuted, (a cord which hooked to a Hotspot in our home) he became agitated and then a month later, began having violent seizures. Thanks to Advanced Animal Care in Fort Collins, Colorado, Max is now taking 3 ML of Potassium Bromide a day and is doing fine. The seizures have ceased and he is back to playing fetch whenever he can. If someone would tirelessly throw the ball for him a hundred times, he’d always bring it back. It’s what he loves.
After all this time, over a decade of my life, Max has quietly stood by my side and simply “cared.” It’s difficult to think of the day he won’t be here anymore, but I know when that day comes, he won’t owe me one minute more.