NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) — Waiting to hear back from the Guinness World Records people is the hardest part about submitting her 26-year-old mixed terrier as the world's oldest dog, Janelle Derouen says.
She does confess to some anxiety about whether Max — who, if you go for the old multiply-by-seven calculation, is about the equivalent of a 182-year-old human — will survive until the confirmation papers arrive.
Derouen said she is awaiting word from Guinness, after faxing papers that included a veterinarian's record of Max's birth and puppy shots in August 1983.
He's already five years older than Chanel, a dachshund that held the title until her death this past summer at the age of 21.
But there's a lot of competition for top old dog. "We've gotten a lot of claims since Chanel died. I would say hundreds," Jamie Panas, a spokeswoman for Guinness World Records in New York, said Thursday. "And right now we don't have that confirmed."
When all topics are counted, she said, a thousand claims a week come in.
Max, who weighs about 16 pounds, shares home and attention with Murphy, a 4-year-old mixed-Pomeranian.
These days Max is 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 is even older than some of Derouen's five children, who range in age from 21 to 30.
He has a touch of arthritis, one missing tooth, a bit of gray fur, and cataracts. He wears aviator-style goggles when he goes outside to protect his eyes.
He has been featured in the London Daily Telegraph and on a Lafayette television station.
"He did a big yawn on TV," Derouen recalled. "He's not letting it go to his head."
Max still expects to be in the car every time it leaves the driveway, enjoying the wind on his face. He also gets a little animated when he sees the neighbor's black cat. Other than that, it's back to the couch.
Derouen threw a big party on Aug. 9, when Max turned 26. Friends came with their dogs decked out to the nines — Max wore his New Orleans Saints jersey and collar — and 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."
Aside from that party, Max has eaten kibble all his life, Derouen said.
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."
She has planned it: a eulogy, singing, and a headstone. And an obituary published in the local paper.
"I already have the picture and all," she said.
Max just dozes away on his couch, waiting for another ride.
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