Thursday – Old Dog Friends

[date Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 11:47 AM]


This is Max. He is Nancy’s dog (neighbor to the east). A typical example of Yellow Lab excellence. This picture was taken to record the 26th snow clearing of 2008 (I’m at 10 snows and 8 clearings so far this winter). Max, being a lab, came over to help out, and see if there might be a treat lying around:

Max was over 12 years old then: his time has come. He is incontinent,more or less deaf, and his sight is failing. His hips are a source of pain and instability. He no longer recognizes me. True to his breed, his magnificent nose still works well – he hobbles over to check out the usual “caches” of scraps and food that I used to leave out for him. His incontinence has made me reluctant to do so.

I didn’t include a recent picture because he’s not that handsome now.

This morning I looked up a table for life expectancy of common dog breeds. According to Nancy, Max is well past 14 years. Here’s a link to a table. It may surprise you to know the expected longevity of your favorite dog: – page two has the table.

For the retrievers, it is about 12.5 years, or as this table states 10 – 14 years. At another web page, I was shocked to see that Irish Wolfhounds can only expect 6+ years!

Because our family dog Belle was also a yellow lab, I thought to refresh my memory on their characteristics by looking up information about the breed. Everything they described was as I remember Belle – great family dogs, excellent with children of all ages, companions, fanatical fetchers, and a tendency to eat without satiation.

Then I stumbled onto an article about a yellow lab named Endal. His story is amazing! Here’s a link to Wikipedia:

Endal was a companion / service dog trained to help Allen Parton, who was wounded severely in the Gulf War. Here is a brief video clip of both of them just before Endal’s death:

A short passage from the Wikipedia article about this incredible animal – Endal was able to respond to over one hundred instructions[16] as well as a very large number (“hundreds”) of signed commands.[17] He could retrieve items from supermarket shelves,[18][19] He was able to put a card into an automated teller machine, retrieve the card when the process was complete, and return the card to a wallet.[20][21] operate buttons and switches, and load and empty a washing machine.

“When I couldn’t talk, he learned sign language – if I touched my head I wanted my hat, if I touched my face it was for the razor. He learned hundreds of commands in signing. Eventually one day, in this very silent world we lived in, I grunted. That was like an electric shock going through him, he was so excited. They said I’d never speak again, but Endal just dragged the speech out of me.” Able Magazine.[17]

The above Able Magazine article continues by noting that “Over the years, Endal has learned to pull the plug out of the bath before going for help if Allen falls unconscious whilst bathing, and is able to put Allen in the recovery position, hit the emergency button on the telephone and summon help … Endal has learned how to use cash and chip and pin machines, as well as helping out with the shopping, opening train doors, operating lifts, unloading the washing machine and more typical doggie skills like getting the paper.”[17]

Parton states that Endal’s ability to comprehend his wishes and needs showed when they first met, and was responsible for helping him recover from the initial deep depression and trauma caused by his disability.[1]

Endal came again to national attention in a 2001 incident, when Allen was knocked out of his wheelchair by a passing car. Endal pulled Allen, who was unconscious, into the recovery position, retrieved his mobile phone from beneath the car, fetched a blanket and covered him, barked at nearby dwellings for assistance, and then ran to a nearby hotel to obtain help.[22]

Endal is also:

  • The first dog to ride on the London Eye.[23]
  • The first dog known to be able to operate a Chip and PIN ATM card, including both card insertion and card removal.[24]

An amazing dog, and an example of the yellow lab at it’s best.

I expect Max won’t live out the winter. It is time to put him down.

To all you dog lovers out there, raise a glass to all the dogs you’ve loved.

For me, there is no better breed than the Labrador retriever.

There is another affliction that is as negative as the love of dogs is positive. Right! That affliction is for the love of cats.

Some of you have cats, and you always state the same reasons. For me, they have only one function….. as Darryl used to say “ball-bearing mouse trap!”

The following link will take you to a short movie titled “Cat Shit One”.

The alternate title is “Apocalypse Meow”. Excellent computer animation. Excellent story – the bad guys get theirs.

I didn’t see any cats. Or cat shit.

Must be a Japanese thingy…..

A mild (1 above) gray, cloud covered Okanagan day……

Joe (Labman) Mekanic
p.s. Ramirez animal cartoons are scarce. These will have to do….




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