Horizon at Sandy Point

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Adventures of Max the Brave

Carnival Monday 2002, Max leaps over the low wall of the house on Princess Margaret Avenue and heads directly to the Diego Martin highway. The son - shirtless and barefoot in the yard - gives chase.  Max is glanced by a speeding car, gets up runs again when he is hit sideways by another car. In less than a minute, he is up and running along the highway diving into a big drain as his chaser is joined by two on bikes. They have run miles by the time Max is cornered exhausted. Then the long trek back  to the house and a visit to the vet who says, "You have a hard head, old boy! Looks like you'll live to run another day!"
Oka (standing) and Max

If we made a movie of the exploits of Max, it would cover numerous escapades "beyond the fence." In Santa Cruz, he has been lost for days. He has climbed hill and dale to join other dogs around a bitch in heat in one of the many quarries. He has been dog-napped twice; each time accompanied by Sheeba the lagahoo toad-licker who was his "let's go out of the yard" sidekick. The dognapper who had both dogs tied up in a yard across the valley claimed that he was keeping them safe. Max and Sheeba were gone for nine days. His mate Oka - who adored Max - was usually too coward to leave the homestead.

Max loved water and the beach: at Las Cuevas

Within the yard, these two would lead the hunt. They couldn't reach the manicou which would walk along the top of the fence, or the agouti which could run swiftly through the bars in the gate. But the iguanas were particularly vulnerable. In one long dry season, he lay three large ones at the back door.

A year or so ago, Max ran out to a grudge match with a neighborhood dog. They had been having regular bark outs. So it must have seemed like a fine time to settle the score. The other barker - tied in a fenceless yard - was a pitbull. He held on to Max's ear and would not let go. Dripping blood from a shredded ear, Max still looked like he was grinning! It was around this time that we were realising that Max was going blind: one eye was cloudy the other glassy. He was prone to "colds in the neck" which was helped with cod liver oil. He never bumped into things and always knew who was nearby but he became an inveterate barker. However fit he looked - he was almost 13 (in his seventies in human terms) - time was running on.

Born to the white Labrador Charlie and a neighbouring Rottweiler in Minshall's yard in Federation Park, Max "Maximilian Maximus" came to us in late 1999. The daughter went with me to pick one of the litter, all short stout puppies with jet black coats that hung around their bones two sizes too big. Which one? This one, Mom, this one, he keeps following me around!

One of Max's puppies

Miss (Liz) Taylor, white Lab-Rott, at four weeks,
grand-daughter of Minshall's Charlie

Max lived with us in two valleys, Santa Cruz and Diego Martin. He became an adult in October 2001 when the family was split apart by surgery for cancer. So he went to a friend whose family doted on him. With Yoda - the wild dog that was saved from a drain in Barataria - he had three litters, each more abundant that the last (eight, eleven, thirteen pups). With Oka - a Lab-Rott just like him - he also had three litters. One of Oka's puppies went back to live in the Minshall household: Miss Elizabeth Taylor a white Lab-Rott was the mother of Minshall's "eleven black ninjas."

In the last year, as the new dog is growing to adulthood, Max likes him less and less. Their fights become more frequent more vicious. Max always seems to inflict more damage - puncture wounds to the forelegs. But it is the ticking crocodile that does him in.  During the last of these encounters  his great heart gives out and he's gone to chase agoutis in neverland.

Max (sitting up) 

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