Max is the longest relationship I've ever had and one of the biggest influences in my life. Together we ventured into the new-to-both-of-us worlds of conformation, agility, obedience and nosework and formed a team/partnership that rivals anything I've ever experienced. He's got a laundry list of titles before and after his name - the meaning there is not in racking up one more piece of paper from an organization but in the time invested to learn how to be a team and challenge ourselves doing something fun. He was NOT an easy puppy for a first-time owner/handler but we muddled on through, learned from our mistakes and developed an easy bond that now means we can read each other's thoughts and intentions with a small bit of body language or expression.
Max is quite the benevolent alpha with other dogs and has schooled every dog that's been a part of this family as to what constitutes proper play and interaction and what qualifies as "too much fun." He's set the standard that every dog I own will have to live up to!
As an only dog with me for his puppyhood, Max was far too serious for such a young beardie. He was the reason Jeff and Cujo came into our lives and he embraced Jeff as one of his favorite humans from the get-go. The addition of Stanley five years ago came during Max's working prime - the chase for his MACH title - and he was all business with the goofy puppy. When Jeff lost Cujo almost a year ago, it was as if Max sensed what his next job needed to be and he devoted an inordinate amount of attention to accompanying Jeff everywhere and keeping him company. I've had the greatest joy of watching Max experience a 2nd puppyhood since the arrival of Puck five months ago as he's turned into the most playful dog in the house, firmly but lovingly instructing the puppy on proper behavior and playing with him all day, every day!
And so with that, I wish the original muppet the happiest of birthdays and promise him lots of cookies and walks to celebrate his special day.