I returned home yesterday from a visit to the University of Miami (as I noted yesterday) and I arrived home just in time to say goodbye to our 10-year old German Shepherd, Max (officially: Maximilian Bear Weeks). He died of cancer that had metastasized from his spleen to his lungs. The cancer was diagnosed exactly three months ago, but it was far too advanced to do anything except try to extend his life for as long as possible with powerful human drugs that our vet phoned in to our local Rite-Aid. When he died, Max weighed 120 pounds, about 20 pounds over his usual adult weight of 100 pounds, due especially to the prednisone he was taking. The sad truth is that larger dogs have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs, and as with most mammals, males have a shorter life expectancy than females. As always when it comes to lifespan and life expectancy there is a certain amount of confusion about which is which. Dogs are like humans in that most do not live close to their biological maximum (which is the lifespan). PetMD's website, however, has a set of data on life expectancy for dogs and it shows that 10 years is the average life expectancy for German Shepherds (both sexes combined). Their data also suggest that in "human years" a 10-year-old dog weighing over 90 pounds would be 77 years of age. That actually squares with how Max seemed on the day he died.
Max was a kind and gentle person, who lived peaceably with the birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc., who inhabit the certified wildlife habitat that is our yard. At the same time, his trainer, David Ruiz (who in an earlier era had trained German Shepherds for the U.S. military) assured us that you would not want to be the person who tried to invade our house when Max was home. With those he knew, however, he was a natural extrovert who had lots of friends and will be missed enormously.