When Janelle DeRouen of New Iberia, La., heard about Chanel, the 21-year-old pooch who made headlines recently for being the world's oldest dog, she knew she had to set the record straight. After all, she's the mother of Max, a terrier mix who celebrated his 26th birthday at home on Aug. 9.
After getting in touch with the Guinness World Records and giving them vital stats about "her baby" Max, who is 182 in dog years, the dog is a major contender for the title. So, at Max's 26th birthday bash on Sunday, there was definitely much to celebrate. "We had a gift table set up. He had other little doggie friends over," DeRouen tells PEOPLE Pets. "Me and my husband [got] him his own little sofa bed. He has his own little couch now."
Born in 1983, the "active" geriatric dog hasn't had many health problems over the years, says DeRouen, who first told her story to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph. "The only time I had to bring him to the vet for something serious was for a tooth to be extracted. But that's it," she says. In recent years, he's had a few expected aliments. "He is starting to get cataracts, a little arthritis, but otherwise he's healthy."
DeRouen, who's a patient services coordinator at a neurologist's office, says the dog's longevity is a mystery to her. "I'm still wondering," she says. "I don't feed him any type of table food. He started on Puppy Chow as a puppy and has been eating Kibbles 'n Bits for the last 15 years."
Max was the runt of a litter of five or six puppies when DeRouen adopted him. "Something drew me to him and we've been together ever since," she says. And the pup, along with his little brother Murphy, 4, a Pomeranian mix, is a treasured member of the family. "My kids are all grown, I have five kids. Two sons, three daughters and 11 grandkids," says DeRouen. "And now all the grandkids are playing with him."
At Max's birthday bash on Sunday, friends and family all gathered to pay tribute to the special dog. "He was chewing on his little birthday cake that was made of cream cheese and peanut butter," says DeRouen. "He was thrilled."