Jun 24 2005
Well, if that ain’t a humdinger. To find out — on a bag of dog food of all places — that your pooch is a senior citizen. That’s what Purina says about my dog, Chase. She is at least 8 years old, and that must make her an old fart.
Dog food manufacturers, and maybe others, seem to think that 7 years or older starts the beginning of the “age.” To me that’s when dogs are in their prime.
For that matter, if you apply the 7-dog-years-to-1-human-year ratio, any of our breed 49 or older is also a senior, and needs to be put on this specially formulated diet with added fiber, crude fat and chicken by-product. Hate to be the bearer of bad news.
I found this all recently while researching dog food. I wanted to make sure I was feeding Chase the best there is. I wanted food that was good for her joints, would keep her sturdy and strong, would make her coat shine like a newly polished car, wouldn’t let her eyesight sag and, most importantly, wouldn’t make her throw up all over our rug like the last time we switched food. Personally, I found her food a little grainy, and it didn’t go well with milk.
So I researched, and WHAM!
Naw. that dog has more energy than shaken plutonium and can still drool with the best of them.
Yet, Purina calls her a “senior dog.” Iams calls her “actively mature.” Actively mature? Is that opposed to “Lazy lard-butt immature” or “self-important, upwardly mobile senior”? Maybe “Upper crust unwieldy snorts-too-much elderly”?
Let’s not sugar coat it. Why not call the food “Grandpa nuggets.”
Fine, she’s getting up there in years, but I don’t want my dog getting old, or some dog food company telling me it’s happening without my permission. I can’t picture her one day with a walker and fake teeth talking about the “olden” days when squirrels used to slip her money so she wouldn’t chase them.
“I tell you, sonny, it was a much safer world back then. You could use the bathroom wherever you wanted and nobody made you pick it up in a plastic bag.”
She’s still so energetic and spry that most people often mistake her for a puppy. Well, until they get close enough to catch a whiff of her breath, or she curses like a sailor.
I always pictured her one day taking care of me. That she would help me down the steps at my house when I’m older and hold my arm for support. Then she would catch sight of lizard, leap over the railing, and leave me to fold up like a wrinkled shirt.
By no means is she ready to be put out to pasture. She can still leap higher than I can, run faster than wild horses and in defense of her math skills, she has never once been audited by the IRS.
But there is a bit more gray in her face and she spends more of her time doing crosswords these days. She does like to take her dinner earlier in the evening.
Oh, it’s not easy watching anyone grow older, and no easier when it’s a pet. She’s my kid! She can’t be older than me, and maturity? I’ve seem dead leaves that are more mature than she is.
We asked our vet, Dr. Nicholas, whether we should start doing anything different with her as she ages ungracefully. Maybe not let her jump so much, or stop her from climbing trees.
“It’s better to wear out than to rust out,” I think he said, and it’s good advice for all of us, dog included.
So we’ll switch her to the “seniors” diet and wait for her AARP card to arrive in the mail. Aging is something we all have to come to terms, and we’ll do it with her, too. But watch out lizards, that dog still has a lot left in her yet.