EDITORIAL

What happens when you’re the same age as your dog?

Posted 10/28/21

I knew from the steps on the stairs it was Ollie.

He bounded into the room.

Surely he had something important to say. He nudged my arm. I looked down from the computer screen into his brown …

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EDITORIAL

What happens when you’re the same age as your dog?

Posted

I knew from the steps on the stairs it was Ollie.

He bounded into the room.

Surely he had something important to say. He nudged my arm. I looked down from the computer screen into his brown eyes. Stroked his ears.

He shook his head. He wasn’t looking to be petted. Indeed, this was something more important. As quickly he turned and bolted from the room.

My gaze returned to the screen. I glanced at the time in the lower right corner. It read 5:00 p.m. How did he know it was 5 and time for dinner? But then I keep learning there’s more to learn from and about our canine companion.

It’s said that a year of a human’s life is equivalent to seven years of dog life. This puts Carol and me a little older than Ollie, but he’s catching up.

Like the two of us, he’s slowing down a bit and he’s grown fussy about what he likes.

He’s not crotchety yet.

Walks with Ollie used to be a tug of war. Whether covering familiar turf or the first time down a wooded path,

Ollie had to be in the lead.

There was no telling where he’d go. Often it was diagonal to the trail to reach a tree that he’d christen and then it was in the opposite direction to greet another walker, always straining on the leash. It was new to him and exciting.

We learned quickly that if he slipped his collar, he’d be gone. I like to believe he wasn’t looking to escape, but rather like a kid in a toy store excited about taking it all. It was an adventure for him and angst for us. Ollie is no longer a kid.

He’s matured. He’s deliberative and purposeful. And, I suppose the same can be said for the two of us, although I can only imagine what he finds so intriguing about sniffing the circumference of a tree before dismissing the scene with a lift of his leg.

Walks are slower paced and intense. He knows what he wants.

Saturday night he found us sitting on the living room couch. Deciding he wanted to be included, he nuzzled my leg, which we’ve taken to be a demonstration of affection.

He looked at both of us then headed for “his” chair.

He climbed on to the cushion and started circling as dogs do before bedding down. He made a couple of rounds, stopped and looked at us. He was still standing. Carol got the message.

“I need to straighten it out,” she said.

I looked over. The blanket covering the chair was bunched up.

Ollie obliged. He stepped off the chair and waited for her to smooth out the blanket before climbing back up. Only now would he lie down.

He knows what’s expected of him, too. For the longest time, Ollie would pace between us as we ate dinner.

We tried admonishing him for begging and drooling as he watched every fork full.

Our efforts were futile. It had me wondering if he is losing his hearing. Ollie rarely responded to verbal commands, which I chalked up to his streak of independence and selective hearing.

Lately, he’s watched us much more closely, sometimes staring blankly. That’s not the Ollie that was always ready to go until he decided it was time for a break.

To his delight – he’d get excited as soon as we pulled into the parking lot – we’d take him to doggie day care when it was too much to take him along. The reports we’d get is that the smaller dogs loved him and that they’d pile on him. This would go on until Ollie tired and simply laid down in the middle of the room and go to sleep.

Those days have gone and so has his interest in other dogs.

He watches us closely.

I’ve learned where words failed, a simple gesture is a great form of communication.

At the dinner table I now point to the floor. He understands, sliding back on his haunches with front legs extendedand head raised, Sphinx-like. There is no drooling, thankfully. He watches closely, knowing when we finish he gets to lick the plates.

Getting him in from his yard romps – he wears an invisible fence collar that keeps him from leaving the yard and a bell so we know where to find him – was once a matter of clapping and yelling “dinner.” It worked about 50 percent of the time because Ollie was more interested in sniffing than dinner the rest of the time.

Today Carol uses a wave to let him know it’s dinner time and he comes running.

But it’s more likely that he’ll tell us when it’s 5 p.m.

I wonder how he’ll adjust to standard time.

Perhaps, like the rest of us, it will just be an extra hour of sleep.

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