My little dachshund dog is old. B.J. was a rescue so I am not 100% sure of his exact age but I believe in ‘people years’ he is somewhere between 105 and Methuselah squared. He is fairly blind, mostly deaf, can’t smell too well, has a weak back paw, a bad hip, constantly grunts loudly because he can’t hear himself and is more than a little bit incontinent. But besides that, he is in perfect puppy health.
I try not to laugh too hard when he walks into the closed screen door, trips over his own paws or falls aimlessly into the pool. I don’t get too mad when he has an accident in the house; I figure it’s my fault since I don’t have the heart to make him wear the embarrassing doggie diapers with pastel paw print pictures I purchased months ago after a particularly messy three-pair of socks weekend that tested my patience as well as the water resistance of my wood floors. Although often more stiff, confused, tired and persistent than he used to be, he seems to have adapted well to the changes in his pooch body, does not appear frustrated with his limitations and still seems happily content with his world.
He is part of the family so my wife and I deal with it. Besides it’s nice bot being the only one in the house that has more grey facial then not. I just hope karma is a real thing because I sure wish to have a similar mix of dignity and self-deprecation if I get to his advanced age. I know all of you can close your eyes and easily picture a wobbly very old Depends-wearing decrepit Dan with giant thick over-sized glasses falling into the pool. And yes, I know you would laugh. And of course, I would not have it any other way. All I ask is for a modicum of respect when you fish me out of the drink.
Since the wife and I don’t have children, I know we put more emphasis on our pets than reproducers do. I’ve seen that parenting instinct substitution many times before. I was only 18 the first time I really noticed it. An older woman I worked with had a pet canary that was more spoiled than Veruca Salt. Years earlier the woman had been a chorus girl / dancer on numerous CBS television variety shows throughout the 1950s and 60s. During that time she met and married a dapper network news reporter. Neither had any desire to put their fun fulfilling lives hold to properly raise children.
We talked several times about it and aside from the rare hormonal-driven emotional pang she had no real regrets about her childless choices. That was a good lesson for me to learn at that age. The world might be a much better place if it were filled with people that had children because they wanted to versus the societal and religious pressures to. Of course that does not account for all us oopses out there.
I really enjoyed talking about life with my kid-less co-worker but I had a hard time getting past that whole overly pampered bird thing. It was not the transposed love from child to pet issue but more that I am just not a bird guy. Not having kids made perfect sense, putting that energy towards a feathered flying rat did not. Watching her coddle and dote on that thing kinda creeped me out.
I have mentioned before that my folks briefly had a pet bird. He was horrid. A bright yellow sunny-faced cockatiel with cheery little orange circles on its cheeks that might have looked all sweet but the little bastard was like that clown from the Stephen King novel, all jolly happy looking on the outside but pure evil inside!
He’d make unearthly guttural groans at me when I walked by like he was possessed by an aviary demon and then it would try to peck at me whenever I got close. I envisioned him gouging my eyes out and picking the flesh off my bones in an attack far worse than anything Alfred Hitchcock dreamed up in The Birds.
I know some dog people out there look at my megga-spoiled cats with the same suspect eye as I did that woman’s bird, so I understand the differing of opinions. It’s okay that she showered parental-like love on a freaky flying fowl-family egg-laying vertebrate but its not for me. If I’m playing that game I’m sticking with four-legged domesticated animals.
Caring for an elderly pup, like a human, is a lot of extra work. It can be difficult and frustrating but I will take it over the alternative for as long as possible.