My dog Cookie is 13 years old, which moves her into the stage of life we call Senior Dogitude. Well, maybe that’s not the precise veterinary term.
But it’s closer than the other phrase I am using for her current status: Weird Old Lady.
She’s forgetful. Often she’ll stand at the back door, asking to go out and, upon getting her wish, do one of two things: Turn around and go back to her bed, or go out onto the back porch and stand there looking around until you remind her to do some business.
Then she gets this “Oh, yeah, now I remember” look on her face, completes the mission and then finds a million things to distract her on the way back to the house.
She’s possessive. Her water dish is her favorite thing in the world, and she is not at all happy that the two cats, Charlie and Maynard, have decided Cookie’s water is the best in the house (with the possible exception of the drips coming from the leaky faucet in the bathroom).
Cookie also has decided that she loves catnip toys. It’s not uncommon to see her walking through the house with a catnip mouse hanging from her teeth. Weird. Or perhaps she’s just getting even over the water dish thing.
She’s argumentative. If she comes up to you demanding the last bite of your pizza crust, and you tell her no, be ready to defend your position against a barrage of whines, growls, barks, grumbles, squeaks and mutters, not to mention the clackety-clack jaw action I like to call dog castanets.
She’s gassy. Whoever coined the phrase “ripe old age” must have had a dog, because ripe is exactly the right word.
And diet seems to make no difference.
No matter what she eats, whether the typical canine garbage diet or the super-premium Golden Age Formula dog food, it turns instantly to methane — lots and lots of it, too, and of the stinkiest variety. Remember a few days back when the temperature was down around zero Fahrenheit?
Cookie was in my office, sound asleep, floating dog biscuits. I had to open the windows.
So, let’s add it up: Forgetful, possessive, argumentative, gassy.
Cookie is behaving exactly like my mother.
Well, maybe not exactly. As far as I know, Mom is not inclined to drink from the toilet when her water dish is empty, and neither is she known to snack on cat food. Other than that, though, the similarities are remarkable, except Cookie spends her days sleeping, while Mom watches basketball. They both, however, are fond of barking at passers-by.
I must admit I have found myself somewhat unprepared for the challenges of Senior Dogitude or, for that matter, Senior Momitude. Cookie is a big girl, about 80 pounds, and the standard rule of thumb says big dogs don’t live as long as smaller ones. At 13 and healthy, Cookie is pushing the envelope.
And as for Mom, I suppose no kid (and we’re all kids, no matter our age) is completely prepared to see a parent grow old. The lucky thing for me, I guess, is that Mom has always been forgetful, possessive, argumentative and gassy, so it’s not too much of a shock.
They’re Weird Old Ladies, yes. But they’re my Weird Old Ladies. And I love them.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.