It’s a Dog’s Life – November 2018
Happy Birthday to Rolo the Border Terrier! He is turning 16, or about 80 in dog years, a ripe old age indeed
November hosts a number of significant events, not least of which is my birthday! I shall be sixteen this time, which makes me a very senior dog, so like many of advancing years, I’d like to pass on some advice.
Firstly, I’d like to point out that old age isn’t an illness, it’s a life stage, so anybody who treats me like some doddery old boy who doesn’t know his snout from his waggy end, is in for a bit of a shock. I might have silver fur, but underneath, I’m the same old rascal I’ve always been and I like to flatter myself that I never knowingly pass over an opportunity for bad behaviour. At least these days I can’t hear ‘Them Indoors’ telling me off and the rude names that they tend to attach to me, which are often in recent years, prefaced with the word ‘old’. ‘Senior’ is much more gentile and distinguished.
Secondly, they say that to grow old is to witness the reduction of limitless possibilities, or to put it another way, you start to run out of ‘firsts’, but don’t let this cramp your style. However many things you’ve done with your life there are always new things to bark at, new edibles or not quite edibles to eat, and fresh adventures to have. I’ve done lots of things since I reached double figures: winning rosettes at dog shows, making guest appearances on the radio, doing book signings, riding in a backpack and a buggy, there is a long and increasing list.
Thirdly, get staff! I have ‘Her Indoors’ waiting on me hand and foot, worrying over any little ailments, and making sure I’m getting my fair share of treats and life’s comforts. Then I’ve got my apprentice Teddy. It’s surprisingly useful to have a younger set of paws to deploy tactically. He’s my outrider when I’m out in my buggy and I despatch him to exercise ‘Her Indoors’ when the weather is too inclement for a dog of my age. She needs the exercise, what can I tell you. He also hears things that I can’t and starts barking, so that I can join in and save ‘Them Indoors’ from the evils of the Amazon delivery, the refuse collection, or any unattributed little noise that attracts our attention. The other night, when we were out for our late-night garden visit, I found an intruder of a feline disposition. I sounded the alarm, which I’m sure our neighbours appreciated, and then got Teddy to escort the little blighter off our property. He’s got younger legs and a sturdier presence.
And finally, exploit your age shamelessly. Cuteness might belong to puppies, but I can deploy a pair of appealing eyes and a fine set of eyebrows as well as the best of them. You may have heard the expression ‘silver fox’ but why should foxes have all the fun? After all, life is for enjoying whatever your age.