For a while, I was pretty sure I was turning into my dad — you know, dress socks with jeans and sneakers, and falling asleep on the couch watching sports.
Turns out, I’m turning into my dog.
Our old dog, Peanut, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 years old. We’re exactly sure, because she was already full-grown when we adopted her 13 years ago. Whatever her age, she is an old dog. She is sort of a funny looking dog, a mix of husky and shar-pei, as close as we can figure, though if you look at her long enough, you can pick out another half-dozen breeds.
We got Peanut before we had kids, so she at one point was used to getting more attention than she does now. Once you have kids, your dogs — though still beloved members of the family — kind of go back to being dogs.
Peanut is in really great shape for an old dog. She still runs around in the back yard with the other dogs, and loves her daily walks.
But she is starting to do some of those old-dog things. Her naps after her walks are much longer. She sometimes wakes up in the wee hours needing to go out. At times, she’ll just wander around the house, like she forgot what it was she was looking for. She has become rather insistent on getting her meals at specific times, so much so that I think she can read a clock, because at 5 o’clock on the dot, she will insist that we stop whatever we are doing and fill her dinner bowl. And if we try to sleep through breakfast time — well, let’s just say she hasn’t let us do that in years.
She has started this odd habit of licking the leather sofa, and it goes way beyond just cleaning up after the kids when they eat a snack there. (Guests need not worry; we have picked up a container of cleaning wipes for leather.)
Peanut has also started barking at random. She’ll be lying on her bed, and just get up, wander over to the middle of the room, give one or two hearty woofs, and go lie back down. It’s like she’s just reminding us that she’s still here, just in case we were wondering.
We could chalk it up to a little bit of doggy dementia, but I can definitely identify.
Certainly, once they had grandkids, my parents stopped paying as much attention to me. I still like to exercise regularly, but a long nap afterward is very appealing. I get cranky when I miss breakfast or have to eat dinner at an odd time. I frequently wander around the house hoping I’ll remember what it is I got up for in the first place.
And I have taken to random barking, sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally. At home, I’ll growl at my kids when they’re getting too rambunctious. At work, when I hear my staff, most of whom are part of a younger generation, chattering away, I’ll get up from my desk and poke my head out of my office to see what the ruckus is all about — a quick “I’m still here, just in case you’re wondering,” if you will.
I could point out other similarities — we’re both going gray, we both need to stretch a lot in the morning before we get going, neither one of us has as good of eyesight as we used to.
And if I start licking the furniture, just scratch me behind the ears and tell me to go lie back down. It works for the dog, and wouldn’t bother me a bit.
Peninsula Clarion editor Will Morrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.