Sunday, November 27, 2011


Growing Old Together

Here's an Oreo-related column from today's Ottawa Citizen:

Oreo is our family dog. He’s a six-and-a-half year-old black and white Portuguese water dog with a pleasant disposition and a penchant for eating sticks.

When it came to acquiring him, I was the lone holdout. My wife Cheryl and my daughter Sarah were desperate to get a dog. Although I like dogs, I didn’t want the responsibility.

Needless to say, I capitulated and Oreo has long since become a valued member of the family. In fact, with every passing year, I find that he and I have more and more in common and we are now becoming fast friends.

I think this has something to do with the aging process. Based on the very rough guideline that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years, Oreo is now about 45. When he turns nine on March 24, 2014 and I turn 64 a day earlier, we’ll be almost the same age in human years.

Keeping that in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that we are starting to live very similar lives. To wit:

Oreo has allergies and has to eat special dog food made from salmon and potatoes; expensive special dog food, I might add. Although I don’t have any allergies, I now also have to restrict my food intake to those things which do not cause any digestive upsets. However, we both still enjoy the occasional treat.

Both Oreo and I are convinced that we are the perfect weight for our breed. The family vet, however, disagrees and suggests that our portly Portie could stand to lose a few pounds. I have heard similar comments from my family doctor. We choose to view the glass as half full as well as the bowl and the plate, and figure there’s just more of us to love.

Sleeping habits
Like most dogs, Oreo likes to sleep. I used to marvel at his ability to put in a full night’s sleep and still bag tons of zzzs napping during the day. Now that I’m retired, I am no longer in awe of his sleeping regimen and often manage to match him nap for nap.

Despite our slight excess weight, we are both firm believers in exercise. I like to work out by taking group cycling classes. However, more and more often, I find that my exercise regime mirrors Oreo’s as we now take frequent walks together.

As I mentioned, Oreo’s fur is black and white. As more grey sneaks into my head covering, my hirsute status might now be described as brown and white. Oreo, too, is starting to show touches of grey here and there although his fur is not thinning like mine. We both choose to classify our hair appearance as distinguished.

Up until recently, I would have placed Oreo’s health status a tad ahead of mine. But, like me, he has been diagnosed as having osteoarthritis of the right hip. I’ve got it in the left hip, too, but we both manage to bounce around pretty well for our respective ages. Like Oreo, I still have most of my original teeth.

Oreo was euphemistically “fixed” at a very young age. Yet he still seems to have some sexual urges as he occasionally attempts to hump the odd dog or human leg. I, too, have had some minor surgical alterations but, so far, I do not hump other dogs or legs.

I take a couple of medications for acid reflux and mild hypertension. Thanks to his osteoarthritis diagnosis, Oreo is starting to catch up with me. We both take Glucosamine and the occasional Aspirin for our arthritis but neither of us indulges in recreational drugs unless you count the odd beer.

Rock ’n’ roll
Although we both liked to party when we were younger, thanks to advancing years, neither of us is now fond of loud music including rock ’n’ roll. If we have to have music in the house, we prefer something peaceful, like soft classical music or nature sounds, especially those featuring birds and squirrels.

As we age gracefully together, Oreo and I are finding more and more activities to join in together. Activities like eating, napping and watching TV. If current trends are any indication, I anticipate the two of us happily spending our golden years together. I just wish the old guy had a pension to help out with his vet bills.

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