GETTING OLD IS
 NO WALK IN THE PARK

   I was taking my granddog, Obie, for a walk a couple of months ago, and I had the unpleasant experience of remembering that getting old is not for sissies.
   Obie is a 95 pound German Shepherd that lives with us most of the time because my son, who is his master, conveniently found an apartment that does not allow dogs. But it works out fine, because I'm madly in love with Obie, and he's madly in love with me.
   Obie is seven and a half, and I'm 62. Using the acceptable big dog chart provided by dog experts, that would make Obie approximately 52 years old in human years, or about the same age as when my body started falling apart.
   This was made strikingly clear on that walk. We were in our usual remote area near our home, where leashes are not required and Obie can run wild. As is his routine, he climbed to the top of a hill and waited for me to call him.
   When I did, he proceeded to run full speed down the hill and make his customary majestic leap across a small ravine, landing gracefully, tail wagging, on the other side where he would receive an enthusiastic pet from his admiring part-time master.
   Except on this particular occasion, his majestic leap across the ravine resulted in a face-plant into the upslope on the other side. Poor old Obie had suddenly lost his "hops."
   Welcome to my world, big boy.
   Amazingly, considering the speed at which he nosedived, he wasn't hurt. But the look on his face was priceless. He had made that jump dozens of times, clearing it easily. If a dog can look confused, this was one of those times.
   I tried explaining to him that it's only going to get worse, but he didn't seem to want to listen. He wandered off to smell a tree, but I could see he was shaken. And he wisely hasn't flown down a hill since.
   Since that fateful walk a few months ago, I've seen other signs of Obie entering my world. He doesn't quite spring into the back seat of my SUV anymore. He still makes the leap, but the hind legs drag a bit. I'm thinking of getting a low profile Lamborghini to make it easier on him to get in the car as he ages.
   There are positives for Obie getting old, too. For instance, he used to get into trouble on the few times we saw a deer on one of our walks. He would take off after the deer and chase it relentlessly, never catching it but ending up far enough away where he couldn't hear my calls. I'd eventually find him, but it was nerve-wracking. Our off-leash walks were a "Fear the Deer" trek.
   Not anymore. We ran into one last week, and, sure enough, Obie took off after it. He ran a grand total of about 30 feet and then stopped as the deer bounced away. Chasing deer was for youngsters, he realized, and it was time to move on to less exhausting things, like smelling trees.
   He's also better with other dogs. He seldom bites their necks anymore to show his dominance (always gently, but other dog owners were not thrilled), so now we can run across other dogs on the trail without worrying about a lawsuit. That's another good thing about getting old.
   Obie probably doesn't appreciate those things, though. He's still reeling from his face-plant, wondering what the hell happened to that young pup who soared over ravines like they weren't even there.
   But now he's seven and a half (52), and age is taking its toll. Soon he'll turn eight (55) and then nine (61). According to the chart for big dogs, in 2019 he'll turn 10 and that will make him 66. And I'll only be 65, meaning he'll have snuck past me in age. It will be time for him to show me what to expect, rather than the other way around.
   The strange part is that the big dog charts show Obie aging five or six human years for every dog year (after six years old), right up until the age of 15, when Obie would turn 93 human years. Then there's a line for age 16. The human year equivalent jumps to 120. Obie and I had a good laugh over that one.

 

 

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