Our pets age at a vastly different rate than we do. While a tortoise might remain a spry youngster throughout the entirety of our life, a dog might enter middle age and then exit stage left in two or three years. According to the American Kennel Club, 15 human years is equal to the first year of a medium-sized dog’s life. Two years for a dog equals about nine years for a human. After that, each year translates into approximately five years for a dog.
My sister Connie, has an Australian shepherd mix named Boogie. The dog has been with her for the last dozen or so years. Boogie is something near 16 in human years. According to a chart I found at www.akc.org, he would be, in human terms, exiting his late 80s and entering his 90s.
Yesterday, that girl, my sister Debbie, Terry, and I drove to Butte for a holiday dinner with Connie and my brother-in-law, Tony. Boogie did not greet me at the door with tail wagging as he always has in the past. I eventually found him standing in the parlor, seemingly unaware of the flurry of family activity suddenly blossoming around him as we exchanged greetings. Boogie was little more than a sullen statue of his former self. Honestly, the last few months have been devastating to Boogie. When I approached him, he did not react in the slightest. No flopping on the floor for a belly-rub as in days of old. For my whole time there, Boogie remained inactive and inattentive.
Old age—human or otherwise—is such a cheater. Old age drags away everything from around us as we stand there flagging in an ever-increasing stupor.
Boogie does not have much time left. I suppose he saw all of us as a blur of noise and activity that no longer interested him. He is withdrawing from the wider world around him.
On my side of this…seeing Boogie yesterday hurt me.