Happy 14070! (That’s 2010 in dog years.)

A widely circulated old wives tale says that one year for a dog is equal to seven human years.  There are many references to this in our culture in movies, book titles, comedy routines and in off-handed comments.  These days we have people researching a lot about dogs because dogs have become big business and people like you and me  are willing to spend a lot of money to keep our dogs healthy (and on other silly stuff but that’s a different topic).

Recently it is being shown that the seven year equivalent is off by quite a bit but recent researchers have not come up with a nice neat replacement for the number 7.  In general it is believed that the first two years of a dog’s life are the equivalent of much more than seven years each. After all, dogs can reproduce at a year old. It’s thought now that a one year old dog is approximately the age of a 15 year old male, two years is equal to 24 years and then each year equals from 4 (for small breed dogs who live longer) to 7 years (for large breeds).  Therefore a 10 year old lap dog would be roughly 56 whereas a 10 year old St. Bernard would be more similar to a 78 year old person.

Life span expectancy varies among breeds even of the same size. An example is a Doberman which is a bigger dog but has a life expectancy of about 15 as opposed to a boxer who might be smaller but has a span of only 9 or 10 years.

Last year Panama Red and I were roughly the same age.  He was 10 and I was 57.  This year he’ll be 60 but I’ll only be 58. Looking at it this way I know these figures are way off and I really don’t want us to think of our dogs in these terms. Why? Is it because I’m in denial? Well yes but that’s only part of it.  It might be useful when considering health issue to figure a dog’s age this way but our culture makes it almost non comparable. Panama is a lot younger than I am and one reason is that he doesn’t know about age.  I don’t think he knows that he doesn’t want to chase a ball for as long as he used to because he still wants to chase it as often.  He doesn’t catch it quite as fast as he used to and doesn’t always see where it went as quickly as he used to but if he knows these things he doesn’t mind them. This is how fast Panama catches a ball. Because this is the time that Panama lives in. Now.

Fortunately Panama is a very healthy boy. Deva (who is now 13 1/2) is having a little harder time. She is very stiff but she too is very happy. I was sad for her when she stopped going to work with Ken. She no longer wants to get into the truck which used to be one of her favorite things to do. (The first word we had to spell in front of her was r-i-d-e the second was s-t-o-r-e.) She is not sad about it and as the dogs always have, they are teaching me a new way to look at things. Deva isn’t deprived of going in the truck. She has grown into another kind of life now that doesn’t include trucks and she does not “miss” it.

Dog owners often wonder what dogs are thinking but we don’t have to wonder if they are happy or not, we don’t have to wonder about what they like or don’t. They make these things very clear.  All of my dogs are happy with today just the way it is and they all live in the now.  I’ve had to work at that and I’m working at it still but they always help.

They don’t have any idea that it’s 2010 (or 14070) or that one year follows another.  I do so in my paradoxical human way I hope that this will be the year that you learn to live in the now and appreciate each day as your dog does.

Happy New Year!

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