Ted Markle: Teaching old dogs new tricks

You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing. – George Bernard Shaw

Ted Markle ted.markle@tc.tc
Published on December 19, 2016

Is walking two dogs twice the workout?

Sue wants me to stay healthy as I age. I do appreciate her concern, and frankly, without her efforts, I’d likely be long gone.

Ted Markle

My diet and exercise regimen (or lack thereof) are a daily topic of discussion. Sue is firm that runs to the beer fridge (no matter how frequent) do not constitute a workout. Pepperonis have been banned – outright. Please don’t tell her, but I purchase them through a clandestine source – and keep a stash in the glove compartment.

I receive regular sermons on my lack of fruit consumption. Through the whirling howl of the blender, the homily continues (just louder) as Sue assertively inserts incompatible ingredients: melon skins, kale, bananas and a thickening agent guaranteed to trigger my gag reflex. Her current last-ditch attempt to increase my fruit consumption is the morning Sippy-cup of apple juice accompanied by a vitamin D and two omega 3’s.

The passage of time is affecting each of us in this household.

Phoebe the wonder-dog is the latest to be stricken. You may recall, Phoebe is the most loving dog in history.

And deaf as a post.

The patience of Mother Theresa would be tested by Phoebe’s latest malaise. First discovered by Sue when she went to move the dog bed – Phoebe’s seeping while she’s sleeping.

As Sue cleaned up, she expressed no frustration and not even a hint of floating hostility. She was a songbird of sympathy for the sorry hound while I rushed out to purchase doggie diapers – the only differences with the human variety being a hole for the tail and the outrageous cost per unit.

Driving home, I wondered if Sue will be as empathetic when the inevitable happens and I rise from the chesterfield with the same sad, soaking realization.

A call to the vet’s office and my further instructions were laid out. I was to drop off a urine sample after our morning constitutional.

During our walk around Tudhope Park, Phoebe’s consistent rhythm is to make a deposit every 15 steps. She crouches – delicately raising her right leg a couple of inches from the ground - and dribbles.

This particular -15 C morning, I followed her, hunched and gloveless, plastic cup in hand waiting for her telltale move. To my chagrin, Phoebe was suddenly dehydrated. What should have taken mere seconds was 30 minutes without a drop.

I was a muttering, profane and frostbit Quasimodo pursuing a deaf and dry dog. To complete the humiliation, neighbours approached smiling – then, witnessing up close the tragic absurdity of my situation, turned away, shaking their heads.

When she finally did crouch, I dove forward and shoved the cup between her hind legs. Relieved, (both of us), I snapped the lid on the cup as if to preserve evidence at a crime scene. Phoebe tilted her head towards me and raised an eyebrow.

We cut short the walk. I placed the sample cup on the counter – beside the omega 3’s and vitamin D – and took a bio-break of my own, running warm water on my feelingless digits.

Preparing for the next trip (to the vet’s office), I returned to the kitchen to fetch the sample and gazed upon the two omega 3’s, one vitamin D, and two cups with lids holding contents of identical colour.

Aging affects our senses – not just hearing and sight, but even smell and taste.

Our vet was perplexed by the test results and suggested Phoebe cut back her consumption of acidic fruit. I concurred. Phoebe and I happily shared a contraband pepperoni on the way home.

 

Ted Markle, a media industry veteran of more than 30 years, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at ted.markle@tc.tc. – Twitter : @tedmarkle