March 25, 2006


Wintering into Wisdom

"So learn from this and understand true values. I who tell you have wintered into wisdom." -- Hrothgar in the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf

Over the last year or so, I've noticed that humans have started making not-so-veiled references to my age. Just for instance: several blocks down the road, there live a couple of frollicking, rollicking Labs who often greet Mike and Lucy and me with the kind of butt-shuffling, springy-legged, full-bodied enthusiasm common among sporting dogs. One them was trying to puppy play with me when his human told him to calm down because I'm an "elder statesman."

Another man called me an "old timer" when I was walking through the alley the other day, and many folks have more politely asked my age (currently 8, by the way).

Well, okay. It's true that I'm getting a bit gray around the muzzle. I've been telling myself it's premature since my mom was a very light buff-colored Lab compared with my fox-red dad. But I also know that age really is creeping up on me, as it does on all of us. I'm a little stiffer on my bad back leg in the morning than I used to be, a little more cautious as I come up the stairs with the newspaper.

We Labs are not terribly introspective. We tend to take life as it comes. But lately I've noticed some changes. For example, I no longer jump up indescriminately when the refrigerator door opens. I just listen from the other room. Someone rumaging through the vegetable drawer holds little interest. I don't even lift my head at the sound. The sound of rustling plastic is different. I may raise an eyebrow to that. And if it's exactly the right kind of rustling plastic and if it's preceded by the sound of an opening meat drawer, then I'm willing to expend the energy to get up and mosey into the kitchen. The promise of a taste of deli turkey or ham makes the trip worth it. And, if I limp just a little, playing the age card, I'm almost sure to score something.

Yes, a certain wisdom - or even wiliness - is one of the recompenses of age. The sliced pepperoni tastes a little sweeter today than it used to, being won by dint of fine mental calibration rather than the constant, unnuanced begging of my puppyhood. Likewise, I now know when to bark at the door and when to just let neighborhood noises pass, when to stay in the shade during walks in the Florida sun and when to brave the heat, and when to just ignore another crack about how I'm getting older. An older dog knows, after all, that life is fleeting and shouldn't be wasted on trivia. In fact, the need to savor each sweet moment is one of the tricks that we older dogs can teach.

Oh, Hank, that's so true. You are so handsome with a touch of gray on your face. We all are getting older over here, too, and now when to use it get what we want.
Words of wisdom. Just as true for people as they are for dogs.
Wonderful thoughts.
Wonderful write-up.
And a wonderful you.

Thanks for reminding us (humans) how good our life is or can be.

Stay happy Hank!
Don't worry. It happens to us all. But shouldn't that be 'elder statesDOG'?
What a Gentle Giant you are,
as you get older your, occasionally more mellow about it.That's not to say that your not happy with the situation but you Hank have learnd to use it as best You can, even make sure you benefit ( as a dog) in the best way you know how. Nice reads thank you .
Dear Hank, We know all about getting old. In fact , when we came to live with our human, she had two other dogs who were 11 and 13 respectively. Our puppy-ness gave them each a new lease of life for more than two years!! So 8 is still quite young!! Peri is 4 and I am 6 1/2.
Thank you for asking about the health of our human. She is very dedicated and even when she doesn't feel well ( which is quite a lot of the time) she takes us for a walk. I have recently taken to swimming like Ian Thorpe, and Peri loves to swim. We walked in the rain this morning. We love the photo of you running in the water!!
Truth be told, our human loves and appreciates us even more as we get older. Puppies have so little to think about!!
Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey and
Peri Naughty the Golden Labradors
Think of the wisdom, not the years. 8 is still quite young.
older maybe, but definitely wiser and super-efficient, ha ha
hey hey hank, thanks for sharing your wisdom with us all. my dogfriend sandy is just a little older than 1 year and sometimes she makes me feel old even though i am just 3 or 4 myself.

i guess if you can enjoy getting older, maybe i can too. i just wish sandy wouldn't run away so fast when she chews on my ears... i'd like to catch her one of these times.
Hank, you are beautiful. There's nothing more handsome in the canine world than a dog with gray on his muzzle!

Your fan ... Gina (Dogma)
Very nicely said, thank you. Try some glucosamine supplements for the stiff legs - they worked for my Uma when she started getting arthritic.
I may have to try that limping trick. It might work for me too.

Thanks very much about the handsome comment. We're all getting older...too true. I dare say it's true about everyone reading this.

Hi Woofwoof,

Yes, it's true. If Mike were to grow out his whiskers, his muzzle would be grayer than mine, I think.

Hi Furkids,

Thanks! Cherish each day, my friends.

Hi Gary,

Yes, you're right. Elder statesDOG would have been more appropriate. But humans can be so parochial.

Hi Sam,

It's true that you get more mellow about it. Then again, it still doesn't take much to get me to puppy play. It pays to keep some puppy in you.

Hi 2paw,

You sound as if you've got a splendid household. I'm glad ya'll are taking to the water. There's little that makes me feel better than a dip in the bay.

Hi Kimananda,

It's true. Eight isn't so old, after all. Then again, I'll be nine soon and Labs are only supposed to live 10 to 12 years. Still, I'm hoping to beat the average. I still have a lot to do.

Hi Katerine,

Super-efficient. I like that. I think I may put it on my tag: Hank, Super-Efficient Labrador.

Hi Ivy,

Having an ear-chewing speedster in the family can be tough. I've always wanted to be a tad faster than I am. I'm seldom able to catch those agile, long-legged dogs, though when I do they'll be sorry.

Hi Gina,

Thanks! I like to think I look more distinguished with the gray. Molly says I do but sometimes I get the sense she might be a tad biased.

Hi Juliar,

Thanks for the glucosamine suggestion. Indeed, I get a dose everyday and I think it helps a bit. Mine is an old "sports" injury
that flares up some times more than others. After a day at the beach, sometimes I'm gimping around like Jerome Bettis after NFL Sunday. Well, I still love to play the game.

Hi Gary,

Sure, try the limp sometime. You never know when it'll pay off.
I personally think growing older has its beauty too! I think we just have to make the best of every phase of our life and enjoy it as much as we can. And are there Easter Eggs hiding in that basket on the table? Or did you put them on other places? I MUST know.
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