Jumping Jack Flash…

Hank is a Golden Retriever, and by Golden Retriever standards, he’s getting up there in years. On November 8th he turns 12 years old. His muzzle is showing signs of silver, and flecked throughout the fur on his face are little dots of gray. His eyes are getting cloudy, that blueish shade of milky that old dogs get behind their eyes; he doesn’t have cataracts, he just has old eyes. Bright, happy, wise old eyes.

These days he doesn’t do much. Breakfast and medications at 9 a.m. followed by a nap. He wakes to look out the window in my office, which sits low enough toward the floor that he can plop down on his side and still have a first class view of the world outside, which sometimes includes the neighbor’s dog Nick, or the squirrel that drives him nuts. Then he naps again, off and on, waking when the Spouse Thingy comes home. The two generally share a conversation of grunts and odd howls, after which he takes a nap, until his stomach wakes him for dinner.

Dinner is at 6 p.m., his favorite meal, because he doesn’t get stuck with the dry kibble-like diet food; he gets a can of Alpo, all meaty and filled with stinky dog pleasure. And no pills to worry about. After dinner he tends to nap, resting up for that 10 p.m. snack of dry diet food and more pills.

Canine senior citizenship seems to be riddled with the same amount of drugs as for humans; during the day Hank winds up swallowing 8 pills. Those pills used to be hidden in his dry food, until he figured out that if he picked the food out of his bowl piece by piece, he could spit out the pills and only eat his food.

The process took about 45 minutes. He seemed quite pleased with himself.

So the pills became wrapped in a small piece of bread dabbed with a little peanut butter. If he’s figured out the pills are in there, we don’t know; all he cares about is the peanut butter. Any concern over the added calories is tempered by the knowledge that at his age, simple pleasures shouldn’t be withheld. He’s lived long enough to deserve a dollop of peanut butter every day. Life’s too short to not have… well, peanut butter, if you’re a dog.

His life is pretty good, for an old furbag. There are no real expectations of him, other than to get out the back door before the whizzing commences, and to not bite the cat. He dreams most of his day away, curled up near my desk, where I sit and write, and where I look down every few minutes and moan “ohmygod, can you go do that outside?”

Hank has reached that part of Canine Senior Citizen Life where flatulence incorporates a good deal of his activity. Better for him, he doesn’t even have to be awake to manage this. He sleeps, shifts comfortably on the floor, and aims that cannon in my direction.

Thusly, I spend a good part of my day with the collar of my shirt pulled up over my nose, trying to breathe through a layer of cotton or fleece.

Hank, my Booger Bear, has, in his old age, become the Fart King.
I think he rather enjoys this position, too, to be honest.

When he’s awake, if asked “Did you do that?” he smiles his floppy doggy grin, complete with tongue hanging out his mouth, his eyes shining brightly, and does it again. Just to be sure I knew for certain that it really was him.

The lifespan for a Golden Retriever is 10-15 years. At 12, especially when faced with the knowledge that his liver barely functions, and he has major hip and elbow dysplasia, along with epilepsy, I know his time here is limited. But he enjoys every minute of it, and when it’s over, he’ll romp happily to the Rainbow Bridge in search of his momma cat Dusty, let her lick his face a few times, and sigh in his canine way, “Man, that was a gas.”

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