14 and Counting

In the past two months, my family has celebrated two birthdays. Our son turned 14, and our dog turned two.

Dog owners seem to have a tendency to translate the number of dog years into people years, as naturally and easily as they might convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, or kilometers to miles.

I don’t generally use any of these conversions, but recently when employing the “dog years X 7 = people years,” calculation, I came to an interesting and amusing realization: my son and my dog are the same age!

There are numerous canine quips and expressions that fly around our household, many of which are also applicable to people, and in our case, to the companions that share the same age.

For example:

Were you born in a barn?
In fact, yes, our Australian Shepherd, Dingo was born in a barn. Nick the boy was born in a hospital under sterile conditions, though he now inhabits a room that sometimes resembles what the typical parent might refer to as a “pig sty.” Other offenses that lead to this rhetorical question include: doors left open, failure to remove shoes in the house, dishes not cleared…

A dog’s breakfast
With a mouthful of metal straightening his teeth, our son threatens to flash the macerated dinner debris coating his braces that looks like “a dog’s breakfast.” …except that Dingo’s food isn’t really so bad, and her breakfast can sit for hours and not change form, or generate bacteria. Not the case with Nick’s teeth.

Dropped the ball
Although more unbelievable with one than the other, both dog and boy actually throw the ball more than they drop it. When Dingo wants to play, she winds up with what can only be referred to as her “throwing neck,” lets the ball fly, and then looks up, urging us to take our turn.

Having a ball
Nick has earned the name “Party Boy” as he is always organizing a road hockey game, sleepover, bike riding outing or a gathering with neighbourhood families. Dingo simply has a ball…with a hole from which treats drop when rolled just so. Manipulating this toy, I believe, is how she learned to “throw.”

Throw me a bone
I am certain this constantly goes through Dingo’s mind when she knows she has done a good job listening and she waits patiently for a treat. I too, wait patiently for any small nugget of information from my human teenager, especially when I’m really digging deep for dirt, with intrusive questions like, “How was your day?”

Dog and pony show
The dog will frantically try to impress me if the above-mentioned bone is not thrown quickly enough. In a frenzy, she’ll speak-liedown-rollover-sitpretty, and if that still does not produce an airborne crunchy cookie, she’ll walk over and head-butt my knee. Nick’s routine is comprised of strategic jokes and anecdotes, surrounded by seemingly well-rehearsed reasons about why he didn’t get his school assignment done sooner…though he hasn’t yet discovered, “the dog ate my homework.”

Get your paws off!
Dog: paws off the furniture, the guests, the freshly laundered pants.
Boy: my wallet, your sister’s dessert, your dad’s car keys (OK, so I’m just practicing for that one)

Yanking my chain
Though I can’t be sure, I don’t think the dog possesses the intellectual sophistication to employ the humour that my son uses for his good natured teasing. But, at 14, each seem to both require and resent a short leash, which, though tempting to over-use in “training,” will clearly only make my life more difficult in the long run. Sigh…teenagers!

Originally printed in the Waterloo Region Record