The Block Island Times

Baby-Boomers beware, this could happen to you

By J.V. Houlihan, Jr. | Nov 01, 2013
Photo by: J.V. Houlihan, Jr.

If you’re a baby-boomer sans grandkids — or with, for that matter — then you probably have a pet of some kind: a dog, cat, ferret, parrot, snake or some type of exotic fish. You get my drift here? Bottom line is, by the time we reach our golden years there is a good chance we will still need to take care of something (it’s purely Darwinian); but more importantly, we need something to talk to when we’re alone. The older we get the daffier we become; however, our pets will not hold this against us. Now if you disagree with me, flip on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and get a snootful of Larry David’s act, and then tell me that baby-boomers aren’t a touch off-center; not that there’s anything wrong with that.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we humans have to square away a few things first before we become geezers. In a nutshell: we must do some physiological stuff, feel secure, and have a little self-esteem and a sense of purpose. Then, when we get old, the fun stuff happens and we do whatever the hell we want. Do you know why? Well, it’s simple. We don’t care! We’ve earned the right to be wacky just by surviving this long. It is a fait accompli, that we will be slipping a cog as we get on in years. Take a look around at our peers, folks. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about; they’re appearing in growing numbers, too. We may try to reign in our behavior in public, and be cool. But, alone at home with or without our mate, well, that’s another story altogether. This is precisely where pets enter the picture.

Our pets don’t care what we do or who we are ― as long as their basic needs are met on a daily basis. Certain pets know it’s a quid pro quo deal. If you’re a dog person the contract is a simple one: I’ll be cute and give you my paw, or twirl in a circle, and you’ll be charmed and then you’ll give me a treat. It’s a simple Pavlovian deal ― for dogs it is anyway. I’m not sure about reptiles. My wife and I are standard issue dog people, and we both feel a kindredness with other dog folks; especially if we have the same kind of canine. Recently, a couple heading to the island had two cockapoos (we have a cockapoo, Sailor), and the owners and I just marveled at how great these dogs are ― how “bright they are!” Yeah, I know, if you’re a dog owner, you’re probably whispering “my dog’s better than your dog” right about now. You’re allowed, so whisper on about how athletic, smart and intuitive your dog is; you’re preaching to the choir here. In fact, take a moment right now to tell your own above-average canine comrade how great they are.

Some of the things people do with their dogs has me perplexed. I never understood the big burley guy in a big El Dorado driving down the road holding a tiny poodle or Havanese in his lap while smoking a cigar ― you know, the little delicate head, with maybe a cute little bow on top, looking out the driver’s window. Well, that seems pretty tame compared to something I recently witnessed at our home. My wife came scooting in one day and hustled our guy Sailor into the bedroom. A few minutes later she said, “Joey, get your camera!” The picture says it all (note well the little back pack). Of course Sailor was accommodating as I clicked away; he’s seen and heard weirder stuff at our place. I said to my wife, “let’s put some earphones in his ears!” I mean what a guy can do when he’s confronted with stuff like this. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

This winter, for a few months, we’ll be dog sitting our neighbor’s little Cavachon. Since we lost our Scottie, Mac, his brother Sailor could use some canine company and we’re happy to help our neighbor. Moreover, both dogs get along great. Already my wife is talking about a little sailor suit for Sailor for this Halloween. I can’t even imagine what kind of rig she’s going to put on our neighbor’s dog! The crazy thing about all of this stuff is that I think it’s just perfectly natural and normal to dress up your dog. So beware all of you baby-boomers, “This could happen to you,” if it hasn’t already.

Nota Bene: In the midst of writing this column, we adopted a 7-year old Scotty named MacTavish.

God only knows what my wife has in store for this guy. He and Sailor are as tight as a tick. They get along great!

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