The Block Island Times

Dogs and geezers-in-training

By J.V. Houlihan, Jr. | Jul 20, 2013

On any given day at the Point Judith ferry dock, we’ll see lots of dogs packed into the family car. Martin Donovan keeps doggie treats in the parking lot shack and they go like hotcakes in the summer season. Furthermore, we’ll see this leashed canine brigade walking up the ramp to board the ferry being wrangled by their owners, some of whom are, ahem, getting on in years. Another term for a baby-boomer is a “geezer-in training,” or more aptly put, a GIT.

Boomer and GIT are synonymous terms that define the 79 million aging characters that will not go gently into that good night. This is the demographic that will feel aches and pains in (I’m a proud GIT, and know from which I speak) our knees, wrists, ankles, shoulders, hips, elbows, feet and eyelids. If you’re a GIT, you need to stay flexible and strong. Doctors will tell you this; movement is crucial. This is where dogs come into the picture.

Now, I know several GITs who are very active ― power GITS. They ski, sail, ride bikes, swim, golf, jog, power walk and do yoga. This is all great stuff; however, let’s look at the simple benefits of having a dog, or two. First, let’s explore a standard morning routine at casa Houlihan. Mac, our fiercely aloof and self-absorbed Scottish terrier, and our tragically cute Cockapoo Sailor, must have their needs met. So, I man up and do the morning thing ― I know, I’m a prince ― leash up the boys, and take them out for their morning business. This early morning drill requires bending, twisting and reaching in order to simply get the dogs out of the house; mind you, everything hurts―everything. After their initial morning routine, the rapscallions must be fed, which involves more of the aforementioned movement. After some morning coffee chatter with my wife, it’s time for my tail wagging charges to head for a romp at the Point Judith Lighthouse.

Sailor, a sprightly 8-year old, can hop up into the truck; Mac who is ten, must be lifted. At this point of the morning drills, low groans emanate from within this GIT’s core. (The boys are fine however, because they already did their doggie yoga moves, and yawns while their grub was being readied, whattacountry, huh!) When we get to the lighthouse, these two characters are ready to run and sniff, which is my cue, to get out and roam aimlessly around and look at the ocean and Block Island.

Moreover, some stretching will invariably happen, and the groaning will continue; a GIT is allowed to groan aloud. This liberating behavior is one of life’s little GIT gifts.

In addition to the morning routines, our dogs will then be walked around the neighborhood in the afternoon and evening. By that time, a GIT is usually loosened up and movement is much less arduous. The GIT learns from his dogs the old adage that, “slow and steady wins the race.”

I see many dog-owning GITs at the ferry docks, and we agree on how our dogs are beneficial to our overall health. We also know that our dogs will accept, to be Aristotelian for a moment, our GITness unconditionally. Furthermore, they will accept our weirdness (remember, we grew up in the 1960s) and peccadilloes. There is no doubt that dogs will observe their owner’s addled mind as he mumbles, shuffles and groans his way into the day. So as we hobble and trundle our way into the future, let us not forget our canine allies, if they need to move, then so do we — it’s non-negotiable. These days, there are many ways to acquire a dog. If you want a dog, you’ll find one, or one may find you. We adopted Sailor a year ago this March. It was a perfect match for our family. This guy is a piece of work, and is keeping all of us, especially his brother Mac, on our toes along with our flexors and extenders.

Geez on!

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