A Life in the Day of a Dog

My dog, Jackson.

For the 27th time, I threw the faded yellow Hol-ee roller ball to my exceptionally enthusiastic border collie Jackson. Like always, the catch was flawlessly precise. With each new faithful retrieve, his pride beamed a little more.

Jackson was 59 “human” years old today.

In a bittersweet whisper, I secretly wished to be in such great shape as my canine at 59. It was probably just wishful thinking on my part, though. The thought made me chuckle, and we started in on throw #28.

In all reality, this fresh spring day was Jackson’s ninth birthday. He truly had never looked better. He was considered a “senior” now, but he was as spry as ever.

It seemed that “59” suited him well.

Jackson had no idea what age he was, but we humans are obsessed with comparing human years to dog years, so naturally that’s exactly what I did.

It’s a common believe that seven years of a dog’s life are equivalent to one human year, but this rule is a bit outdated. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has set some general standards for this long-standing comparison:

· Year one (for a mid-size pooch) equals about 15 human years.

· Year two equals about nine human years.

· Every dog year after those first two equal about five human years.

When you break it down, the numbers really aren’t too far off for either formula in terms of the “senior” years.

Bottom line is that life goes by very fast.

Jackson, not letting life pass him by.

Thinking of a dog’s life as a flash in the pan makes me sentimental. I feel guilty for many things that Jackson and I endured together.

I can’t forget about the time I got divorced and Jackson didn’t want to play for that whole year. The math suggests that Jackson was lost in a state of depression for five human years.

And I thought the divorce was rough on me!

Then there was the time when he had a run-in with my dad’s electric fence or the run-in with the tractor OR the run-in with the bigger dog. Come to think of it, Jackson had lived a pretty daredevil kind of life leading up to our game of 59th birthday catch.

As I threw the Hol-ee roller for the 33rd time, I couldn’t help but chuckle again at my reminiscing. Many times over the past “59” years this black and white playaholic had occupied my thoughts, emotions, home, wallet, vehicle, bed, you name it.

He’d made me very happy, and I was grateful to this pup. Sometimes I would look at him and ask him if I’d given him a good life. I wondered if the fun car rides running errands or the walks in the park were enough to make him happy all these “59” years.

The daredevil, Jackson.

He had no idea the money I’d spent on routine visits to the vet or the cash I threw down for quality dog food or the little extra I’d put aside for special treats.

He just knew that Mom was good at playing catch, and maybe that’s all it took for him to understand the value his life had brought to mine.

Maybe being “59” years old was no different than being a puppy. Possibly the AVMA had the math figured out for dog years, but Jackson and I had figured out life. It could be that, even with all the hardships, our loyal game of catch was the eraser that wiped the slate clean each day.

If we only had a “game of catch” for all our relationships in life…

For the 47th time, I threw the yellow Hol-ee roller to my faithful canine friend. In true border collie fashion, he executed an over-the-top leap and caught the ball mid-air.

Year “59” was definitely his year, and THIS was undoubtedly the best game of catch I’d ever played with a “senior.”