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Why I Dislike Senior Dog Month (But Love My Senior Dog, Frankie)

Frankie: Poster dog for seniors or simply a retiree?

Frankie: Poster dog for seniors — or simply himself?

I returned to dog blogging on August 1, a date I chose because I had stopped posting here exactly a year earlier and I like symmetry (and maybe I have a touch of OCD). When I discovered, after the fact, that BlogPaws had designated August Senior Pets Month, I was thrilled. I was planning to write about Frankie’s senior status. What could be better than riding in on the coattails of an entire month devoted to the topic?

After thinking about it for a bit, I decided that plain, boiled Brussels sprouts or doing pushups in 102 degree heat might be better.

Allow me to explain…

The pressure, the pressure!

I’m having a tough enough time trying to be profound, interesting and funny after being away from pet blogging for so long. Now I have to worry that if I am honest about my problems with Frankie, no one will want to adopt a senior dog?

That’s way too much responsibility.

The artificiality

watermelon-margarita-webI always considered Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to be bogus Hallmark holidays but as long as there were only two of them, I could live with it. Now, however, every food and beverage item — and every cause — has an allotted time slot. There are not enough days in the week or months in the year to observe them.

I will admit that I didn’t mind the convergence of National Tequila Day and National Watermelon Day. Watermelon margaritas are delicious.

The arbitrariness

Why should August be senior pet month?  Because people are on vacation and have time to attend to their senior pets? Because all the other months were taken? Several other pet organizations, including the ASPCA and Petfinder, have designated November as Senior Pet Month. Why the disparity?

This is not the first time I’ve ranted about arbitrary holidays, I realized. Back in 2009, I wrote November is Pet Diabetes Month. Oh the Irony! The gist: Pet Diabetes Month was a creation of Schering-Plough, the manufacturer of Vetsulin. In early November, the FDA announced that Vetsulin was defective. It was soon taken off the market (nearly four years later it’s come back).

The reductionism

It’s lazy journalism to attribute much significance to an age group or generation, to designations like Baby Boomer  and Millennial.  And, unless they are rich and/or powerful, humans tend to get ignored as they get older. Lumping them together in categories like “senior” only exacerbates the problem.

The same is true for dogs. Senior canines do have some characteristics in common, including a tendency to slow down, but their personalities remain as distinct as ever with the passage of time.

Some senior dogs are sweethearts, and some senior dogs are assholes (it’s true that their owners are usually to blame but that doesn’t change the fact).  Some have diseases that are tougher than others to deal with. It’s important to discuss them as individuals with distinctive temperaments that fit your lifestyle.

The length of time (too long)

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great to shine a light on topics that are near and dear to pet bloggers. I have taken part in lots of worthy cause-themed challenges and I am always wowed by people’s different takes on the same topic, and by the vast variety of things that deserve support. It’s a great big wonderful world.

I love events like Take Your Dog to Work Day, specific and finite.

It seems to me that a cause is diluted over an entire month. Senior dog, senior dog, blah blah.

The length of time (too short)

People who rescue old dogs, knowing they are not long for the world, deserve kudos every single day. And twice a day.

Why I love my senior dog

Because he’s Frankie.

***

 I’m willing to listen to reason, though. Tell me why I’m just a cranky curmudgeon who should stick to pulling pieces of cactus off my dog with my bare hands. Did raised awareness over an extended period help you or someone you know decide to adopt a senior dog?

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11 Comments

  1. Posted August 15, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I think senior dogs need all the help they can get and then some more. Here in Tucson, senior dogs that enter our pound (PACC) are automatically considered SNA (special needs adoption) so that’s one strike against them.

    Also senior dogs in a shelter/rescue situation are less likely to be adopted than their counter parts of puppies or younger dogs.

    I like the idea that a senior dog month creates some awareness about senior dogs which tend to be forgotten much of the time.

    Long live senior dogs and the celebrating of them. If I won the lottery (I’d have to buy a ticket first), I would have a string of senior dog sanctuaries. While there are hundreds of dogs in our community that need homes – one of the focuses of my blog — is calling attention to those senior dogs at PACC who so deserve a home for the rest of their years.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I’m not saying I’m against celebrating senior dogs — far from it! I just wonder if artificially setting aside a month works. I hope so as much as you do.

  2. Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Love this, Edie! So insightful… welcome back to blogging. You were missed.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      THANK YOU, Yvonne, for taking this in the spirit in which it was intended — tongue in cheek. I was worried that I would offend you and the other BlogPaws founders and that was never my intention. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to get this comment from you.

      • Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Oh but I totally agree with you! And, we accomplished something important with our focus on seniors… more conversation about them! I so love, love, love your statement… “Why I love my senior dog…” Because he’s Frankie!

        Exactly why I love my Chester!

        p.s. I hate being a ‘senior’ , don’t mind being a Baby Boomer, and LOVE when I get senior discounts! So… all in good spirits.

  3. Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I have to agree, Edie – I generally let these celebrations pass unremarked unless it’s adopt a shelter a dog or something like that, or I have something to say. And senior dogs, well, they should get their person’s full attention several times a day, because we know what’s coming.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we do — and that’s tougher for us than it is for them, I’m sure. Hope Tashi is doing okay!

  4. Posted August 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Technically, both mine are seniors now (13 and 9). They didn’t used to be, and now they are. Maybe mine don’t “count” since I adopted them at 10 weeks and 6 months?

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think early adoption changes the senior designation — but good try! 😉

  5. Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Zora came to me as a senior dog. I love her for being sweet and goofy, and although she’s not necessarily well-trained, she’s great around my cats. I do think senior dogs have a harder time getting adopted, but truthfully at my age I don’t have the energy to train a puppy so I’m very happy with my senior dog!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Good for you for adopting a senior dog! My senior always has been antisocial and that’s not going to change in his lifetime but I have thought that I would like to give a home to a couple of seniors in the future.

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