I suspect I’m not the first author to experience post-partum depression after giving birth to a book. There’s a sense of let down. The joy of seeing the book in print and, in my case, the fun of getting the promotional videos produced and posted…. that’s done. There it is, a physical artifact, small but all powerful to affect your moods. Will others love it, you worry? Be cruel to it? Ignore it?
And then there’s the big Now what? The only answers I can come up with: Selling the book. Selling yourself.
It didn’t help that, just before the big day, my dog, my muse, the reason the book exists, got sick. Really sick. Hooked up to an IV sick. People joked that Frankie was getting pre-publication jitters. I laughed, but the possibility that it might be true nagged at me. Had I imparted my stress to the little guy?
It’s in this context that PeoplePet.com‘s report on the death of Chanel, who won a place in the Guiness World Records as the World’s Oldest Dog, hit me a bit hard.
It’s not that I felt she’d been taken prematurely. Who could argue with a lifespan of 21 years? No cause of death was offered — no surprise — but I knew Chanel had been healthy as recently as May. How did I know? Because Chanel had her 15 minutes of fame back then, when she did the rounds of the talk shows for her 21st birthday.
I blogged about Chanel, calling her the world’s oldest fashionista — this was still a dog fashion blog then — and citing her appearance on the Today show with Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera.
But it’s not just that I felt I knew her that created my dismay over her death, though that was part of it.
It’s that I worry it was her public appearances that did her in. Bright lights. Bad food. Too many people disturbing her much needed — hey, she was very very geriatric — rest.
And that, by extension, I’ll destroy Frankie’s precarious health if I take him with me on book tours.
He’s a shy guy. He hates car rides. And I’ve never even taken him on a plane. Not to mention, he has diabetes.
Forget Am I Boring My Dog? Am I Killing My Dog? is more to the point.
And now that I’ve put it out there, it seems absurd. At the moment, the only thing I’ve got lined up are appearances at local book stores and resorts.
And, after all, this blog supposed to be a guilt-free zone for good dog owners.
So I think I’ll put my worry about the harm I’m doing Frankie on hold until either Ellen or Oprah invites me to be on her show.
9 thoughts on “The death of the world’s oldest dog”
Am I Killing My Dog? Is a good follow-up book.
I worry about that every day. Food, shots, dental care, not enough exercise … what do I do to make my dog live healthily and happily for 25 years. And how do we deal with things like diabetes, blindness, deafness, allergies? Genes trump all the good things we do.
My dog would love to be on TV. She loves photo shoots. More genes — like people, dogs come out of the chute with unique personalities.
We do the best we can. After a while, you put your blinders on because it can drive you crazy. And in my better moments I take it day by day. Yes, diabetes is likely to cause cataracts — which used to make me hysterical. Now I know I’ll deal with that when and if it happens.
This is a wonderful blog, and I’m not even a dog fan, as you know. You of course, are a terrific dog owner.
Do you remember those little plastic mini trophies you could get in the dime stores in the 60s. World Best Dad, Best Mom, Husband, Wife, etc?
Consider yourself awarded. Maybe you could post links to other Best Dog Owner stories, so you can all remind yourselve you are. I just keep hearing “Good Dog” “Good Dog” “Good Dog Owner” Another book idea? Sort of a Chicken Soup for the Good Dog Owner’s Soul sort of thing?
Aww, Jim, what a nice thing to say, both about my blog and my dog caretaking skills.
Trouble is, dog caretaking is as much of a roller coaster ride as parenting. As “Wumpie” said, you never feel like you’re doing enough. On the other hand, dogs remain at the perpetual age equivalent of a two year old, and you’ll never hear them complain”You ruined my life” because you were a bad parent. Dogs are always grateful for the slightest kindnesses, always optimistic. It’s tough to do wrong!
At some point we must come to grips with the fact that there is such a thing as too much anthropomorphizing. I say that having just paid a bundle to cut short my trip in Argentina (from where I am now commenting) because I fear Archie is languishing without me. Or maybe I fear that he is NOT languishing without me. The point is, sometimes the empathy phenomenon is counterproductive to the non-boring dog parent goal. But Arch really isn’t eating well right now….
The good news is that Amazon has raised the price on your book by over a dollar since publication date! I see that as a vote of much-deserved confidence. Will you remember me when you’re someone?
You seem to be suffering from post-book publication depression, Clare! I’m sorry you’re cutting your trip short but I’m sure Archie misses you terribly.
Greetings from Sydney, Australia.
Chanel was NOT the world’s oldest dog. And New York’s Paco Sosa (20) is six years younger than a “terier mix” named Max, owned by Janelle Derouen of New Iberia, Louisiana, born on August 9, 1983. He celebrated his 26th birthday last month.
Janelle says Max is in remarkably good shape. He suffers from cataracts, so he wears doggie goggles when he’s out in the sun, and a touch of arthritis has slowed him down, but not by much.
You can see a video of Max and his owner at http://xmangerm.vox.com/library/video/6a00d4141bbfae685e0110160aba58860b.html
Max is probably the world’s oldest dog.
Earlier this week, a German woman claimed her pooch was 25 — with a tattoo of her birthdate in her ear to prove it.
Verena Wulf from BavariaWulf told her local radio station SWR3, “My Penny is 25,” and came to her family in 1986. “The vet at the time put her age at about one and a half.”
More details are posted at http://www.canada.com/Coffee+Break/1957200/story.html
[Eric Shackle is a retired Australian journalist whose hobby is searching the Internet and writing about it. He is copy editor of Anu Garg’s Seattle-based A Word A Day http://wordsmith.org newsletter, which is e-mailed five days a week to more than 750,000 wordlovers in 200 countries. Eric’s blog, LifeBeginsAt80, is posted at
Eric, thanks for this great information. Perhaps it makes my point. These older pooches have kept a low profile — which may be key to their continuing longevity. I’m convinced it was Chanel’s media tour that finally did her in.