Just like my teen girls, my doggos are getting older. And I don’t like it, not one bit.
Most affected the past week is Harry (aka ‘Prince Harry,’ ‘One-Braincell-Harry’ and/or ‘Weiner-Schnitzel’). More about that last nickname later.
Now, Harry is only 7.5 human years old. But if you watched him lately, he’s walking around like he’s 107 years old. He’s a gentle giant, and sadly his hips and shoulders seem to be failing him. Daily supplements for joint strength are only doing so much, and soon we may have to explore medical options to give him some relief.
So, you see, I’m reminded by my gentle giant that life is short. He also reminds me how normal it is to get creaky when you get older. I don’t like this particular reminder: it hits too close to home. But what Harry does not seem to do is get crotchety as he gets older (that is just my own personal human-aging flaw). In fact, he gets sweeter as time passes.
When Harry was a puppy, he had three defining attributes:
1. An obvious and annoying tendency to pant loudly with each step. All you could hear is HAH, HAH, HAH, HAH as he paced around the house (he still does it);
2. Gigantic ears (obvious), and:
3. a Gigantic… well, ahem, you can guess by the photo where X marks the spot.
(You know what they say about big ears).
When Harry was happy and relaxed, he would sit and pant and his weiner-schnitzel would just sort of ‘hang out.’ (I did promise to share the origin of that pet name). We all believed that once he got ‘fixed,’ this particular anomaly would disappear so to speak.
Newsflash: it didn’t.
So here we are. Our beautiful boy who still sits exactly the same way as a 120lb giant as he did when a little puppy: panting, with his weiner-schnitzel hanging out. (Only when he’s happy, of course).
Other than my husband, Harry is the only other male in this estrogen-dominant household.
And he’s not afraid to show it. Literally.
But just to be clear: my husband doesn’t sit panting with HIS weiner-schnitzel hanging out when he’s happy (at least not publicly).
Each of our three teen daughters has essentially ‘adopted’ one of our three canine crew. One of my twin girls is most attached to Harry, and he has kinda adopted her back.
A few years ago, the girls started to notice Harry’s weiner-schnitzel. Let’s be honest — it’s hard not to notice. Imagine if you will a regular sized, uncooked and slightly slimy hotdog. Apologies for the TMI — I realize it is kinda gross. But you needed to know what we’re working with here.
His adopted girl, Maeve, has been the most perturbed by his happiness-signal. As a parent, this appendage is very hard to explain to pre-pubescent girls. I mean, how exactly DO you explain this to a little girl who is asking “What is wrong with Harry, mommy?”.
But, it has allowed us to discuss openly, frankly (couldn’t resist the pun), and without shame the male anatomy. Indeed, without planning it, Harry has been part of real-life sex education in this house.
As I think about it, he’d be an adorable sex-ed mascot. I could drive him around for regular visits to the local middle-schools (adoring middle-school girls have the ability to make him feel VERY happy and relaxed <ahem>)… but I’m not entirely sure he would be welcome.
Oh well. Their loss.
So here we are. And we have been a little sad around here, thinking that Harry is getting older, and he might be suffering.
Now don’t worry — the suffering isn’t too intense right now. It’s sort of like my aging suffering — getting up from the couch reminds me my hips are half a century old, and there’s a distinct popping sound that I’m not even alarmed by anymore that comes from my knees and ankles. In fact, his suffering doesn’t seem to affect his desire to sit under a tree for 6 hours hoping for a squirrel to miraculously drop out. Or dilute his desire to attack a water-hose to chomp on a jet-stream of water (remember the one-braincell thing?). Or lessen his desire to play tug-of-war with the squeakiest of toys for an interminable length of time with our youngest spoiled-brat canine. <headache alert>
But he is aging. And we’re sad.
He’s still a beautiful boy. More distinguished looking now. Very handsome.
And the best part is that the girls are no longer completely grossed out by his anatomy. In fact, Maeve exclaimed in a proud, happy voice just the other day: “Look Mom! Look how happy and relaxed Harry is right now!”
I didn’t have to look: I knew exactly what I would see.
(There are worse things than girls associating public displays of male anatomy with relaxation and joy… aren’t there?)
There’s probably a special place in h-e-l-l for parents who find humor and teaching moments in the most awkward situations. If there is, I’m fairly certain Harry will be waiting for me when I get there… panting, with his weiner-schnitzel hanging out.
In the meantime, we’re trying to make the most of our time with our sweet, unsuspecting sex-education mascot.
What wonderous, weird and wacky things have your pets taught you lately? I’d really love to know!
Wishing you joy, humor and grace in the everyday moments.