Eva Bradley: Where did all the dog years go?

By Girl Talk - by Eva Bradley


I've always thought that age was an attitude and so it was most upsetting and even a little bit offensive to get a letter in the mail this week saying my sidekick and partner in crime, german shorthaired pointer Greta, was officially old.

A permanent feature in my life and an occasional one in these column inches, Greta at eight-and-a-half years old is one of those highly tuned speed machines that powers through life with the sort of energy and enthusiasm that can make you tired just watching.

With her lean figure and long brown legs she is the sort of dog that makes others blush and as we make our way to the studio each morning, it's not uncommon to be repeatedly delayed by people wanting to admire and pet her.

The usual question is "how old is she?" because those who meet her universally expect her to be somewhere a little bit north of puppy but definitely south of fully-grown dog.

As a result, I have over the years come to see my little Greta as an ageless font of eternal youth, and the prospect of her eventual demise has never once occurred to me.

That was before this cursed letter. A wolf in sheep's clothing, it was from Greta's vet, very generously inviting her for a free health check now she had "reached her senior years".

As the shock of this information sank in, I read on in horror and learned Greta was now a fully paid up member of the vet's "Silver Whiskers Club' and got all the benefits thereof.

But was this really the sort of club a girl of a certain age wanted to belong to?

And how had she skipped to the seniors' sector when I was still anticipating dealing with all the problems inherent with a dog's interpretation of teenage angst?<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

If Greta has to belong to any gang I would rather it be the Mongrel Mob despite her full pedigree, than some arthritic institution for dogs with washed out whiskers.

Much to Greta's consternation I grabbed her by the collar and looked closely for the first time ever to see if there were any of these tell-tale whiskers in evidence.

Aghast, I realised there were. Greta had literally been growing old before my eyes and through neglect or unwitting denial, I had simply not seen it.

It changed everything. Suddenly I wondered about the wisdom of those 5km off-lead runs and felt perhaps it was time to switch to arthritic ambles around the block on a short leash instead.

Did Greta need a special blanket to cover her at night now and should we be spending more quality time together since time was suddenly rushing towards the end?

Every night we come home from a day at the coalface together and while Greta sits happily (and with a deceptive aura of youth) at my feet, I glare angrily at the letter from the Silver Whiskers Club.

There is a rock, a hard place and me and that letter caught right in between.

If I take Greta for her senior checkup, I am acknowledging that she actually qualifies. I might even get told all sorts of other ghastly things about her new status that I don't want to hear. If I don't take her, I'm neglecting my responsibilities.

Tonight for the first time ever, Greta is getting served biscuits "for the mature dog", and I'm going out of my way to hide the label from her.

I may have had my illusions shattered and Greta may in fact be pushing 60 in dog years, but I'll be damned if I ever let her see herself as anything other than Mummy's darling baby girl. Forever.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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