Daze of My Life/The Dogís Honest Truth

by Kenneth B. Lourie

On June 10, 2004, my golden retriever, Bailey, celebrated his ninth birthday. In dog years that makes him approximately 50-years old, give or take, which makes him and me nearly the same age. A fitting point in time, I thought, given the auspicious nature of turning 50, to compare and contrast the lives he and I live and our similarities and differences.
First off, Bailey is a dog, a true and loyal dog, but still a dog. I am not a dog, in any sense of the word or its extrapolations. Regrettably for Bailey, he was neutered at a young age; fortunately for me, I was not.
Bailey enjoys being outside, where he can chase animals, bark at lights, roll in excrement, claw the ground and carry rocks and/or balls around in his mouth. I prefer to be inside, reading, writing or watching television, none of which interest Bailey. When outside, I donít enjoy or exhibit any of his behavioral proclivities.
As for Baileyís eating habits, he eats twice a day, breakfast and dinner, though the actual meals are identical. He eats out of a bowl on the floor while standing up and drinks water with every meal. He uses no silverware or glassware and appears totally unfamiliar and indifferent to the many uses of a napkin, other than chewing it into a million pieces, that is.
In contrast, I eat one meal a day, dinner, while snacking throughout the day.
Usually I eat sitting down, but occasionally I will also eat standing up, often leaning over the kitchen sink. Rarely do I eat out of a bowl, except for cereal and ice cream. Normally I do use silverware and glassware, but my napkin use, or lack thereof, has come under some criticism. I donít drink nearly as much water as Bailey does, but I donít exert myself as much as he does, though we could both stand to lose a few pounds.
He canít talk, and when he barks, only his dog friends know what he means. I can talk (boy, can he!), just ask my wife, Dina, but so too am I often not understood. Bailey seems very content to be by my side morning, noon and night. I like to be by myself as well. Bailey rarely brushes his teeth or bathes, but he does love to be scratched and massaged. Unlike Bailey I do bathe regularly and brush my teeth. But similar to him, I also enjoy being scratched and massaged. Bailey doesnít see his veterinarian unless we receive a reminder in the mail or I take him because we spot some medical problem. He doesnít seem to mind the ride or the appointment. Likewise, I rarely visit the doctor unless I receive a reminder from the female, (my wife, Dina), who spots some medical problem, but I do mind the ride and am always anxious about the appointment.
So far as I can tell, Bailey has no understanding or appreciation of money, although he does seem to know about 20 words. He graduated from obedience class when he was a puppy; in fact he received a blue ribbon for first place. He is a loving and affectionate companion, who seems excited to see me even after the most modest of separations.
I do have an understanding and appreciation of money, and I know many more words than 20. However, I never graduated from obedience class and never have I been awarded a blue ribbon for anything. I am also a loving and affectionate companion, and Iím likewise excited to see Bailey even after the briefest of separations.
In summary, I would say Bailey and I have more in common than not and more even that Iíve mentioned. Iím sure many of you readers find this column silly, but there comes a point, especially when you donít have children, when your pets become surrogates, almost, and as such, theyíre most definitely family, worthy of all the emotions and responsibilities therewith.
Bailey may be only a dog, but I may be only his owner. Itís simply a matter of perspective. It all depends on whoís telling the tail.
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.