How to Gently Tell Your Elderly Dog He’s Stayed Too Long at the Fair
By Gwen Cooper
Sometime later this year, I will turn 50. It will be a milestone of sorts—an opportunity to assess where I’ve been, where I’m going, and what I’d like to accomplish with the remaining allotment of years left to me. Mostly, though, it will be the continuation of a process begun long ago, well before I was even aware it was happening. Things will start to sag and other things that were sagging already will continue their inexorable southward drift. My hair will gray and my waistline expand even further. That I will have long since ceased to be the bright-eyed and twitchy-tailed “hottie” I was in my youth will be an uncomfortable truth, perhaps, but certainly an unavoidable one.
Sadly, I can’t lay any cultural claim to the burqa or self-immolation. But I was nevertheless raised with a proper sense of moral rectitude. Having reached the point where I’ve ceased to be an ornament to society—or an ornament of any kind—I will do the right thing. I will hide from public view (and from cameras, it goes without saying) to the greatest extent possible. It would, after all, be in extraordinarily bad taste to compel members of the public at large to confront their mortality by forcing upon them the grim specter of my own. Not to mention the embarrassment that always follows when somebody is so lacking in self-awareness as to apparently believe their company desirable—even welcomed—despite having outlived their fresh-faced, youthful visage.
Someone who clearly needs a close friend or loved one to step in and offer a bit of sage advice on this score—to gently encourage him to spend more time by the fireside and less in the limelight—is that Norma Desmond of pedigreed pooches, Champ the White House dog. Sure, in his youth Champ was a crowd-pleaser—fit and fun-loving, flying like God’s own fury after every tossed tennis ball or far-flung Frisbee. But that was then, and this is now. Nowadays, Champ’s once-taut belly sags with age. His haggard, wizened appearance inspires shudders of existential dread, no matter how adorably his tongue continues to loll out of his mouth.
Champ is now 13 years old, after all—which is 82 in dog years. The fact that there isn’t a law against being 82 already on the books can only be the result of the kind of “bleeding-heart” liberal policies so beloved by Champ’s human dad and his radical leftist pals.
That’s why we’re so fortunate to have courageous truth-tellers among us, like Newsmax’s Gregory Raymond Kelly and historian Craig Paul Shirley. Perhaps they used the word “dirty” to describe the appearance of Champ’s salt-and-pepper-flecked face (more salt than pepper these days, if we’re being honest), and “rough” to denote the fur that’s begun unevenly to thin in patches with age. Maybe they said that Champ looked like “a junkyard dog,” rather than just coming out and using that uncomfortable “O” word (old). But we all know what they meant. The comparisons drawn to previous White House dogs—Millie Bush, a sprightly 4-year-old when she assumed the office of FDOTUS, and Buddy Clinton, who was only a puppy—made the subtext perfectly clear.
That Champ has stayed too long at the fair is indisputable—and there’s nothing sadder than a dog whose day is already in the distant past, but whose loved ones can’t bring themselves to do the right thing and tell him so.
Which is why I find it so disheartening to see public opinion swing against Ted Cruz, who at least attempted to find an elegant solution to his own “aging dog” problem by leaving the family poodle to freeze alone in an unheated house—prudently off camera—while the rest of the clan passed a record-setting cold snap vacationing in Cancun. Memento mori, Snowflake. Don’t commit the Champ Biden error of trying to spend your future living in the past.
Gwen Cooper is the New York Times bestselling author of Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat; My Life in a Cat House: True Tales of Love, Laughter, and Living with Five Felines; Spray Anything: More True Tales of Homer and the Gang; and The Book of PAWSOME: Head Bonks, Raspy Tongues, and 101 Reasons Why Cats Make Us So, So Happy; along with numerous other titles. Her work has been published in nearly two-dozen languages. Gwen lives in Jersey City with her husband, Laurence. She also lives with her two perfect cats--Clayton "the Tripod" and his litter-mate, Fanny--who aren't impressed with any of it. Check out a full list of Gwen's titles on her Amazon.com author page.