Published July 04 2010
Swift: Canine suffering a midlife ‘cur-sis’Jake is having a midlife crisis.
Or, more appropriately, a midlife cur-sis.
For the first eight years of his life, our Golden Lab was the sweetest of canine citizens.
His tail wagged as if his cardiovascular system depended on it. He loved all creatures – two-legged, four-legged and, in the case of one bedraggled farm dog named Ned, three-legged. He listened to most commands, unless distracted by birds or UPS trucks. He was gentle with babies, kitties and parakeets alike.
Oh sure, he had his own little hang-ups, like most of us do. He was afraid of thunderstorms, barbecue grills, veterinarians, vacuum cleaners and the bathtub. And, despite his retriever pedigree, he refused to wade into water deeper than his belly.
But a few months ago, Jake started to rebel.
This makes sense because it happened roughly after his eighth birthday. (That’s 40-something for you and me.)
Obviously, he is feeling his age. Apparently, Jake is searching for his meaning in life. “Surely,” he must think to himself, “there is more to life than drinking out of the toilet and acting enthused whenever someone yells ‘squirrel!’ ”
To make matters worse, early surgical intervention has made it impossible for Jake to act out his midlife frustrations by poodle-izing.
And so he hasn’t rebelled the usual way: by getting hair plugs and howling around town with a much younger, heavily groomed Shih Tzu named Brianne.
Instead, he has turned into a bad boy. In the last three months alone, he has found more trouble than he did in his previous seven years.
This includes, but is not limited to, the following rap sheet:
- Kibble kleptomania. He used to only filch food from his little sister’s bowl when we were in another room, but he’s now become so brazen that he’ll gulp down Kita’s Dog Chow in plain sight. It’s as if he’s saying, “Yeah, go ahead and yell at me, you bald weirdos. The sweet, sweet taste of Venison-Rice Stew with Gravy is worth it. Besides, you two look like you could make a few less trips to the pizza buffet yourselves.”
- Porcupine pugilism. He rumbled with a porcupine, earning a painful quill goatee in the process. After a harried trip to a vet assistant’s home – and much hysterical howling (most of it from me) – he was de-quilled. In the process, he has hopefully learned all kitties are not alike, and some are much pointier than others.
- Landscaping, Lab-style. He has dug up one portion of my flower garden so many times that it’s become a hopelessly barren, sunken spot. He has insisted on doing this, even after I’ve liberally marinated the area in everything from hot pepper spray to some so-called “pet repellant” that smelled like rotting eggs.
Even more appallingly, he possessed the keen criminal mind to dig the hole just small enough to cover his tracks. I would look at the latest fresh excavation and think, “There’s no way Jake would do that. That looks like something the neighbor dog did. Maybe he just got in with a bad crowd.”
(Oddly enough, this is also what Lucky Luciano’s mother thought after he opened his first bootlegging operation.)
But eventually, the law caught up with him. He trundled into the house one night with black, gummy earth all over his front paws. I switched on the garage light to find dirt and half-dead petunias all over the driveway.
See? Bad, bad dog.
Just call him Lucky Droolsiano.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org