Big dogs don’t usually live as long as little dogs. So at 10 years old, Archie is a bona fide geezer, crowding 70 in human years. His muzzle is whiter than my beard. He doesn’t see as well as he used to. He sleeps alot more these days. And he’s slower, and stiffer, getting up.
But he still greets each day as if it was the first one ever, and has the joie de vivre of a puppy when he’s chasing a ball, swimming in the ocean or frolicking in the snow. Despite being fed the same kibble day after day, he wolfs it down like it was prime rib. His daily doggie routines are just that, yet he delights in every toss of the ball, every smell, every passing shadow.
True, he has fewer worries than we do. His needs are taken care of. He doesn’t smoke or drink and gets plenty of exercise. And as far as we know, he doesn’t have foreknowledge of his own death. Even so, and without getting all anthropomorphic, his attitude is just about right. He’s happy to be here, now.
Who knows what, if anything, he’s thinking about in the 21 hours a day he’s laying around the house, snoozing or gazing into the middle distance from floor level. Perhaps he’s contemplating Nietzsche’s theories of human animality, or his own mortality. But probably not. More likely, he’s watching the floating dust motes in a beam of sunlight or thinking that it’s probably pretty close to supper time.
In their book Work Like Your Dog, Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber argue that we could do worse than to emulate dogs on the job – that is, tackle tasks with enthusiasm and energy, they say, and success will follow. And whatever you do, don’t multi-task. Did you ever see a dog trying to do two or three things at once?
If we extrapolate Weinstein and Barber’s advice for geezers, it might be to age like your dog. Meaning, take life as it comes. Don’t borrow grief by anticipating problems that may never arise. You could get sick worrying about getting sick. Enjoy the day -- be in the moment. And get a little exercise.