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The Cranky Old Retired Lady
Opinions, wailings and observations of a cranky, old retired lady on life after 50.

Doggedly Pursuing Pups

When I retired from a busy working life I decided to get a dog.  I always wanted a dog.  My visions were for long, leisurely walks with my camera slung over my shoulder (one with REAL FILM and not some phone camera) on the country roads that surround my home.  Said dog would keep me company, because you know, retired people are all lonely people. Unless you are in Florida, where apparently no one is lonely because they have discovered casual sex.  I am glad to report we did get the rock-n-roll and drugs part of the equation correct ‘cause we like us some vintage Seger (Bob not Pete) and at our ages we are ALL on drugs of some kind. 

When you look at various WHO studies and CDC statistics for STDs or VDs or STIs or whatever they call it these days, retirement-age folks are allegedly highly sexually active; we just don’t use “protection” and from what I understand monogamy at the ACME senior living facility is no longer in vogue.  News flash, we finally discovered the sexual revolution, the one we were too naive to participate in, or for you English majors out there, in which we were too naïve to participate.  We were just 40 years too late.   Since I don’t live in Florida with the swinging retirement crowd that seeks warmer weather, more company and uh, "companionship" I opted for a dog.  Much safer companionship if you wish to avoid embarrassing discussions with your family doctor regarding your private parts.   

The last decade of my working life my job was a usually an eight hour day with a two-hour round trip commute.  Since I didn’t want to put my dog in “day care” or a crate or come home to a living room full of scattered couch stuffing, broken furniture and shredded draperies amounting to a level of damage that could rival the havoc  generated by the Memphis Belle during a German bombing run, I figured ten hours of alone time was not a good life to give a dog.  Ten hours of waiting to pee while you contemplated why your owner abandoned you every day seemed an unfair fate to bestow on a loyal little beast waiting so patiently for your return home. So I waited to get a dog until I retired and was home all day and could be there. 

Getting a dog was a long process of research, prowling the internet, talking to people and finding a breed that matched my life style.  And it finally happened.  The French Bulldog, via rescue, appeared in my life complete with Heavenly choir music and sparkling shimmers of light—halo clad angels optional.  For those who are not familiar with the breed they possess enormous eyes that can stop you in your tracks.  Their smushed-in faces, complete with bat-like, oversized ears and huge heads are stuck onto short, stocky bodies that resemble curled up hippopotamuses (or is that hippopotami?) with short necks serving as connection for both features.  They are stubborn, don’t listen that well and prefer to sleep or lay on the couch most of the day and produce copious amounts of gas.  Since we older people tend to be stubborn, can’t listen that well without a hearing aid (the Frenchie most likely ate it if it is missing)  and generally spend the day sitting on the couch or sleeping producing copious amounts of gas, French Bulldogs and oldsters are a pretty brilliant match upon reflection.  Despite these enduring characteristics, I have two of these creatures living in ma “crib” in hilarious but perfect harmony.  Both are rescue dogs—throw-aways—for reasons I don’t fully understand but the heart breaker of the pair is Ruthie. 

When I sit on my porch sipping coffee in the quiet of my back-country, dirt-road-world I feel a certain amount of satisfaction.  As my other dog, Fen snores at my feet, Ruthie uses my fenced front yard to run.  She runs after butterflies, bugs and birds.  If it floats, flutters or flies she is captivated.  If she can’t track the birds themselves she track their shadows and gives chase stretching full out, leaping through the fresh green grass of an early summer.  She stops, turns making a wide circle and begins again chasing what she cannot catch until she flops down on the lawn or trots over to the kiddie pool full of water I keep in a corner just for her.  After getting warm from all that running, she climbs in like an awkward toddler struggling to climb into his crib pulling herself over the edge with front feet hooked on the edge and hind legs struggling to crawl over the edge to cool, delicious water. She drinks some and then trots around the tiny wading pool.  She digs the bottom of her water paradise enthusiastically with both front paws and then dives under.  She makes circles and flops down on her rotund, jet black belly enjoying a good soak until she is cooled off and then hops out and runs to me to stand up and plant her dripping paws on my knee.  It doesn’t matter if I get wet.  I don’t have to be in an office any more. 

So I sip coffee and listen to the birds and stroke the head of a one-eyed, five-year-old, ex-puppy mill dog that lived half her life in a tiny 3x3  foot cage until she became a liability and was dumped at a shelter a few years ago.  My other dog became had it some better.  He became too hard to handle and was given up by a couple but his life seemed more comfortable than Ruthie’s—his home was somewhat normal with a real house and real people who got him as a tiny pup and at least tried to be a family with him.  Ruthie was a commodity confined to a puppy prison factory—a sentence she really didn’t deserve.  My broken dogs—creatures that need far more attention than a working person could provide--in a way turned my retirement into their life preserver.  It worked out well for a cranky, old, retired lady and her two dogs.

The hour is late.  I have to go put my old records back on the shelf and check the lawn for wayward children and tell them to get off my lawn.  We seem to need it more than they can appreciate.  Peace all.

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