L’il Sis and I were out driving the other day when I spotted a man walking a dog. Judging by its pace, I assumed it was a senior dog. “Oh, look at that sweet old dog!” I piped up innocently. I may as well have screamed several obscenities at the animal because L’il Sis lit into me immediately and with a ferocity I have rarely seen.
“How dare you call the dog old?” she snarled at me.
“Whoa, Lady, who lit your knickers on fire?” I asked.
“Sorry, Mom. It’s just that The Pig and I are sensitive to such blatant displays of ageism. The other day, when I took The Pig out for a walk, some lady came up to us and said that she was a lovely OLD dog. She’s not old — only 8. You wouldn’t go up to a PERSON and say, “You look old!” So why do people assume it’s okay to do it with dogs? The Pig is very lively and doesn’t look old at all. And she’s very sensitive. We were insulted.”
I stand corrected. Although I have to say, people are much kinder to old dogs than they are to old people. Old dogs are cute, generate sympathy, and are looked upon as assets. When is the last time anyone commented that old people (especially women) are cute or an asset to anything except to the cosmetics companies that generate ‘age defying creams’? No, usually we’re too busy being impatient with them (note how I said ‘them’, deflecting away from myself who technically speaking, qualifies as ‘senior’), trying to get past them when they walk slowly, criticizing them for not being able to see over the car dashboard, or ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist.
Dogs with greying fur are sweet. Nobody thinks they should have their fur colored to maintain the facade of youth. Wrinkles? Please…everyone loves a wrinkly dog. The Sharpei is a perfect example. They were even inspirational…think back to the Wrinkles stuffed dog fad of a few years ago. And who doesn’t love a bulldog? When they have bad breath issues, we still love them and, dare I say, do not shy away from doggie kisses or licks. Rotting teeth? We don’t send them in for dentures or implants or teeth whitening. If they gain a bit of weight around the middle (especially if they’ve had offspring), we don’t squeeze them into Spanx so they look better in tight jeans. And if they have bladder incontinence issues, we don’t suggest they wear Depends diapers. No, dogs have a better deal, generally speaking, than aging female humans. And, when they reach ‘the point of no return’, we send them peacefully into the great beyond with a sedative and quick needle. It’s all very civilized and compassionate.
So, as far as I’m concerned, The Pig can stand in line behind me to be offended by ageist comments. I’m pretty sure she’ll have more admirers sniffing around her at age 75 than I will!