My puppy is now 12 years old. He doesn't move as fast as he once did. He doesn't hear as well as he once did.
Some things balance out. He knows a lot of words, such as "sit," "no," "down" and "out." He can't hear them that well, but he generally sits when I say "sit," because he can see me say it and sees my hand make the signal. There aren't a lot of times these days when I need him to hear me say "no," and he can't jump well enough to make "down" much of an issue. "Out" is easy because he catches on as I slip on my shoes, grab the leash and pick up a doggie bag.
"Leave it" means to ignore something, such as the huge dog snarling at him or a cat he is thinking about chasing. He ignores lots of things these days, so no biggie.
"Drop it" means I am the alpha and he has to drop whatever is in his mouth no matter how much he wants it. Also usually not a big deal in his old age.
Then there was Thanksgiving. I worked a nine-and-a-half hour day starting at 6 a.m., so I was planning to put a tiny pork loin into the oven with a few veggies and have a small holiday celebration before tucking myself in for an early night. To save cleanup time, the pork, onions and potatoes went into a foil pan. When they were beautifully browned and heavenly scented, I pulled out the 350-degree pork to put it on the stove top to rest while I heated up some peas.
Instead, the foil buckled, sending pearl onions in one direction, red potatoes in another; the pork loin went skidding across the kitchen floor.
I might have said a bad word, and then froze. Marty was in the doorway at full attention, eyes glued to the pork.
We dove for it at the same time, me shouting "No!" "Leave it!" "Drop it!" at the top of my lungs and him not hearing, or caring.
I didn't want him to bite into a 350-degree hunk of meat, so I shoved the oven mitt between him and the prize. There we are, on the floor, wrestling over pork loin. He finally snapped off a kielbasa-sized piece and ran off, me in hot pursuit.
I needed to stall him long enough so it would cool.
Into the den, into the living room, him trotting and growling, me yelling "Leave it!" and "Drop it!" Finally, I let him win.
Back to the kitchen to wash off the food, cut off the end of the loin where he bit it and heat it all. This time in a real pan.
I decided to add a glass of wine to the menu.
Guest Tall Tails blogger Anne Gregory is Web writer and editor at The Journal Gazette, coordinating the Critters page and Tall Tails. If you have a story or photo to share of your pet, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos need to be JPEGs.