Dog Years

February 01, 2023

One of Zena’s favorite treats is the “pup cups” she received from our local chain burger drive thru.  Melissa would take Zena along for the ride when she ordered, and the teller would notice her prancing in the back seat.  The pup cup was a small container with a squirt of whipped cream, and occasionally a dog biscuit stuck in the middle.  That treat is one of many things lost as we are coming out of the pandemic, and it is sorely missed by Zena.  Zena turned “1” on Sunday, January 29th and I stopped at the grocery on my way home from work to find the ingredients for a homemade version of the delicacy.  We had the dog biscuits but not the canned whipped cream.  When I got home, I whipped up my version of a pup cup and sang happy birthday as a tribute to Zena’s first year of life.  It reminded me of the saying that every human year is calculated as seven dog years.

When I looked online, I found the idea of “dog’s years” is another myth we get tricked to believe.  While it may be easy to multiply your dog’s age by seven it does not accurately convert to human years because in their early year’s dogs mature more quickly than humans.  The first year of a dog’s life is equivalent to the first 12-15 human years.  The second year of dog life equals 9-10 human years, and each year after that equals 4-5 human years.  That means a dog’s calendar year could equal anywhere from 4-15 human years.  This calculation also depends on the dog’s stage of life, as well as their size.  Smaller breeds tend to have longer life spans than larger breeds.  Small breed dogs are considered senior at the age of 7 calendar years, while large breed dogs might be considered seniors at ages 5-6.  Given Zena’s large size (80 pounds/36kg), she is already the equivalent of 15 human years.  She will be in her puppy stage up to 15 calendar months, her adult stage up to 6 calendar years, a senior until 8-9 calendar years, and “geriatric” when she is over 12 calendar years.  It was easier to just multiply by seven to find the dog years.

When I celebrated Zena’s birthday it also reminded me that January 29th is Kansas Day.  Kansas became the 34th state on January 29, 1861.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the two territories to settlement and allowed the new settlers to determine whether the states would be admitted to the union as “free” or “slave”, making it a territorial battleground known as “Bleeding Kansas.”  A hundred years later, Kansas was a battleground of the civil rights movement with the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954.  The Supreme Court decision effectively ended the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public schools.  Kansas is also known for its contributions to jazz music, barbecue (Kansas City), and as the setting of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s book, The Wizard of Oz.  The dog who played Toto in the movie was a small breed dog who was 10 (or 56 dog years) at the time of filming.  Toto’s biography says she “died in 1945 at the age of 13 (that’s 91 in human years).”  Yet another myth perpetrated as truth.

THOUGHTS:  When I was in Elementary School the art segments of my school day consisted of coloring pictures of that had been mimeographed (look it up) by the school office.  These were then hung along the wall up for mom and dad to ooh and aah over on Parent’s Day.  That meant pumpkins and turkeys for Thanksgiving, Santa’s for Christmas, and heads of presidents in February (Lincoln and Washington) which were all relatively easy to color.  That was not the case for Kansas Day, and we were taxed trying to color the small sunflower and state seal in the center of the flag.  It was times like these I longed for dog years to give me time to finish.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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