I’ve rabbited on in the past about how dog ages work (if that’s the right phrase). Well it’s time to do so again, this time in reference to Solomon, the most handsome member of the family by some measure, and with the aid of this useful chart that I’ve pilfered from the internet, and, by that very act, am naturally taking as factually correct:
A note about the chart, to start with. It shows three types of dog. S/M looks drop-kickable, so wouldn’t pass one of the strict entry criteria into the Emu household. For similar reasons, L looks like he/she wouldn’t last too long around here, on account of ‘trying too hard’. Much as we might all like a Jackson 5-style Afro and Flashdance legwarmers in their place, that place really didn’t ought to be a dog. Fortunately XL actually looks like a dog should look, IMHO, so there is a place in our hearts for this chart after all.
Solomon is 9 months old, which places him fairly and squarely in the teenage angst section of the chart, giving the current adolescent residents of Emu Towers a nice, if volatile, spread of 14, 16 and 18 years old. Meanwhile, Luna (or THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH), if you’ve been paying attention), myself and Mrs E are all in the right hand side of the picture, and we’ll all feel rather short changed if we pop our clogs before we hit the 108 mark.
As an adolescent male, Solomon has been going through what we might generally call a ‘difficult period’. In particular, he’s struggling to come to terms with all sorts of strange things happening in the back quarter of his body. On the plus side, it’s made it very easy to tell him apart from Luna on a walk – they go along side by side, they’re almost exactly the same height and colour, but his legs are about four inches further apart than hers and he walks a bit like John Wayne after a taxing afternoon down at the Alamo. And there’s a certain pride to the way that he holds himself- standing, sitting or lying, he seems to be able to (and I can’t think of a delicate way to describe this) display his cojones fully to the watching world. I don’t think there has been a picture taken of him in the last few months (and, being a doting family, there are many) which haven’t featured his new-found masculinity front and centre frame.
The negatives all rather outweigh the positives though. As I mentioned, he’s struggling, and he doesn’t really know which direction to take his particular brand of testosterone into. He’ll get excited and bark at any little thing that catches his eye. He’ll play really excitedly with a squeaky toy. He’ll rub himself energetically against anything that happens to be near him including Luna, provoking cries of:
“Get off her Solly, she’s three times your age!”
Although, with reference to the chart, it appears that in dog terms she’s’only’ twice his age, so technically more a Donald Trump objection than a Hugh Hefner, if you know what I mean. He’ll move on from Luna to an unsuspecting piece of furniture. He’ll stop, bend over, and apply a bit of a lick and a polish to his bits. He’ll run round in circles for a bit. He’ll lie down on his bed and (I swear this is true) have a bit of a cry.
And these things can happen in quite quick succession. I witnessed all of the above in one frantic two minute period a couple of weeks ago, and it was like watching a 120 second version of ’50 Shades of Grey’. Which, having sat through the whole film in real time, would have been hugely preferable.
Solomon is also nothing but an affectionate hound, and given any opportunity will move in for some sort of a cuddle. He’ll nuzzle in to you, and his tail will start to wag, and he’ll make little satisfied murmurs, that make you know all is good with the world.
Unfortunately, there’s now another tell-tale indicator to show the world that he’s a happy pup. Mrs E first described this delicately as ‘his lipstick opening’. It took me, naive as I am, a while to understand what she meant, and it wasn’t until he actually tried to apply his lipstick directly to my face (and shoulder, and arm, and leg) that I really got it. So to speak.
Enough is enough, I thought.
“Get off now, and find someone of your own bloody species”, I shouted at him.
And looked around and noticed that Luna was next to me, looking surprisingly coy. Bloody hussy.
Fortunately, Mrs E and I have brought into the world; loved; fed; clothed; cleaned; nurtured; and are currently partway through an exit plan for, four adolescents of our own. So bringing up teenage boys, demanding, challenging and painful as it might be, should be second nature to us.
In some ways it is. Solomon’s behaviour reminds us quite a bit of the last few years of the awkward individuals, not all of them our own, who have hung around in our kitchen. I don’t think either of us actually witnessed any frottaging of inanimate objects, but that’s not to say that it didn’t happen. Just saying.
Similarly, I can’t remember any time when we’ve been out for a walk and one of our boys has seen another…well, look, you’re ahead of me already aren’t you, and there’s no need to finish that sentence. The point is, a limit has been reached, and after much consideration, the decision has been made. An appointment with the vet looms. Everyone in the family is worried about whether we’re doing the right thing. We broke the news to Solomon. It was hard to read his expression, but in amongst the teenage angst, I think there was also a dark and brooding disappointment at what might have been:
I’ll let you know what happens.