Last week was my little dog’s annual checkup at the vet. The news I got was not what I expected. 
The vet said, “While Sandy is in very good health for a 10-year-old dog, she is pushing 70 in human years. I’d like to see her lose a few pounds, brush more frequently and get more exercise.”
It sounded strangely like what my own doctor had said to me recently. Not only had I neglected my dog, I had neglected myself. Guilt crept over me like kudzu. Then he handed me a colorful brochure for “Canine Geriatric Formula.” I bought the giant bag. I also picked up doggie vitamins, treats for healthy gums and therapeutic shampoo for thinning hair – which I am sure is just around the corner. It probably wouldn’t hurt if I used the shampoo as well. I did notice quite a few more hairs in my brush lately.
I could see it all now. Sandy gumming her Canine Geriatric Formula and me with mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, tapioca and a side of prunes. Later, we’d curl up in the recliner under a throw I crocheted myself, reading the latest edition of Reader’s Digest, large print edition. Did I mention that my computer spam had recently included products such as “invisible” hearing aids, walk-in bathtubs and cremation services?
I was going over the hill and Sandy was going with me. What can I say? I never thought this day would come. Somehow I expected to coast from 50-something into some vague stage of somewhat past 50, but not really landing anywhere. Suspended, David Copperfield-like, not really touching down in the wrinkle zone, arthritis arena or the liver spotlight. I’m sure Sandy’s not prepared either, but she hasn’t been put on notice by the Wagging Tail Pet Mortuary that they’re saving her a place.
When you think about it, dogs have it pretty good. No one is holding up a photo of Lassie and saying, “Isn’t she amazing? Had six litters of puppies and still maintains her youthful figure.” 
There are no doggie fashion previews of this season’s new looks featuring miniskirts (again), halter-tops and cutouts over body parts that no woman over 40 is prepared to expose. For dogs, fur is always in, even if it is thin. They’re aging dogs and that’s the way they are supposed to look.
Frankly, I am sick of Hollywood stars and super models being the standard for how older women should look. I am starting my own campaign to get Barbara Bush in a swimsuit as the centerfold in a popular magazine. OK, it may be the Smithsonian Monthly, but it will be a start.
Parents and their middle- and high-school daughters are invited to Lone Star College-Kingwood’s STEM Career Nights, April 14 and May 4, from 6 -8 p.m. in the Student Conference Center. Meet some of Houston’s most outstanding women in science, technology, engineering and math. Questions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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