Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really. -- Agnes Sligh Turn
October 11, 2014 6:53 PM   Subscribe

 
I can't imagine that I can bring myself to read this article. However, I have often wondered why we don't specifically start breeding dogs for longevity.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:34 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine that I can bring myself to read this article. However, I have often wondered why we don't specifically start breeding dogs for longevity.

The candle that burns twice as bright burns only half as long, and dogs lives burn so very, very, brightly.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:44 PM on October 11, 2014 [36 favorites]


Aw, man. The *one* night the dogs are being boarded, for an open house tomorrow. I miss them terribly.

That was some good writing.
posted by notsnot at 8:05 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


If only I had a penguin...: However, I have often wondered why we don't specifically start breeding dogs for longevity.

Many small breeds have been unintentionally bred for longevity; a chihuahua, for example, will live for 15-20 years. One hypothesis is that larger animals, which result from more cell divisions, have to evolve additional protections to ensure that cell division doesn't get out of control and result in cancer. We've created small dog breeds in such short evolutionary time that they've still got the anti-cancer protections of a wolf-sized animal, but in a chihuahua-sized body.
posted by clawsoon at 8:25 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Many small breeds have been unintentionally bred for longevity; a chihuahua, for example, will live for 15-20 years.

Yes, this is actually why I adopted a chihuaha after my beagle died last spring. But 15-20 years is just an extra 3-5 years. I want a dog that lives to a health 80, please. Let's get on this. And yes, I have death issues.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:28 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I always thought the disparity between the lifespan of man and dogs was just further evidence that God's a total kneebiter and hates us.
posted by sourwookie at 8:42 PM on October 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


I too am a labradork
posted by grobstein at 8:53 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Look at it this way - the only thing worse than having a dog you love die would be leaving a dog behind, and you'd be practically guaranteed to with some dog/African Gray DNA monstrosity 80-year lifespan dog.

Be glad for the time you have.
posted by angerbot at 9:14 PM on October 11, 2014 [19 favorites]


The candle that burns twice as bright burns only half as long, and dogs lives burn so very, very, brightly.

Wow, hamsters must be awesome!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:17 PM on October 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


Hamsters live longer than pet rats, which are the cutest, smartest, sweetest pets I will never own, because rats live 2-3 years. Unbearable.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:30 PM on October 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


The octopus, which seems to be one of the most extraordinary creatures on this earth, only lives long enought to mate, and dies very badly, usually after only a few years.

Liife manages to perpetuate itself, but not always according to our values.
posted by maxsparber at 9:37 PM on October 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


If angels are indeed the mediators between God and men, then surely dogs are the mediators between men and angels. It's dogs who seem to effortlessly embody the virtues their human masters hold out as paramount—loyalty, kindness, guilelessness, protectiveness, selflessness—angelic virtues that we, their human overlords, rarely attain without overriding our own craven nature.

I absolutely needed this good cry now. That is a powerful, powerful essay.

It helps that I have been to that exact dog park and walked in the same spot in the Don - I don't have a dog because of life circumstances, but I will gladly go and just watch dogs. What could be more fun?
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:45 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the things that sucked so much about my marriage exploding was that I ended up in an apartment that didn't allow dogs and the ex getting to keep our black lab, Obi. That dog went from being my best friend in my lowest moment to completely gone out of my reach, and it's been heartbreakingly awful. He was the awesomest dog I ever owned.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:50 PM on October 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


"There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
"

Rudyard Kipling's 'The Power of the Dog'
posted by miaow at 10:29 PM on October 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


Why under heaven, before we are there, do we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Now I have to go snuggle my girl. (She's a rescue GSD, about 9, and slowing down. But still the sweetest and the prettiest.)
posted by suelac at 11:00 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


That prayer. The whole essay made me tear up repeatedly. Every dog I've owned had been the only dog in the world, and each one still lives inside of me.
posted by arcticseal at 11:28 PM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


We are not the only ones to miss the dogs
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:56 PM on October 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


I absolutely needed this good cry now. That is a powerful, powerful essay.
I had a couple.
My dog Quinn was neither of these dogs, but he was a creature of enormous personality. I could never match him for pure charisma and F/U.
He had a fine fight with his best dog friend the day before (leaving a deep gash over his eyebrow) I cuddled him as the injection slept him away.It was a good dog's life.
I'm scared of doing this again. So much joy, pissed off, completeness, ended with death. Existence in a short, clear bottle.
But.
I'm being a chickenshit.
There are way more dogs then good dog-people.
So, I need to buckle-up Buttercup and get another.
posted by qinn at 1:09 AM on October 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Why do domestic cats live so much longer than dogs?
posted by tgyg at 2:16 AM on October 12, 2014


This is one of the most beautiful pieces about dogs I've ever read. Thank you for posting it.
posted by invisible ink at 3:35 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post. As I was reading it yesterday evening, I looked over and took this photo of my best friend lying on the bed next to the desk, she was watching me carefully.. In looking at that image this morning, I'm nearly certain that those eyes are saying, "Do you see, Bob? Do you see why every moment we have together is so important to both of us? Don't waste a single one of them."

The sun is rising, we're going for a walk in the fog that seems to have enveloped the lake, the house and the woods, she's certain the deer will be there to watch and sniff at.
posted by HuronBob at 4:22 AM on October 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


If only I had a penguin...: Yes, this is actually why I adopted a chihuaha after my beagle died last spring. But 15-20 years is just an extra 3-5 years.

It's an extra 3-5 years compared to a beagle... which is also a reasonably small, long-lived dog. Be glad you didn't have a dog like a wolfhound or Great Dane, which only live for 6-8 years.

I want a dog that lives to a health 80, please. Let's get on this. And yes, I have death issues.

Some people with dog death issues get their dead dog stuffed.

It never works.
posted by clawsoon at 4:23 AM on October 12, 2014


however much you love, however hard you love them, that’s how much it’s doing to hurt.

It's worth it. But lordie does it hurt. Gonna go harass my old lab-mutt right now.
posted by DigDoug at 6:34 AM on October 12, 2014


I had considered getting an African Grey parrot simply because at my age, it would be bound to outlive me. My lab mix mutt turns 7 this year, and I'm beginning to have trouble with the idea that he's middle-aged already.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:37 AM on October 12, 2014


Um, did you ever consider that HUMANS LIVE TOO LONG? Huh, didja, huh? Who's a good human?
posted by spitbull at 6:38 AM on October 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


I suppose we should be grateful that our ancestors didn't domesticate the Mayfly instead.
posted by fairmettle at 6:38 AM on October 12, 2014


tgyg: Why do domestic cats live so much longer than dogs?

Wild cats live a long time, too. When a wild animal lives a long time, it's often a sign that the species has developed pretty good protection against predators and starvation. In that situation, being capable of living a long time gives individuals a lifetime reproduction advantage.

So trees, probably. That's my half-baked guess. Cats can get away from predators by climbing trees, and they find lots of yummy animals to eat up there, too. Grey wolves and their doggie descendants aren't so lucky.
posted by clawsoon at 6:39 AM on October 12, 2014


Why do domestic cats live so much longer than dogs?

Evil keeps a heart beating. That's why cats live longer, and humans longer still.

Giant Tortoises may as well smell of sulfur and have forked tongues.
posted by DigDoug at 6:41 AM on October 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


I really wanted to like this, but I was put off by the unnecessary dig at people with children near the start. Yes, those of us who have a kid and like children are clearly "less interesting" than those with dogs. As if there isn't massive overlap between those with kids and those with dogs. (Full disclosure: love dogs, but own cats, because cats are generally easier.)

But really, that snarky comment made me interpret everything from that point forward differently, and made it harder for me to see lost love instead of melodrama. which is a shame, because the throwaway line could have been cut from the essay without changing anything else.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:34 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I knew I shouldn't read this and I went ahead and skimmed it anyway and... yeah, tears. My friends are in the next room preparing for tonight's Thanksgiving dinner right now. I guess I'll tell them it was the onions they're cutting.
posted by maryr at 8:10 AM on October 12, 2014


Wow that was beautiful and heart-wrenching. (Especially hard after having to put down my cat 2 weeks ago... The grief is still fresh.) Every time I feel the pain of the loss of my pets, I wonder why I put myself through it -- in fact, I have an uncle who was so heartbroken from the loss of a beloved dog years and years ago that he refuses to ever get another dog and face going through it again. Me, well, I just can't imagine life without the laughter that dogs bring.

I loved the description of how Beckett eventually learned how to go up and down stairs - that's exactly how my greyhounds have done it: he galloped up or down like a child who’s been given some onerous task they know won’t go away till it’s finished.

Gonna go hug my pup now.
posted by misskaz at 8:12 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


this is just a writer given indulgence to regain some ground lost in the recent cat coups.
posted by bruce at 8:54 AM on October 12, 2014


For dog owners who celebrate Halloween: dog pumpkin stencils.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:39 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Going to roll around on the floor with our labs the second I hit post comment.

I never knew that they all have individual personalities, just like people. & while it is very painful to say goodbye to them, the bright side is that we get to know very well more than one.
posted by yoga at 9:48 AM on October 12, 2014


Our eldest dog, Toby the terrier, has been on a slow fadeout the past year. He's 16-17ish, who knows, my wife rescued him 12 years ago. This was tough to read because today is it. The vet arrives in 6 hours for his final care. Even though Toby's never really been "mine". I've taken care of him now for 10 years and I'm crying. Trying not to for my wife, but this is the crappy end of the deal.

Toby in his younger days.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:14 AM on October 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


We said goodbye to our Bailey-boy last year, who was the best dog at our wedding six months before. It was crazy hard. Now we have a young hellion, Cora (perhaps even a bit younger than we intended). Sometimes she's infuriating, but it's really hard to be mad at something that loves you so damn much that every time they see you after an absence of 10+ minutes is a cause for celebration.
posted by triage_lazarus at 10:59 AM on October 12, 2014


If ya'll could refrain from posting TWO stories about aging/dying pets in the same day I'd be much obliged.
posted by Grandysaur at 12:50 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


My friends are in the next room preparing for tonight's Thanksgiving dinner right now.

are you a time traveler or a canadian
posted by poffin boffin at 12:55 PM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


neither.

mind blown????

(I am visiting friends who live in Canada, a holiday we Americans and our host expats call Friendsgiving.)
posted by maryr at 1:01 PM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am a weak man. We had a lab. He was a great dog, great friend to both myself and my girls. Protector of all, he loved us without question. One day I let him out and he crashed into the fence and fell down. I helped him up and brought him inside. He lay on the floor and wet himself. I knew it was time. My daughters said good bye to Bill. I put him in the truck and took him to the vet. When it came time, I couldn't do it. I am a coward. I left Bill, oblivious to anything, there in the hands of the vet. I have regretted this my entire life. I am ashamed to write this now.
posted by damnitkage at 7:47 AM on October 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I needed a good cry today. And now (inevitably) I feel the need to share about the beautiful and heartbreaking dogs in my life.

I have always wanted a lab, but had to wait nearly 30 years before meeting my best friend, Kenobi (a ridiculous stew of a rescue mutt with predominantly black lab flavour profile). As kids, we never had dogs. As an adult, I was always too poor, with too many roommates, and not enough house, and not enough settledness to be able to give a dog the kind of life I wanted to give them. I made do for many years by pouring my love into my brother's golden retriever, Jasper. From the moment they carried him in the door as a fuzzy, sleepy, golden puppy, I loved that dumb, sweet, smelly, gentle creature more than I had any right to. When Jasper died, I was so sad, and utterly convinced that I would never have my own dog because I simply couldn't handle the inevitable separation. My brother's family eventually got a second dog, a Newf puppy named Watson, who is the biggest (literally) goon I have ever met, and the love affair started all over again (it's pretty damn hard to resist the slobbery kisses of a 100lb furry black bear). Last Christmas, while hiking in the mountains near my brother's house, Watson lost his footing while climbing on a boulder and fell nearly 60 feet off a cliff to land in the boulders at the foot of the cliff. It was horrifying. One minute he was gooning it up on the trail in front of me, his ridiculous enormous tail beating joyfully at the ferns and bushes along the path, the next he was out of sight and all I heard were his screams of fear and pain. Somehow, he survived the fall. and my brother (shell-shocked, pale, and chillingly calm) sat by his side for over two hours while my father, my boyfriend, and I ran the 5k back to the car, drove 20 minutes to my brother's house to collect supplies and try to get hold of an emergency vet (the closest one being an hour and a half from my brother's town), drove back to the trail, and hiked back up the mountain to the spot where Watson had fallen. Watson was still alive, but in incredible amounts of pain. We fashioned a sling/litter out of two hockey sticks and a backyard hammock, lined it with a blanket, and coaxed the 100lb dog into it as gently as we could. He was so scared, and hurting so badly, but after an initial failed attempt to walk away, he seemed to realize that we were trying to help, and he let himself be carried down that mountain in our makeshift stretcher. When we (finally) got him to the emergency vet, we braced ourselves for the worst as we listened to his yelps from the examination room. When the vet came out to speak with us, she seemed just as astonished as we were to learn that apart from a fractured paw and coxyx (serious injuries, to be sure), she saw no reason why he shouldn't, with sufficient rest and painkillers, be expected to return to a state of health and happiness, though we should probably be prepared for him to be a little slower once he was back on his feet. I was amazed, and relieved, but once again convinced that I could not handle the trauma of having a dog of my own who might die, or be injured. I was inconsolable about Watson's accident, and I just didn't think I was cut out to have a dog of my own, no matter how much I loved them and wanted one. I just wasn't strong enough to handle the hard parts of loving a creature who you are bound to outlive.
But that dog is an absolute miracle, and infinitely stronger than I am. He had no right to survive that fall, let alone the trek back down the mountain on a challenging trail. His recovery was long, and he had a few setbacks along the way, but just last week my brother ran a 10k with Watson, a dog who in December could not walk far enough to relieve himself and had to be carried outside twice a day. As of yesterday, he has not slowed down a bit, and is as goonish and ridiculous as ever, and is loving life every bit as much now as he did before his fall. He continues to romp around the house like a puppy, and cover everything that moves with slobbery kisses, and despite his size, still remains convinced that he is a lap dog and will snuggle his immense form into any lap that will have him. His resilliance, and will to live, and absolute unfettered joy for life are 100% intact. It's incredible, and wonderful to see.

Long story short, I'm in a very settled place in my life now, and after much soul searching following Watson's accident, and after coming very close to adopting several dogs but never quite feeling right about it, in January we met and fell madly in love with Kenobi, a very scared and heartbreakingly sweet rescue mutt who had had a very tough year of life before finding his way to a shelter. The minute I looked into his sweet eyes, I knew that there was no way I was letting this dog out of my life, no matter how much it's going to hurt when I eventually have to let him go.
It was the best decision I ever made. I treasure every minute I have with the infinitely forgiving, endlessly loving, and incredibly special creature that is, as I type this, curled up beside me on the couch with his sleepy head resting in my lap.
posted by Dorinda at 11:17 AM on October 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


What a wonderful story, Dorinda! You will be a great dog-parent!
posted by grobstein at 5:31 AM on October 15, 2014


« Older Crashing a pool party   |   My Africa Is... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments