Fifteen dog years is not enough in human years

Scamp the Deranged Shih Tzu has done it again. He’s made our lives patently miserable, practically intolerable. And as you know, I’m not one to exaggerate.


Scamp the Deranged Shih Tzu has done it again. He’s made our lives patently miserable, practically intolerable. And as you know, I’m not one to exaggerate.

Well OK, all right, yes — I exaggerate all the time, in fact I’ve got a reputation for, shall we say, embellishing a bit when I’m trying to make a point, or perhaps whenever I open my big mouth, but I this time I wouldn’t exaggerate in a million years.

How do you measure 15 years? Fifteen dog years that is. A lifetime of dog years.

It used to be that you would multiply seven human years for every dog year, which, if my math is correct, 15 would be … really honkin’ old. Nowadays, I have discovered there are charts and formulas to more accurately calculate canine conversions.

You factor in 10.5 years for the first two dog years then add four more human years for ever dog year, unless your dog is a large breed or a small breed or a deranged Shih Tzu breed, and then you throw the calculator away and go find an adult beverage and possibly several Tylenol.

But I remember clearly the day nearly 15 years ago that we brought him home Scamp the Deranged Shih Tzu, six weeks old, wrapped preciously in the proud arms of the Better Half, flanked by both Rotten Kids, each of them with a hand on the soft puppy head.

Yours Truly videotaping the entire momentous occasion with a Sony handicam the size of a suitcase with a videotape format that became obsolete before Scamp’s first birthday.

At the time, our household was already ruled by Kitty, who by being a cat of the feline persuasion automatically reigned over the universe by immediately beating up on any and all four-legged intruders.

We also coveted our other dog, an elderly Lhasa Apso named Shirpa, which by virtue of his elderliness was one of the reasons we decided to get a puppy. We thought a new dog might perk up the old dog, and make his declining years “interesting” and “happier.” Oh, and we also had a singing budgie name Peek-A-Boo.

Within minutes, the entire food chain was lined up. The alpha dog growling at the new dog, who was yipping at the cat, who was eyeing the bird and licking her lips and ignoring everyone else.

So the years, as they tend to do, flew by. Our little bird had also flown bye. To Bird Heaven, where there are no cages and they have servant cats with no teeth and no claws. And our old Lhasa had incarnated to a Better Place, where it is always summer with perfect shade for meditating after chasing butterflies.

And then along came Scotty, the Cement Head West Highland White Terrier. He adopted us at the grand old age of eight (127 human years), much to the deep chagrin of the Deranged Shih Tzu, who remained the junior dog of the domain.

The cat immediately swatted the Westie on the nose, and the Cement Head just blinked, shook it off and carried on like nothing happened. He bled for two days.

Scamp doggedly pretended neither of them existed.

It was about that time that the little black and white skunk look-alike Shih Tzu gained a truly unhinged obsession with carrots.

As I may have exaggerated on several occasions, once upon a time we stepped out into our back yard to the uncanny sight of dozens of green carrot tops strewn about the lawn.

Scamp had attacked the garden, systematically digging up every single carrot (two rows), chomping them down like Bugs Bunny on a binge, leaving only the telltale tops. We thereafter always kept a stock of carrots for treats, and built a fence around the garden. (Which he got through on a regular basis, even after he became blind and deaf from diabetes.)

More years zipped on by and Kitty ascended to join the other royalty in the Feline Forever Kingdom, and good old Cement Head Scotty amused and amazed us for nine more birthdays before shuffling off his mortal canine coil to go chase squirrels and garbage trucks in the Land of Terrier Rainbows and Ratholes.

But this week I was measuring the Scamp years, and for the Deranged Shih Tzu the numbers are quite different than the mathematical scientific confusion formulas would scientifically indicate.

The number of walkies in 15 years: @ an average of five per week = approximately 3,900. The number of doggie potty piles in the back yard: say, two per day = 109,50 (a conservative estimate).

The number of canine diabetes injections facilitated with carrot treats: six years @ two shots/day = 4,380. The number of carrots consumed for no other reason than being spoiled: about eight billion.

But now, the important stats, the really important ones.

The number of headpats, belly rubs and ear tugs (on the dog): too many to count. The number of licks on the face (from the dog): several thousand slobbers.

The number of disemboweled stuffed animal toys (by the dog): a dozen or so. The number of times digging in his very own Christmas sock: 15. The number of times asking out in the middle of the night: way too many.

Creating smiles: a gazillion. Making the whole fam damily happy: a quadrillion times. The amount of times we wished we didn’t have a dog: a few. The amount of times we didn’t love the dumb mutt to a fault: always.

The amount of days we have left with Scamp the Deranged Shih Tzu: zero.

Scamp died this week.

We had to make the long walk. It was time.

The time we had been dreading. The BH and I couldn’t decide between fainting or throwing up and, unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating. But it wasn’t about us.

It was about Scamp the Deranged Shih Tzu, whose 15 dog years gave us forever years of memories, and who deserved the final gift of a perfect Carrot Patch in the Sky where he can see and hear and play and bark at Scotty and Kitty and Peek-A-Boo and dig up his favourite carrots while he waits for all of us.

But for now, the house is so terribly quiet and appallingly empty, and we can barely walk into the kitchen. It’s where we keep the carrots.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.

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