Greetings from Old People Camp

Barking up a new set of standards

suzdavis489@yahoo.comJune 16, 2013 

When my husband, Mick, and I got off the employment road at the retirement exit, we were confident that we could everafter live by the mantra of the petulant 2-year-old, “You’re not the boss of me!”

We relished the idea of no papers to correct, no irritating bells, no test scores to improve. We’re retired, living the good life with no one to dictate how we spend our time … Ha! So much for retirement planning. Now that we’re consistently here on the homestead, our every waking minute is controlled by our cats and dogs! It’s their mission.

Frank, so named for his bright blue eyes and penchant for crooning, is a Siamese who adopted us several years ago. He’s the mob boss and we’re his consiglieri.

Frank is an advocate of “small bites” in order to maintain his svelte figure, and consequently he’s hungry no less than 48 times a day. He meows, we jump. Why do we do this? Because he makes our life a living hell if we don’t!

The other cat, Mr. 20-Plus Pounds Overweight, is not a proponent of small bites, but oh well, as long as Frank’s eating he may as well too. Mr. 20, the Goldilocks of the cat world, must have his food juuust right — a slight mound in the center and a medium-sized bowl. He’s been known to get me out of bed at 2 in the morning because he has a hole in his food or his water isn’t fresh enough. Every cat knows that 9 p.m. water turns brackish by 2 a.m. Water freshened or not, he would never deign to touch lips to liquid. He daintily dips in his paw, and then licks off the H2O.

Then there is the everso-cute cocker spaniel with the freckles on her nose.

“What’s not to love,” she opines, as her head pops through the window (left open for Frank’s ingress and egress. Mr. Plus must go out the front door). She cocks her head and whimpers a subtle message, “I was the beloved dog of your mother who is now in heaven. SHE would let me in.” Or sometimes there is the surprise attack whereby Giant Wiener Dog, aka The Princess, lets herself, cute cocker, bipolar hound dog, Frank and 20-Plus all in through the office door. I keep trying to explain to them about the new carpet …

After considerable empirical research, I’ve developed a list of core standards for the animals of the realm. Of course, as with all educational expectations, these are more like guidelines, and are subject to frequent and nonsensical modification.


Successful dogs will apply their understanding and exhibit mastery in the following areas:

1. Chasing:

• Dogs and walkers on adjacent property (will demonstrate pursuit, catch and rear-end sniff techniques).

• Vehicles, (including but not limited to, motorcycles, trucks — more specifically UPS, propane, mail).

• Lizards.

• Buzzards (in flight).

• Scary things that come out of the garage.

• Jackrabbits.

• Cats that run.

2. Napping: • Shade (including under the picnic table and in holes dug in the dirt under the

• Sun (on top of the pansies, on the deck, in the dirt where the pansies used to be, preferably after bath).

3. Digging:

• After gophers (competence must also be demonstrated in extrication of the digger’s body even when only the digger’s tail is visible).

• In wood piles or brush (in search of the aforementioned lizards).

• Under the fence to practice standard No. 1.

4. Drooling (passive):

• While napping (see standard No. 2).

5. Drooling (observational):

• On owner’s bare feet while she eats a tuna sandwich.

• Watching Frank and 20 Plus eat 48 times per day.

6. Collecting:

• Maintain 97 sticks to masticate as needed.

• Be prepared to defend stick No. 43 if it is desired by any other dog.

• Collection shall be strewn on the lawn or in patio area for easy access.

• Occasional plastic flower pots or socks left outside may be added for variety and ambience.

7. Sounds and things which induce inconsolable shaking and fear:

• Fireworks.

• Thunder.

• Gunshots.

• Coyote howls.

• Rocket launches.

• Cats that don’t run.

8. Rolling:

• In anything that has been dead longer than three days. • In bovine excretions (fresh).

9. Sounds and things which induce blissful joy (expressed by one or more of the following: nonstop barking, jumping on people, dancing on hind legs, tail wagging, general leaping and bounding, licking and slobbering):

• Doorbell.

• Car arriving.

• The spoken words, “walk” or “dinner.”

• Cat food poured into a dish.

• Arrival of Annabel — the other grand dog.



Oh puu-leeze.

Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs.

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