“Your dog is so cute, how old is she?”
How many of you can relate to hearing that phrase uttered within seconds of meeting someone new? Perhaps you are the person doing the uttering?
We don’t ask fellow human beings how old they are within moments of meeting them, so what then, exactly is the fascination with a dog’s age?
The age-old adage that one year of a dog’s life is the equivalent of seven years to a human. We now this not to be true. There is even an online conversion scale to help determine your dog’s true human age.
Of course, a dog’s genes, breed , size, emotional factors, and existing health conditions will all affect his or her longevity. According to Dr. Marty Becker, the first year of a dog’s life gets him over the first hurdle of adolescence. The second year brings him closer to full adult physical maturity, but mental maturity ma y still be blooming. At this point, aging depends on the specific dog. So while a Great Dane, he says, might be a senior at age seven, a Chihuahua will be a senior at age 11 and up.
Bottom line: Every dog develops and ages at his or her own rate.
Why Do We Ask a Dog’s Age?
For dog mom, Devri King of Lindsborg, Kansas, most of the dog parents she meets have the same connection with their dog as she does. “I just find it heartwarming to know how long the furkkid/dog parent have been together,” she says. “It’s nice to hear the age they adopted/rescued their dog.”
June Myers, of Oklahoma, tells folks she meets how old her dog, Buster is. “I am proud of how young he looks to be at 15-1/2,” Myers beams. “For puppies, I might ask their age, but for the most part if people want me to know how old their dog is, they tell me.”
How to Reply
For some pet parents, asking a dog’s age sets us back a bit. Do you find that folks ask how old your dog is and perhaps a little twinge erupts in the pit of your stomach? Here’s a scenario that might help next time around:
What they say: “How old’s your dog?”
What you say: “Ten [or anything deemed ‘old’ in this society].”
They return: “Wow, that old.” Or, my personal favorite: “He’s a senior citizen.”
You say back: “He still thinks he’s a puppy and in my heart, he’ll always be one.” (I stopped saying, “She won’t tell me even though I card her every time she wants a shot of whiskey in her water bowl.”)
If snark isn’t quite your thing, you can forego that last comment.
We are a curious society in general. Social media contributes to our overall candor and dropping of the previous curtain of limits. We are more vocal. We see pets in stores like PetSmart and we are curious and we want to bond, compare, contrast, and see if our pet measures up.
Asking People Their Age
When is the last time you asked someone how old they are? For me, unless the person doing the asking is a bartender or carding me for a specific legal reason, age is off limits. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from asking each other and talking among themselves.
Question: Do you ask about a dog’s age when you meet a stranger and his or her dog? Does it bother you if someone asks you your dog’s age?