Grumpy old dogs

Boomer and Max have been buds since they were puppies. Moments after first getting a whiff of one another, their eternal wrestling match was on.

Max, a chocolate lab, was only a handful of weeks old, Boomer, my golden mutt, was a little over a year old. Their significant size difference meant nothing. They went at one another like two WWE titans. This was for the ultimate prize: top dog of the pack.

The humans in the pack were my mom and me. Boomer was the first canine to join up. Mom adopted Max a year later. Their bond was instant; their intentions evident. Each dog wanted the other to know this was going to be a lifelong wrestling match.

By virtue of his early size advantage, Boomer won top dog honors. He sealed his fate one day while eating the new puppy’s food. As Max approached the bowl, Boomer let out a beastly growl that said: Back off or I’ll chew your head off: I’ll eat your puppy food anytime I want!

That settled that. Boomer won. Max became his loyal sidekick. They couldn’t be more different. Boomer is sensitive, moves like a panther. Max is a bull in a China shop.

Over ten years later, the two dogs still wrestle when given the chance, usually egged on by me shouting “wrestle!” They’ve spent many years together and many years apart, but they’re still wrestling buds.

Nowadays, Boomer’s age 12 and Max is age 11, meaning both dogs suffer from the aches and pains of growing older. Max’s 100-pound tank of a body is showing its age more. His limp is more frequent and more noticeable, his breathing often hampered by some kind of internal pain.

Boomer still retains much of his lighting quick agility that reminds me of a graceful running back, but my golden mutt is a great athlete who’s visibly past his peak.

Despite old age, their spirits are willing. Boomer still gets feisty and revved up after dinner, ready to take on all comers, especially his loyal sidekick. Max is always up for whatever’s Boomer’s up for, even if Max has to fight while lying on the ground.

Anymore, their wrestling has been downgraded into a lot of woofing and barking, like two elderly boxers who used to spar ferociously, but are now reduced to sparring with words, gestures and blows that only land on thin air.

Still it makes both dogs happy, which makes me happy, and a little less worried about getting them some exercise. For even though they’re only shadow boxing, wrestling still wears them out, something that always makes me a little less grumpy.

Note 2 Self: You need to write a whole lot more of When In Doubt, Pet the Dog, a periodic blog column or journal thingy, now and forever at Randy Boyd’s Blocks.