Pretty much everyone knows the “dog years” thing—you know, that a dog’s age in years is seven times a human’s. So, for example, a dog that is seven years old is roughly at the same point as a 49 year-old human. (Unless the human watched the debate last night, in which case the human aged a year for every ten minutes, which really messes up the math. But I digress.)
I’m not sure why calculating dog years ever really mattered, except that as one theory suggests, it’s just a shorthand way of thinking about canine longevity relative to human longevity. Anyway, the bottom line about dog years is that it really has no basis in, well, anything.
The American Veterinary Medical Association calculates relative age as follows:
- 15 human years equals the first year of a medium-sized dog’s life.
- Year two for a dog equals about nine years for a human.
- After that, it’s easy: each human year would be approximately five years for a dog.
This article at the American Kennel Club website explains the reasoning and science.
I got to thinking about all this as the result of a really nice afternoon spent with our friends Chris and Larry and Greg yesterday. Greg has been a friend since our Urbana days. He introduced us some years ago to Chris and Larry, who you may recall adopted Harper, Beth’s third Seeing Eye dog. After a close call in which he saved Beth from getting hit by a car, Harper developed a heartbreaking case of canine PTSD, and Harper just couldn’t guide Beth anymore. In fact, when he moved to a quiet, leafy suburb to live with Chris and Larry, Harper wouldn’t even walk around the block. He was that traumatized.
Beth returned to The Seeing Eye to be matched with her current dog Whitney. And thanks to Larry and Chris’ care and patience, Harper’s doing great, goes for long walks now and loves playing with the other neighborhood dogs.
At one point during our time together yesterday, Larry said, in a careful tone, “I’m almost afraid to ask, but how’s Hanni doing?” Afraid, because he thought there might be bad news about Harper’s predecessor, Hanni—who’s retired and living in Urbana with our friends Steven and Nancy.
Larry was relieved when we told him that Hanni’s doing dandy and fine in her golden years, which total 16 in human terms. Seventeen come February. And he was tickled when I showed him the video Nancy sent last month of Hanni running full bore at a forest preserve.
Now, full bore isn’t what it used to be, and Nancy said Hanni slept for hours after her frolicking.
But it’s not bad for a 112, er, um, let’s see… 94-year-old golden/lab retriever cross.
P.S. Special thanks to Greg for his patience. I think he may have aged a month for every minute the rest of us talked about dogs.