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Women's Health Blog

Boomer Unchained: Great Time to Adopt a Dog

Duncan, Sue's dog


When my dog King died a few years ago, I decided I was not going to own another. There was no way I could replace him, and didn’t want to try.

Plus, I was in my late 60s and decided that being without a dog allows me the freedom to visit my adult sons in California, to travel, to volunteer, and to simply come and go as I please, and to not face unexpected, costly pet medical bills. 

Then I met Duncan, a 10-year-old rescue Jack Russell terrier in foster care with a Lewes family.  He had been turned into the Fairfax Animal Shelter, and then found by the Mid Atlantic Jack Russell rescue folks.

It was early March, days before we realized how serious Covid-19 was.  

Duncan was walking on Lewes Beach with his foster mom, her neighbor friend, and a collection of dogs, four of which were Jack Russells. 
Duncan smiled at me. Really. Right there on the beach. He is very cute and seemed so sweet.  I must have been in a weak moment. 

Duncan in Sue's bed

I had a trip to Florida planned the next day. Before I left for the airport, Duncan’s foster mom brought him to my condo for a ‘home visit.’ He loved the place and within a few minutes had run around to check over every room. He found a chair he liked on the wrap-around porch, jumped right into it, and looked out the window that gave him a bird’s eye view of the grounds in my development. Looking back now, I imagine he thought the grounds came along with the chair, and that they would be part of his domain. Today, he acts like the entire development belongs to him.

That day of the home visit, he turned and looked up straight into my eyes with his deep brown ones as if to ask, “Can I live here?”

My heart melted.  I felt that warm and fuzzy feeling building inside, that feeling you get when your dog wags his tail and jumps into your lap to lick your face, and the feeling of unconditional love. I felt the friend in the car with me, sharing adventures with me. I also had a pang of discomfort, like heartburn, of having to arrange for dog sitters when you are gone for more than a few hours, for having to walk out in the snow at seven in the morning, and for vet bills.

But, to make a long story short, I now share a condo with a Jack Russell. Like Eddy on Frazier, his favorite place to sit is on the back of the sofa.  For him, “Go to bed” means “jump into my bed,” bypassing the fluffy one on the floor. He is house trained and has a wide vocabulary of English words – “Heel,” “Out,” “Eat,” “Dinner,” Hungry,” “TREAT,” “Toy,” “Walk,” “No,” “CAR,” “Go,” “Come,” “Sit,” “Stay,” “Wait,” “Paw,” “Do you want?” – just to name a few.

Luckily, he loves people, being in cars, hugs, kisses and cuddles.  His only real fault that I have discovered in three months is that he barks ferociously when he is on a leash and sees another dog.  Considering I live in a development where lots of people walk dogs, that’s problematic. Well, he did try and bite the groomer, and his vet records show he tried to bite a vet during an examination, and the kennel owner said he has problems with fences, but that he’s still “boardable.”  ANYWAY… He is a Jack Russell - Bouncy, energetic, lovable and opinionated. Very opinionated. 

Duncan with the gang of Jack Russells

I telephoned local dog trainer Nancy LaFontaine in early June to see if I could get some pointers on the barking-at-dogs-while-walking issue. It definitely takes away the joy of walking, not to mention the fact that he scares a lot of other dog owners. (He weighs 17 pounds, BTW).

She was booked for weeks. She finally called me and set up an appointment for the end of June, saying that with the pandemic, people have been getting dogs – buying puppies and emptying out shelters. Hence, this subject. I’m sure I am not not the only ‘baby boomer’ who has been pet challenged, instead of having plenty of time to read books and doing Zoom gatherings. She gave me some pointers, like keeping him on a “heel” when we see another dog coming. It does work, sort of. I still look forward to getting with Nancy. 

Duncan gets me out walking, a good part of a healthy lifestyle.

Gratefully, he pees on command so the before-bed pee break is really fast.  My cupboard is filled with dog food and dog treats, and every pocket I have has poop bags in it.  The dog brush now sits on the Korean chest near the front door so I can brush him outside on the front porch. Jack Russells shed. 

We have a once-a-week walk with his foster mom and a group of Jack Russells. Visiting the dog park is still up in the air because he wants to be in the big dog side and the big dogs don’t want to play with him as he annoys them.  So, he barks and barks through the fence at them and ignores any friends he might make on the little dog side. I think he is confused about his size.

The other day he met a little chihuahua/dachshund mix name Greta and played with her. They were adorable. Just the right size for each other. He didn’t seem to mind that she was smaller than he. Unfortunately, she lives in Pennsylvania and was just visiting.  

So, life goes on. I have become a dog owner again, arranging my days so that he gets his walks and meals at regular times. He has scheduled my days, and has kept me up and out of bed before 7 a.m. and walking miles, rain or heat and humidity. 

It will be interesting to see what happens when this pandemic is over, and we can be with people face-to-face instead of only on Zoom. 

I don’t know what Duncan will think as he has enjoyed having me, his new ‘person’ at his beck and call, and has even begun to recognize people on Zoom.

Susan Towers, 2020

Susan Towers

Susan L. Towers, M.S., retired from Beebe’s Marketing & Communications department in 2017 to pursue her writing, and to experience new adventures with friends and family. She has published stories in Delaware Beach Life magazine, as well as two fiction short stories in anthologies. She is member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild and the American /Society of Journalists and Authors. She is an advocate of the arts and humanities, and is passionate about the outdoors.