Wed, Oct 31, 2012 12:33 PM
If I had followed the advice in these columns, I wouldn't even
have needed to make excuses. After all, a 60-pound,
hyper-energetic, combination Rhodesian Ridgeback/greyhound is not
exactly an aging-appropriate choice of pets for a guy my age.
But I'd always wanted a Ridgeback and the mixed breeds make Pepper
smaller than she would have been, 'though she is just as powerful
Did I mention Ridgebacks were originally bred to hunt lions in
Anyway, we were trying to clip her nails when she caught me in
the cheek with an unclipped toe. It didn't exactly tear my cheek
from mouth to earlobe, but it did make a very pronounced gash-sort
of swollen red doodle across my face. What it looked most like was
those badly healed scars gangsters have in B movies. You know, the
tough guy who likes to beat people up and gets killed in some
dramatic way that doesn't really move the plot along.
I made the first excuse to a lady I noticed staring at me in the
grocery line. I smiled and said, "Don't let anyone tell you
Chihuahuas aren't dangerous."
Then, to a little kid at the post office with his mother, "Never
run with scissors," I said, touching the scar, "It isn't worth
"If you decide to take up fencing, make sure and get a proper foil;
you can't just find a couple of skinny swords and start practicing
with a friend," was the how I put it to the postmaster.
To my neighbor the explanation was that I had injured myself
while cleaning a hunting knife.
When a fellow just flat out asked me how I got the scar I answered,
The only place I actually told the truth was at the pet store
when we brought Pepper in to get the rest of her nails trimmed. The
clerk was more than a little nervous when I cautioned her to wear
goggles and keep her cheeks covered. As I left her to do her work,
she appeared to be fitting on something like a goalie's mask.
There were others like, 'I'd have settled for a prison tattoo if
they had given me a choice' or 'I have my reasons for not trusting
parrots.' All in all, it has been a lot of fun. As the wound heals
and my wife, Kelly's, efforts make it increasingly unlikely there
will be a permanent scar, I'm relieved and a bit saddened.
In the future, Pepper will get her nails trimmed professionally.
And I have made a solemn promise that if there is a next dog, it
won't stand higher than my shins. After all, Aging in Place doesn't
happen by accident.
Scott Funk is Vermont's leading Aging in Place advocate,
writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to
retirees and their families.