Do Dogs Ever Retire?
As I approach the fourth week of my retirement and adjust to all of the many changes, it occurs to me that our dogs have probably been affected by my retirement as well.
I started to ponder whether or not Frederic, Mildred and Tarquin are also settling into retirement.
And are they affected by the pitfalls of retirement that I am also grappling with? - loss of identity, loss of structure, loss of purpose, depression, boredom, possible lack of personal interaction and knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off? Frederic is certainly eligible. In dog years, he would be 70, and the other two, both in their 30's (in dog years) should certainly be doing their planning for retirement.
So let's start with loss of identity.
This is often a problem for people who strongly identify with their jobs. When someone would ask me what I did, I could easily say, " I am a librarian." Now if someone asks me "What do you do? - what do I say? This forces us retirees to contemplate the question, "Who am I?"
Just as I must cope with my own identity issues after having been a librarian for 40 years, likewise the dogs have their own identity issues.
If you were fans of my old library blog, you may remember Mildred's stellar performance as Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Librarian."
or her portrayal of The Ghost of Christmas Future in "A Christmas Carol."
Her pointing her paw toward Scrooge's doomed future, if he didn't change his ways, was described by critics as "chilling."
Or what about Tarquin's wonderful portrayal of Liberace in the remake of "Behind the Candelabra," which critics said rivaled Michael Douglas.
And no one can forget his hilarious turn as the rabbit "Harvey."
Likewise Frederic, the more serious actor of the three, won accolades for his version of The Phantom in "The Phantom of the Opera. "
Now that they are no longer actors for my blog, how do they describe themselves when sniffed by a dog friend and asked "What do you do?"
Who am I?
Loss of Structure
In retirement, we might revel at first thinking that we can now do whatever we want whenever we want. We don't have to report at 8am, work overtime, or take orders from anyone. But that can pose it's own problems.
How do we structure our days so they are meaningful?
Before I retired, the dogs' days began at 7:15am, as I would stumble down the stairs (I have never been a morning person), and they would bark their bark that said, "Give us our treat!"
While I was at work, their days consisted of guarding the house,
and fighting over the rope bone.
At exactly 5:15pm they would take their position at the door, start barking as I approached, and the "yay, she's home treat" was handed out.
Now that I am home all of the time, they don't know what's going to happen.
For one thing, that morning treat doesn't happen until at least 9am, unless I have an appointment. While they try to maintain their structure of guarding the home, I might call them to the bedroom to watch "The View" or a Lifetime movie with me. While trying to maintain nap time, on a whim, I might get out the clicker to work on some impromptu training or tricks. They are totally thrown off their routine.
Loss of Purpose
When one has a career, especially in the community service sphere, it is not difficult to find purpose.
Every day at the library, I knew I was making a difference - from the many new U.S. citizens who graduated from our citizenship classes to the non-English speakers getting help with their English to the students in my computer classes, whose lives were enriched by finally mastering the computer. I answered many questions that I knew made a difference in people's lives. I always felt that if people really understood all of the free services available at the library, they would be beating the doors down. Now that I don't have that daily experience, I must find a new purpose to my life.
So, too, it is for the dogs.
They are no longer needed to guard the house, because I am here. In fact it's a pain in the neck when they bark their heads off every time the FedEx truck drives by, so they get yelled at a lot for that.
They are now no longer needed to act excited when I come home because I am always home.
They are not needed as actors in my blog, as I have decided that it is a cheap trick to use dogs and babies to get laughs.
I am more serious than that.
So now they need to change gears and find more meaningful activities.
Depression and Boredom
Depression is a very real problem in retirement, once the "honeymoon phase" is over.
Yes, it's great to be able to get up when I want and do what I want when I want, when for over 40 years I worked for someone else and had to adhere to a schedule. But once that becomes the norm, then what?
It could result in depression and boredom, as it becomes clear, this is it.
The days spread out endlessly ahead for as long as you have left. Alcohol and substance abuse can be a problem for people as they age.
It's no different for dogs.
It's already a problem in our house.
Lack of Personal Interaction
This is an issue I worry about most.
While working, it's easy to set up dates with colleagues to have a drink after work or go out to eat. Once you are no longer one of the gang, you are often forgotten. It's now necessary to take action to socialize, something I didn't have to do before. Add that to the fact that we moved to Seattle 10 years ago not knowing anyone, and there is an added barrier to a social life. Not being a big joiner, I have had to make an effort to get out there with my fellow humans.
For the dogs, they have hardly ever socialized with other dogs, mostly because when I was working I liked to stay home on my time off. OK, I was just too lazy to take them out that much, because they are not very well behaved.
Frederic routinely snarls at other dogs and talks smack, which is something relatively new. I think retirement also makes you crabby.
Tarquin and Mildred are OK, but once when we took them all to a huge dog park in Seattle and they were off leash, they stuck by our sides at all times. They didn't interact with the other dogs at all. So in their retirement, making an effort to socialize will also be important for the dogs. Not sure how I will transport them to their dates.
How To Know the Difference Between Leisure and Goofing Off
And then there is the whole issue of what is meaningful leisure and what is just goofing off and wasting time?
Is this leisure or goofing off?
What about this?
What? Oh, ...Mildred, Freddy and Tarquin want to weigh in.
"Retirement? We are here to say that living with this nut job, we will never get to retire.
We could be innocently sipping a glass of wine
or drinking out of the toilet
and Mistress Rosy gets an idea for a photo op.
Then we have to drop everything and obey. Geez.
If we ever have to wear a funny hat again or dress up as a film or book character, it will be too soon! "
Frederic, Mildred and Tarquin the Reviewers say....
DO DOGS EVER RETIRE? HELL, NO!"
Well, there you have it from the horse's...er...dog's mouths.
Do dogs ever retire?
Not really. Even for working dogs like police and service dogs, when their working years are over, they still have purpose, the most important one: loving and bringing joy to their guardians and their loved ones.
So too is it for humans. We may be retired from our jobs, but we are not retired from life. Our most fulfilling purpose in life is giving and receiving love and bringing joy to those around us.
If we can do that, all of the other pitfalls of retirement fall away.
How are you coping with retirement?
And your dogs?
Rosy the Reviewer's Week in Review
"I watch the bad ones so you don't have to."
Resident Evil: Retribution
This is a perfect case of putting a movie on my Netflix list after seeing the preview. The preview made it look exciting. Instead it was a cartoon. I rarely give up on a film, no matter how bad it is, but this...couldn't finish it. And you shouldn't either unless you like watching video games, instead of playing them.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Unwatchable.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Rosy the Reviewer says...Not going to win any awards, but a lot of fun. Jim Carrey is always a gas.
Carol Channing, Larger than Life
Documentary about this theatre legend. At 89, she is the same irrepressible spirit. Particularly fun is her marriage to her childhood sweetheart after a 40+ year unhappy marriage. They knew each other in middle school and found each other in their 80's!
Rosy the Reviewer says...she is the originator of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in the play version of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."
Here she is still singing it!
HBO film about this true crime house invasion that resulted in the grisly deaths of a family. Hard to watch but a serious examination of how something like this could occur and why it wasn't prevented.
Rosy the Reviewer says...it's a tough story to relive but an important one. There is evil in the world and we need to be aware of it.
Love and Honor
A nice showcase for Liam Hemsworth and a fair depiction of what it was like to be a college student in the late 60's and in love with a soldier fighting in Vietnam. I should know -- I lived it.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a notch above the usual Nicholas Sparks type fare.
Rosy the Reviewer says....Very interesting little indie thriller that is all the more scary as it all plays out in the light of day.
Three African American young men from Newark, N.J. make a pact to become doctors. Inspiring true tale of Sampson, George and Ramick, three friends growing up in a neighborhood where many of their friends were involved in drug dealing, gangs or were in prison. These three young men made a pact that they would help keep other in school, graduate from college and become doctors. And this inspiring documentary tells how they overcame the odds (their high school had a 50% drop-out rate) and did it. They are not doctors and tour the country as "The Three Doctors," giving motivational speeches.
Rosy the Reviewer says...look for it because it is worth seeing and will inspire you.
Highly recommend Seattle restaurant Lola. Colleagues from work gave me a gift certificate to any Tom Douglas restaurant as my "parting gift" and we chose Lola. Tom Douglas is one of our celebrity chefs and owns many restaurants. He won a James Beard Award in 2012 for Best Restauranteur. In 2005 he competed on Iron Chef America and beat Chef Mirimoto. Lola is named after his grandmother and features Mediterranean cuisine. Loved the pita bread with the various sauces, the succulent lamb, the squid and chicken kabobs and his signature "donuts" for dessert.
Rosy the Reviewer says... Even if you are retired, you should treat yourself to fine dining at least once per month and when I say fine dining, I don't mean Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse, sorry.
This isn't exactly fashion, but I have discovered the greatest shoes to wear for my Zumba class. I am enjoying the Zumba class, as it's a fun way to get some exercise. Anyway, these shoes were recommeneded by the instructor and are actually dance sneakers by Bloch, very flexible in the middle of the sole for all of those twists and turns we need to do as we samba, mambo and moonwalk all over the place. I got mine at Amazon.
Bouncing Back, Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being by Linda Graham
This is an interesting take on creating mindfulness, something I am working on developing.
Rosy the Reviewer says...mindfulness is a helpful skill to get the most out of life. Remember, this moment right now is IT. Try to live it.
VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave by Gavin Edwards.
Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn (remember them?), the original MTV VJs, give us an insider's view on what was happening backstage at MTV in its infancy.
Rosy the Reviewer says...nonfiction oral histories are a particular favorite and this one will delight the "children of the 80's."
Pirates of Penzance
You may not know this, but I read that the top three theatre towns in all of the U.S. are New York, Chicago and Seattle, in that order.
Seattle is rife with live theatre and this production was a perfect example of the caliber of actors and productions we are privy to. The 5th Avenue Theatre provides a combination of local talent and touring companies, and this show was a local production featuring local actors we have come to recognize. And they are wonderful. Here's a little factoid: Did you know the tune for "Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here," is from this Gilbert and Sullivan show? Different words, but a highlight of the show.
Rosy the Reviewer says ... support the local theatre in your town. Most towns of any size have local theatres or access to them and what a wonderful, fun way to get out and mingle with your fellow humans. Live theatre is a kind of church - everyone comes together for a spiritual experience, and it's a great way to keep up your personal interaction in retirement.
Final thoughts: Some definitions of the word "retire," are "withdraw," "retreat," "recede." Even though we withdraw, retreat and recede from our jobs, we never want to withdraw, retreat or recede from life or our loved ones. Read, watch movies, keep up on current events, go to the theatre, symphony and concerts, eat fine food, exercise and stay close to your families and your retirement will turn into your best years!
The dogs concur.
So as Shakespeare's Henry the V said, "Once more onto the breach, dear friends..." the dogs and I are off for a walk on this beautiful Pacific NW day.
See you next week.