Donald Trump, Bill Gates and what the dog saw

I SHARE my home with a little old man and it’s doing my head in.

He’s set in his ways.

For years he was a free-wheeling kind of guy, up for spontaneous romps in the bush after dark and unfazed by wild breaks from routine. These days he’s a grump at the least sign of anything out of the ordinary.

He drinks a lot. He’s obsessed with food. He farts. He hogs the heater. He snores when he sleeps and he sleeps for big chunks of the day. He doesn’t like going out on cool evenings without his jumper, and even with his jumper he’s a reluctant and obstinate walker. And he farts. Did I mention that he farts? It’s a BIG problem.  

He drinks a lot. He’s obsessed with food. He farts. He hogs the heater. He snores when he sleeps and he sleeps for big chunks of the day. He doesn’t like going out on cool evenings without his jumper, and even with his jumper he’s a reluctant and obstinate walker. And he farts. Did I mention that he farts? It’s a BIG problem.

In short Lloyd, my dog, is acting every second of his 14 years of age, which in dog/human years makes him about 100, and it seems to have come out of the blue.

For a long time he was a mental Jack Russell/terrier/bits of everything cross who took off like a bullet if something caught his attention and circumstance allowed.

When he was young the mere suggestion of a female dog put a strange glint in his eye. If you missed it he was gone, regardless of roads, cars, fences, people and danger.

A friend who dismissed my warnings about how fast Lloyd could travel on a testosterone high took him for a walk on the beach years ago and returned in a lather, never to take him for a walk again.

They had passed a female dog at the top end of the beach. Lloyd was keen but on a lead. Halfway down the beach – and I’m talking at least one kilometre down – my friend decided it was a safe enough distance to let the randy dog off his lead. Big mistake.

“He followed the dog back to her house. I only found him because the owner was out the front trying to stop him from breaking down her front door,” said my friend.

“That’s my boy,” I replied.

These days Lloyd gives a polite nod to any dog he passes, and occasionally ventures a sniff. The only thing he runs for as an almost-100-year-old is barbecued chicken. And you don’t stand between Lloyd and barbecued chicken.

His vision isn’t what it was. He used to bound up the 13 stairs in my house until the day when he tried to bound and crashed into the step ahead of him. I put it down to over-enthusiasm until it happened a number of times. Then we noticed the blue cast in his brown eyes and the vet confirmed his sight was impaired, particularly in the dark.

He used to dash around in the dark but now he’s tentative. Either that or he’s worked out that by standing still and looking tentative he’s more likely to be carried from point A to point B over short distances.

Age has sharpened his cunning, we’ve decided.

It’s reduced his defensive instincts. Years ago he was a typical Jack Russell – quick to defend his territory and with little dog syndrome to the point of recklessness. Anyone knocking on my front door or, heaven forbid, who tried to come inside copped a long and energetic blast of Lloyd in full bark mode.

These days a gang of armed robbers could invade my home and make off with everything I own and I doubt whether Lloyd would even lift his head from a pillow in whichever sunny spot or warm nook he was reclining at the time. The cat would put up a better fight.

Walking Lloyd used to be enjoyable. Just the word “walk” would induce something close to hysteria, every time, any time of day or night and in all weathers. He would bounce along sniffing and piddling to his heart’s content for hours.

Walks now are more hit and miss, and end abruptly at times when the dog simply stops, sits, and makes it plain he’s had enough. And woe betide trying to mix things up a little by turning left when we usually turn right on a path. There’s few things as obstinate as a little old man dog unhappy about a strange fork in the road.

There were two big dogs making news this week. Neither could be classed as old, but both lead the pack.

Donald Trump turns 71 in June. Bill Gates is a sprightly 62.

Trump made news for allegedly revealing highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador from a US partner’s intelligence course on the Islamic State. As is the way with the Trump administration the initial story was then complicated and contradicted during subsequent briefings by White House officials, and confused even further after a series of late-night tweets by Trump.

It could all be put down to a lot of bark and bluster by a maverick president who likes to do things his way but for the fact that US allies, including Australia, will almost certainly now have to reconsider how much intelligence-sharing they should do, given Trump’s liking for being the top dog in all situations.

If nothing else over the past few months of his tumultuous presidency, Trump has shown he likes being recognised as the person with the “absolute right” to have insider knowledge. He likes winning the pissing contest. But as president his ego and the need to boast of that insider knowledge can have extraordinary consequences.

Bill Gates also took to Twitter this week with a message for young college graduates. The man who’s worth more than $85 billion, and whose recent work has focused on some of the world’s poorest areas, doesn’t lay claim to an “absolute right” to anything.

Gates wrote, instead, about learning a few things from life, including a little wisdom. He advised graduates to look outward, beyond the self, to find happiness. In these “Me, myself and I” times that is almost revolutionary.

At my feet, and in his wise old way, Lloyd is snoring. Again. 

The story It’s truly a dog’s life first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop