This column first appeared in Feburary of 2003.


Our dog Shadow will be 11-years-old this spring.

We’re not sure exactly when this spring Shadow turn 11 because her original owners weren’t really big on paperwork.

This type of question probably has no place in a column like this, but I’m wondering, is it too strong to suggest that people who dump puppies by the side of the road should be beaten so severely around the head area that Bill O’Reilly actually makes sense?

Just wondering.

The fact that Shadow is 11-years-old actually means-according to the oft quoted formula-she is 77 in dog years. But I’m proud to say that she has the reading level of a 79-year-old.

The formula I’m talking about of course is the one that says one human year is equal to 7 dog years. Now, how someone arrived at the formula I don’t know and I don’t care.

The only reason it’s germane (It’s a word. I looked it up) is that several years ago my friend Jim Otey and I were sitting around our former workplace discussing this dog formula when it dawned on us that by carrying it further, we could explain a lot about dog behavior.

It also occurred to us that the fact that we were having that conversation indicated that we had way too much spare time at our former workplace.

Granted our mathematical progression may not be-technically speaking- correct, but we figured that if one human year is equal to seven dog years, that means one human minute would be equal to seven dog minutes.

Say I’ve just sat down in front of the TV to watch a basketball game and Shadow walks to the door wanting to be let outside.

Me: Not now Shadow. I’ll let you out at halftime.

Shadow: (To herself) #$%^

The reason Shadow is mad is because the first half of a basketball game takes at least an hour. That means Shadow must cross her legs (figuratively) for a minimum of seven hours. You try that. (Again, figuratively).

The Pound-Otey formula also explains the “YOU CAME BACK” phenomenon.

Virtually every weekday morning since my wife and I have owned Shadow, we have gotten up and gone to work leaving Shadow at home.

At the end of each day, when we get back home, Shadow scrambles to the door, jumps up and down and acts astonished to see us.

In her tiny little border collie mind, she’s thinking “YOU CAME BACK! YOU CAME BACK! THANK GOD YOU CAME BACK. I DON’T HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO USE A CAN OPENER AFTER ALL!”

But think about that from Shadow’s perspective.

On most work days we normally are gone from our house for about nine hours. According to the Pound-Otey formula that’s 63 hours to Shadow.

The last time I was away from my wife for 63 hours was for my bachelor party.

That explains why, when we’re home, Shadow is constantly following us around. She’s afraid that-on a moment’s notice-we might take off for a couple of days.

Shadow’s habit of following us around drives my wife crazy because every time she turns around, she bumps into Shadow. My wife bumps into Shadow so often that Shadow thinks her first name is “Move.”

A dog’s begging habits can also be attributed to our formula.

I open a bag of chips and Shadow comes and begs for a chip.

Me: No Shadow.

Shadow: (To herself) @#$%

Three minutes later.

Me: Shadow, I said no.

Shadow: (Again, to herself) Yeah, but that was like 20 minutes ago.

This formula can also be used by humans to their advantage.

Using the formula, I have often said to my wife, “What are you talking about? I haven’t had a beer in 210 minutes.”