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Tag: aging

Leashing the wife: Not advisable


A Maryland man police say was leading his wife around by a dog leash at the York Fair in Pennsylvania was charged with simple assault.

West Manheim Township police filed the charge against 66-year-old Walter W. Wolford, of Hagerstown, on Saturday, according to Penn Live.

Police said Wolford, of Hagerstown, had his wife, Catherine, attached to a red nylon dog leash and yanked the leash, causing her head to jerk back, resulting in red marks around her throat.

Wolford told officers said he only gently tugged on the leash, which he told investigators he used to keep his wife, who suffers from late-stage dementia, from getting lost.

Officer Bradley J. Cleck said in reports that he was called to the York Fair to investigate the incident and saw that Catherine Wolford had red marks on her throat.

He tried to speak to her, but she did not know where she was, or her name, he said.

Walter Wolford told the officer he was embarrassed about the situation. He explained that when the couple visited the fair last year, she had wandered away and was lost for 90 minutes. He said he put her on a leash to prevent that from happening again.

He originally attached the leash to her waist, but it somehow moved up around her neck, he told the officer. He said he had only “gently tugged on the leash so she would stop.”

After consulting with the York Area Agency on Aging and the district attorney’s office, police charged Wolford with simple assault.

He is set for a preliminary hearing Sept. 28.

The York Fair, billed as “America’s First Fair,” is has been held on on the first Friday after Labor Day for more than 250 years.

(Photo: York County Fair from Pennlive.com)

An L.L. Bean kind of guy in Walmart apparel … Or, how to remain rugged at age 65


Don’t be fooled by outward appearances. True, I may be clad from head to toe in clothing from the sales rack in Walmart. But I’m an L.L. Bean kind of guy.

Whether I am hiking in the wilds (which I don’t do nearly enough anymore) with my dog (sorry, he’s not a Labrador, more of a sales rack sort) or savoring a cognac (well, generic on-sale diet cola beverage) by the fireplace (that can’t actually have fires in it), I generally prefer to do so while attired in soft and snuggly, well-made clothing of denim, flannel, or corduroy.

Alas, my clothing budget no longer permits such purchases from the iconic Maine purveyor of classic, durable and cozy apparel.

But this time of year, as my birthday nears, I might actually open the latest catalog that dropped through my mail slot — if for no other reason than to fend off the inquiries from my brother and sister: What do you want for your birthday?

You will always find at least one dog in an L.L. Bean catalog — generally a pointer or a Lab, either splashing through a lake or nestled peacefully in an L.L. Bean dog bed ($109-$249).

The round or rectangular dog beds come in various sizes, with either a denim or fleece cover, monogrammable, and inside a mattress made of either “loose fill” or memory foam. You can’t get a round one with memory foam, though. I’m sure there is a reason for that, but, as I’m nearing 65, I forgot.

Yes, that’s right, I am reaching the age where even foam has a better memory than I do.

The shirts in the catalog most often grab my interest. I know from experience that as soon as I open a new one up, it will feel like an old one — even an old favorite one. Yes, it is almost like paying extra for a shirt that has already been worn. But, when I’m not actually paying for it myself, I don’t care.

In the latest catalog, there are “sunwashed” shirts, and “stonewashed” shirts and “lakewashed” shirts.

I have no clue how “sunwashing” is accomplished, but I found myself wondering if there is a particular L.L. Bean employee who does the lakewashing — who, accompanied by his Labrador retriever, hauls all the new shirts to a lake in the mountains to accomplish this deed. I mean there’s gotta be, right? Otherwise it would be false advertising.

I see him as an older gentleman who preferred this job to being a Walmart greeter, because it allowed him to be in the great outdoors, with his dog. He likely fills his old Jeep with boxes of new shirts and a few times a week heads to the lake with his dog and a washboard. He’d be wearing those famous rubber-bottomed duck boots, which he gets at an employee discount.

“Lakewashing,” I’m sure, is meant to convey an image of purity and freshness and the great outdoors — and it works as long as you don’t let algae and pond scum or boycotts enter the picture.

Fortunately, in L.L. Bean World, that never happens. There, lakes remain pure, mountain streams run fresh, and you remain rugged and vital — at least until you head back to Walmart.

(Photos: L.L. Bean)

104-year-old man, after many rejections, finds a dog he can love

lessnerleashes1

At age 102, Milt Lessner had a little trouble locating a shelter or rescue that was willing to let him adopt a dog.

The retired psychiatrist has had dogs through most of this life and being without one — especially since the passing of his wife and their dogs several years ago — wasn’t acceptable.

So he began contacting rescue organizations and shelters, most of which, after learning his age, opted to decline his offer of a forever home — given his forever likely wasn’t all that long.

Finally, he found success through Lionel’s Legacy, a rescue in San Diego that specializes in older dogs. They arranged for him to foster a dog name Layla for as long as he’s able.

lessner2Layla is a senior herself, a mellow and affable little mutt and former stray, and as you might expect they have bonded. They’ve been together almost two years.

Milt is 104 now.

“In no time at all, we were quite friendly with each other,” Milt told the BBC. “She’s very conciliatory and very agreeable. “We’re trying to stay in good health, both of us. So far, we’ve succeeded and we’re still alive.”

As a psychiatrist, Milt used to bring dogs to his sessions to help relax his patients. He knows the health benefits — physical and emotional — they can provide.

“I enjoy the familiarity with them, and the pleasantness, and the bonding – especially the bonding. I can’t think of anything better,” he says.

Laura Oliver, founder of Lionel’s Legacy, says the pairing has benefited all involved.

“You can tell they’re both smitten,” she said.

(Photos: By Dona Tracy, via BBC)

Scientists learn about aging and memory by monitoring brain activity of sleeping dogs

Researchers in Hungary have found another good reason to let sleeping dogs lie — and maybe for us humans to get more sleep, too.

Both dogs and humans, they say, learn while they sleep.

The scientists placed wires on the head of 15 aging dogs to measure electrical activity in the brain while they sleep. The brain activity, called sleep spindles, has been linked with learning in humans.

The Hungarian scientists are studying how dog’s ability to learn and remember changes as they get older. They hope the study will lead to a better understanding of cognitive ability and memory changes in aging dogs and humans, Voice of America reported.

Ivaylo Iotchey, a neuroscience researcher, says the study represents the first time the sleep spindles of dogs have been measured.

“From studies with humans and rodents, we know that they are extremely useful markers both of memory and cognition but also of aging and activity,” he said. “In the dog, sleep spindles have only been described, they were never quantified, they were never related to function. This is the first time we were able to show that sleep spindles predict learning in the dog.”

The scientists have also found that female dogs, who have twice as many spindles, appear to be better at learning new things.

Senior Researcher Enikó Kubinyi said aging dogs suffer from the same problems as humans who are aging.

“Among very old dogs, up to two thirds of them show signs of dementia, and this dementia is really very similar in a lot of aspects to that of humans, so we could use dogs as a natural model of human aging.”

Christie Brinkley unveils the secret to staying young — and it is …

DOGS!

The 63-year-old model says so in PEOPLE, so it must be true.

She tells the magazine/website that her two dogs, Maple Sugar and Chester, are her anti-aging antidotes.

Of course, Brinkley has also credited a few zillion other things with being the secret to her youthful appearance — pretty much any product, it seems, that pays her to do so.

brinkleyanddaughtersBetween her and Cindy Crawford, another 50-plus former model who claims to possesses the secret to staying young, they are shilling not just anti-aging products, but everything from wine to furniture to dog food.

While explaining the secret of staying young to PEOPLE, for instance, Brinkley manages to work in plugs for her book, Timeless Beauty, Purina dog food, and her appearance at 63, with her daughters, in Sports Illustrated’s new swimsuit issue.

Strangely, there is no mention in the PEOPLE article of her line of skin care products that — or so she tells us on television — are her secret to staying young.

The Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare Bio-Clock Activation System claims to help resist, reduce and reverse the top five signs of aging, according to commercials for the products.

(Try not to confuse this with Meaningful Beauty, apparently made from Italian miracle melons that never rot — the line of anti-aging products touted by Cindy Crawford, who is also managing to remain freakishly young looking despite her advancing years.)

A further parenthetical statement: (Yes, while recuperating from recent surgery I’ve been watching far too much television.)

cb_bio-clock_kit_1aChristie, according to the product’s website, spent four years working with scientists to develop the product. (And yes, she looks good in a lab coat, too.)

“Now,” the website says, “she is sharing her secret with you. It is truly an anti-aging activation or ‘bio-clock’ activation system, containing a proprietary Bio-Copper Complex to help firm, smooth and bring back youthful radiance to skin.”

I’ll admit that Brinkley looks pretty amazing — but given she is saying the secret of staying young is her dogs/her skin creams/her book/even Purina dog food, I’m beginning to suspect the secret to staying young may be selling out.

Perhaps I am being hasty and cynical — or maybe just old and crotchety — but it seems that, for a fee, she’ll endorse any product as being the equivalent of the fountain of youth.

Consider the dog food connection in the PEOPLE article, which took some stretching to accomplish:

brinkley2After praising her dogs, and saying that nutrition is the secret to staying young, Brinkley singles out Purina Pro Plan (but then after all, she is a spokesperson for the company).

It, she says, is keeping her 14-year-old Labradoodle Maple Sugar young.

“That’s why I feed my senior dog Maple Purina Pro Plan,” she tells PEOPLE. “It has enhanced botanicals and ingredients that aid in digestion, things she needs.”

Maple Sugar and Chester, in turn, help keep her young, she says — and I suspect there is more truth in that statement than any of the others.

Your Cindy Crawfords and your Christie Brinkleys are from an era when advertisers and the media set impossibly high standards for women to live up to. That era never ended.

What has changed is those same forces are now setting impossible standards for the over 50 crowd to live up to — especially women. Men, as evidenced by Steve Carell getting good reviews for going grey, and Sam Elliot’s recent movie role as grandfatherly stud muffin, can still somehow get away with visually aging.

But the pressure is there for them, too, even though I — not being one to put too much effort into appearance — never felt it to any great extent. At nearly 64, I’ve given up on finding the fountain of youth. I’d settle for a steady urine stream.

So while I admire the effort your Brinkleys and Crawfords are making — and their willingness to share their anti-aging secrets with the general public — I can’t help but see a little sadness in it all.

They both were and are beautiful women, but you know what? A wrinkle or two wouldn’t really hurt their looks — and might even provide their Stepford-ish faces with some character.

It’s possible to age beautifully without waging an all-out war against that natural process — pouncing on every grey hair, slathering every wrinkle with miracle spackle, tightening, lifting and toning up every sag.

There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s appearance, or working hard at being healthy, but this insistence that all outwardly signs of aging must be fought off at all costs (Brinkley’s Bioclock Anti-Aging system will run you $125) is a fraudulent, manipulative and deceptive bill of goods.

Don’t buy it. Instead, adopt a dog.

(Top photo, PEOPLE; bottom photo, Associated Press)

When you’re feeling way older than your dog

I’m still a few days away from reclaiming my dog Jinjja, being cared for by a friend while I recover from some recent surgery, but I did stop by to take him for a test walk last week.

(That’s not us in the video above. I’m not quite that slow and bent over, and Jinjja’s not quite as willing as that dachshund to move along at a snail’s pace.

The test walk convinced me I needed a few more days — given Jinjja tugs a bit on the leash — before getting back to the two walks a day routine.

Then I came across the video above, which made me think if that old guy can still walk his dog, a little wrenching of my guts shouldn’t be holding me back. I’m not sure which impressed me more — the old man’s perseverance or the dog’s patience.

Still, given Jinjja’s hosts are so gracious and he seems to be having such a good time there — enjoying a large, escape-proof yard, the companionship of two other dogs and attention from three times as many humans — I decided to stretch his visit out to a few more days and pick him up after the holidays.

Yes, dogs help keep us young, but sometimes they can remind us how old we’re getting, or feeling — especially when a walk is the last thing you feel like doing and your dog is insisting on it. The video also got me thinking about dogs and older people, and how a good match is pretty vital to their successful coexistence.

jin2When I adopted Jinjja six months ago, after he was freed from a South Korean farm where he was being raised to become meat, I was in decent health and thought I had enough energy to handle whatever challenges he might pose.

His three escapes and the subsequent recovery efforts — one on the eve of my surgery — made me question that … and more.

Should I, at almost 64, have chosen a smaller, lazier, older dog to adopt — one content to do little more than lay around the house, one for whom my tiny courtyard would be ample space?

In retrospect, yes. But I didn’t know at the time that I was going to have to deal with a kidney cancer scare and a surgery that takes six weeks to recover from.

I’m far from alone in having this kind of issue. Even though dogs age much more quickly than we do, it’s not uncommon for older folks to find the dog they’ve been caring for has become more than they can handle, or for them to adopt one who might not be a perfect fit for their circumstances.

I’m a firm believer that a dog can bring joy, meaning, comfort, companionship and numerous health benefits to the life of an older person — and that ideally every older person who wants one should have one.

But, as with any adoption, considerations of one’s circumstances, and the possibility of unforeseen new ones, need to be kept in mind.

You can find a pretty good summary of all the pros and cons when it comes to pets and seniors in this guide put together by the National Council on Aging Care.

It was a dog who led me to the home I bought a year ago — a different dog (Ace) who died before I moved. He needed a home without steps. He was not a leash-tugger, or even a leash-requirer, and he was content to always be at my side.

The condo seemed a perfect old man/old dog house. It didn’t have anything that could rightly be called a yard, but it had no steps (which I’ll admit appealed to me as well) and it had a small fenced courtyard.

Ace — while he was an extra large dog — never seemed too thrilled with yards, anyway. He would rather go on walks and meet people, or lay on the porch and wait for people to come meet him, or simply station himself at some other observation point:

At dog parks, Ace, a highly social animal, would generally remain where the people were, rather than romp around the acreage.

Jinjja is a different story — and one that’s still evolving. He’s still working on his socialization skills, and more. We attended our first obedience class, where he showed great promise, but attending those classes was cut short by my illness.

Jinjja is still easily frightened, and wary of the male of the human species. He was at my friend’s house for a month before he let her husband pet him.

Their place was an ideal spot for him. He can just go out the back door and have an entire yard to romp in. There’s no need for leashed walks, and thereby fewer opportunities for him to take off — and when he does that, getting him back is no easy task.

DSC05631I’ve concluded that’s a result of both nature and nurture — though the environment he came from could hardly be called nurturing.

It is fairly characteristic of his breed (Jindo) to wander. And contact with humans was best avoided at the dog farm in South Korea where — though he might have been someone’s pet at some point — he was mostly raised.

So for this particular old person (for whom moving into a house with a large escape proof fenced yard is out of the question), it’s a matter of more training, more trust-building, more work, more walks, more trips to the dog park, and more of the kind of perseverance that old man in the video reflects.

And all that will resume by this weekend.

Why? Because of all the rewards we’ve only briefly touched on in this article. You — whether you are young, or old, or in between — already know what they are. I’ve been reminded of them when Jinjja, who once kept his distance from me, joyfully greets me during my visits to his temporary home.

We’ve got more bonding to do, more tricks to learn, more walks to take. He’ll have to slow down a bit. I’ll have to stay upright and pick up the pace. But, as a team, I’m pretty sure we can do it.

(Click on this link for more stories about Jinjja)

Look what this mailman delivered

Mailman Jeff Kramer met black Lab Tashi on his route in Boulder a few years ago.

“As fast as he could — which was not very fast — he ran up to me tail wagging, first day I met him,” Kramer said. “He’s just a really friendly dog. And I am a dog person, and they can tell.”

Kramer greeted and petted him nearly every day. But over the years, Tashi’s mobility declined — until the point that, after turning 13, the dog became unable to handle the steps of the front porch.

Kramer was in a position to help.

He’d built a ramp for his own elderly dog, Odie. But Odie passed away not long after that, about five years ago. The ramp sat in pieces in Kramer’s backyard.

So he offered it to Karen Dimetrosky and her family. Then he delivered it, in pieces.

rampAnd when two months went by and the family hadn’t assembled the ramp, Kramer came by on a day off and put it together for them.

“He’s just amazing,” she added. “We’ve had the ramp for a few months and he’s saved us …

“I can’t imagine not having the ramp now. It’s the only way he gets in and out.”

“We were literally carrying him up and down the stairs,” Dimetrosky told the Boulder Daily Camera. “And he weighs about 70 pounds.”

“I just noticed they needed it,” Kramer said. “I didn’t need it anymore and I hate throwing things away.”

Kramer said most of the dogs on his route are friendly.

“I’ve got about 30 or 40 that enthusiastically greet me,” Kramer said. “Then I’ve got three or four that enthusiastically want to eat me.”

Kramer recently attended Tashi’s 14th birthday party, and Dimetrosky said that Tashi, despite his achy bones, gets up off his bed whenever Kramer comes by.

Kramer said Tashi is one of his favorite dogs on the route.

“He’s just so happy with life.”

(Photo and video by Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)