Good Old Dog

    My dog Buddy once had friends in high places. He was a stray who was given to our family by an aide to then-Mayor Ed Rendell in 1994, when I was a city hall beat reporter.

    And because he hung around the mayor’s office a day before I brought him home, Buddy and Rendell became fast friends.

    I was encouraged to bring him to work occasionally and leave him in the mayor’s suite. Sometimes at the end of the day I’d come to pick him up and find the mayor of Philadelphia on his hands and knees, letting Buddy lick his face. Or I’d hear from staff that “Ed bought him a chicken Parmesan sandwich for lunch,” or that Buddy had ridden in the mayor’s car to his son’s lacrosse game.

    When Rendell held a farewell reception upon leaving office, pictures of him and Buddy appeared in both daily papers.

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    Rendell became governor and went to Harrisburg, and Buddy lost his access to the corridors of power. He stayed at home with our family in Germantown, talking walks along the Wissahickon and swimming the creek in good weather.

    The sad end to the story came three years ago, when Buddy, by then an old dog with grey whiskers, became demented.

    We’d hear him pace the floor for hours, walking aimlessly from room to room. When it got quiet, we knew we’d soon hear him howl in frustration because he’d gotten into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to turn himself around.

    He endured the dementia for nearly a year before he died.

    On today’s Fresh Air, I ask veterinarian Nicholas Dodman about doggie dementia and other conditions that aging dogs face. He’s collaborated with other vets from Tufts University on a book called Good Old Dog – Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable.

    You can hear the show at 3 and 7 on WHYY. If you’re listening elsewhere, you can find a station here. You can learn more about the book and listen to podcasts of the show here.

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