Roo, The Oldest Dog Who Ever Lived

Sometimes I take Roo for a walk in a town. Not often, but she likes it. This evening, she was exhausted, which is a great mark of a success for a dog, and so, one they like to show off. She was trudging along as if she was on her way to be photographed for the Guinness Book entry on the World’s Oldest Dog, her head hanging low as if she had a crick in her neck and dragging her old bones as if she was riddled with arthritis and I was taking the easy way out by keeping her doped up on morphine.

A woman stopped and said, “Oh, that poor dog. How old is he?” People tend to assume that a male owner has a male dog. Roo must think that one of her names is Buddy, because most of the time people say, “Hey, Buddy,” to her. This mystifies me, because Roo is extremely feminine.

“She’s ninety,” I said.

“Well, bless her. In human years, then, that would be — “

“No, that is in human years. She practically raised my great-grandfather from a baby. She was a flapper before the Great Depression hit. She had to save him from a pack of hungry tramps once when they were riding the rails and doing a little hoboing on the way out of the dust bowl. Of course, the country finally got rid got rid of that idiot Hoover and things quieted down, but next thing you know, World War Two came around. Grandma was forced by conscience to loan her to the War Department. Do you now that no other dog saw action in Europe and the Pacific? Google it. Especially as a paratroop. Hard going for a dog. She won't even consider jumping any more. Growls at you when you come at her with a parachute. After that, they offered her a show on TV, the same way they put Audie Murphy in the movies, but she felt sorry for some collie and let him have it. There would still be royalties coming in, but her heart wasn’t in show business. She enjoyed the Sixties, though. Never wore a leash once until Nixon got Hoover to clamp down on the long hairs. We just pass her down from generation to generation.”

“Very funny,” the woman said. She had started to back away. Excessive improvisation in small talk is usually taken as a sign of a dangerous mental imbalance. “How old is she really?”

Roo does this all the time. She enjoys being dramatic about being exhausted as a way of bragging to other dogs. There it is, seven in the evening, and every other dog is prancing around town, ready for the night to begin after a day’s forced rest. Roo likes letting them know that she lives the kind of privileged life that gets her so beat up during the day that by nightfall she’s half-dead.

She is getting older — she’ll be six in November — but in the accompanying video you see how she is during the day. Roo is in terrific shape. This is the last of the tadmouse movies. The tadmouses are gone and the footage isn’t from today. It’s an homage to the seasonal passing of the tadmouses, but I thought you might like to see the last of them, for the tadmouses have come and gone. Roo still looks for them every day, but for now she’s back to terrorizing terrestrial mouses.