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Quality Time With Your Pets

by Barry KuKes

According to as of May 2023, the world’s oldest dog Boby just turned 31 years old. The Portuguese Pooch became a viral sensation when he won a Guinness World Record. He lives on the farm where he was born in 1992 with his owner Leonel Costa and other animals.

The Guinness Book Of World grants the honor of the oldest cat to a Maine Coon named Creme Puff. She was born in 1967 and died in 2005, surviving to the ripe old age of 38.

My first dog was Lucky, a Miniature Schnauzer. He came into my life as a puppy when I was ten. He crossed over the rainbow bridge when I was thirty-two. He was twenty-two when he passed.
These life expectancies are not the norm. A dog or cat living into their thirties is equal to a human living to about 245 years old.

In reality, a dog’s life expectancy is, on average, 10-14 years. The life expectancy of a cat is 18-22 years. Smaller breed dogs and cats tend to live longer than their larger cohorts. A Great Dane only has a life ex-pectancy of 8 years.
As pet owners and animal lovers, we need to spend as much time with our pets before it’s too late and they leave us. They share only a tiny amount of our lives and deserve to experience as much companionship and love from their owners as possible.

I share my life with three dogs. I spend a large part of my day with my dogs. Keep in mind that dogs and cats sleep a great deal. I always say, “If my dogs don’t get 20 hours of sleep a day, they are worthless.” Thus, even though I spend much time with my dogs, they are usually asleep at my feet or nearby. Yet, they are happy to be near me. I believe they feel safe when I am with them and rest easier than when I am away.

My oldest dog, Spencer, a Golden Re-triever mix I rescued from the shelter, sticks to my side like glue. He can be sleeping at my feet as he is right now while I write this column, but as soon as I stand up and walk out of the room to grab another cup of coffee, he is on his feet and by my side the entire time. Yes, I admit he might be following me to see if I will give him a treat, but I’d like to think he loves me more than food. I would also like to believe that Santa does exist, as well as his flying reindeer, but this, too, is very unlikely.

I love spending time with Spencer. He is an extraordinary dog but has a few strange behaviors. He loves to lick the carpet for hours. I will nudge him so he stops licking, but he returns to this behavior in less than a minute. I can’t request that he quit because he is deaf and probably legally blind. He sees shadows but often mistakes my fingers for treats. Luckily, he only has a few teeth; biting for the treat seldom hurts. The other day he grabbed my forearm with his mouth. He was very gentle, and his tail was wagging like crazy. I think it was a sign of affection. I patted his head, and he let go.

Spencer gets along splendidly with my two other dogs, Bentley and Mini-Cooper. Spencer is about 14 years old and does very well keeping up with Cooper, a 2-year-old smaller pup. Once in a while, one of them will yelp due to playing too rough, but there is never any aggression or intent to hurt each other. I think Cooper keeps Spencer young. He is more active, eats better, poops better, and is more social since Cooper joined our household.

Try getting on their level if you want more time with your pets. I often sit on the floor, and instantly, all three will be on top of me, kissing and rubbing. They prefer to be face-to-face versus needing to look up. Pets appreciate you trying to be one of them, if only for a few minutes.

If you need a new best friend please, adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the former community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at View more of his work at