VERO BEACH — My manners may not be perfect (yet), but I try hard to be respectful. So when 13-year-old Maggie called me out on my lack of respect, that really hurt.
When I finally met Maggie, a fetching chocolate lab who lives in South Beach with humans Joan and Jim Stanton, I said: “Miss Maggie, what did I do to displease you?”
Maggie tried to hide a giggle.
“Bonzo, I am a canine of a certain age but you can drop the ‘Miss.’ Just because I am mature lady doesn’t make me an old, fuddyduddy dog. I read your column and I enjoy it. However, I feel there is some ageism going on.”
“Can you give me an example, Maggie?” I asked.
“Sure, Bonzo,” Maggie said. “In your cool October 24th, 2013, column, you featured my best dog buddies and neighbors Boogie Woogie and Star. They are just pupsters. At the time, I thought to myself: ‘What am I? Chopped liver?’”
“I certainly meant no disrespect, Maggie,” I said. “I am honored to have the privilege of interviewing you. Please tell me all about yourself.”
“I would love to, Bonzo,” Maggie said. “As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I am now retired. I have decided to volunteer my time as the ‘South Beach Greeter Dog’ because everybody knows me.”
“Fascinating,” I said. “What does that consist of?”
“Well, all I have to do is stand around while the neighborhood younger humans rush over on their bikes and skateboards to give me hugs and say hello. Older humans can’t resist petting me and scratching my back. It’s wonderful.
“I receive so much attention. My neighborhood dog buddies like to do a meet-and-greet with me because I’m kind, gentle, sweet and friendly.
“I also am known for showing my affection and appreciation for my job by giving everyone a wet smooch.”
“What were you known for when you were, uh, less mature?” I asked carefully.
“Oh Bonzo,” Maggie laughed. “Becoming older isn’t a disease. Everyone gets there if they are lucky.
“When I was younger, I spent my time romping in the ocean and intimidating every critter in the back yard. One time many years ago, I went to visit my canine sister in Orlando. We were in a mischievous mood so we dug under the fence and checked out the neighborhood.
“That was fun, but it didn’t make mom happy.”
“Wow,” I said. “I’d be too scared to do that.”
“What you’ll find, Bonzo,” Maggie said, “is when you get to be my age, your main purpose in life is to provide love, devotion, companionship and joy to your humans.”
“I can do that, Maggie,” I said. “Thanks for sharing your wisdom with me.”
“It was my pleasure, Bonzo,” Maggie said. “Life is good in South Beach.”
And you make it better, Maggie.
Till next time,