HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SANCHA!
Today Sancha would have turned 15. Or rather, today I would have celebrated Sancha turning 15. It is unlikely that Sancha was 15, and very very unlikely that she turned 15 today, but when you adopt an adult dog, you have to pick a story and stick with it. Which, in fact, I didn't do either, as Sancha's birdthday was over the years a movable feast. Like Easter, if Easter had at some point been moved from April to October.
I adopted Sancha on January 23 and the shelter estimated her to be 3 years old. For a few years we celebrated her birthday on successive January 23s, but then we (I) decided that for a girl whose favorite activity was a long walk and who did not enjoy the cold, January 23 might have been a lovely birthday in Perth or Buenos Aires, but in New York it was a crappy day for a birthday. Plus what were the chances that I had adopted her precisely on her birthday? So somewhere around 2007 I moved her birthday 6 months ahead, which happened to land on my grandfather's birthday and thus made it easier for me to remember that too. Except that what with summer research trips, or rainstorms, for most of her life June 23 ended up being an inconvenient day for a birthday, and so we would move it back and forth a few days or weeks as needed. When I made the switch I had the option of advancing her a full year in 6 months or letting her remain the same age for 18 months; I chose the former because a vet who had looked at her teeth after the adoption said he thought she might be older than three. But then in 2011 when Sancha was getting all of her various check-ups and exams prior to accompanying me to Spain, a different vet said Sancha was the youngest-looking 11-year old dog she had ever seen, so I considered revising her backwards a year, but then I liked the idea that this was another thing we had in common--at 36 I still get frequently mistaken for an undergraduate--so I left it alone. The last chapter in the mystery of Sancha's birthday occurred posthumously, as the pet cremation people, when they were confirming her info with me to make her little death certificate, had somehow acquired an entirely different date and year for her entry into the world. I have no idea where it came from, unless Sancha had in her youth acquired a fake ID to get into doggie clubs or something. (Now that I think of it, her being conveniently "3"--i.e, 21 in dog years--when I adopted her seems a bit suspicious).
Birthdays, hers and mine, were a relatively chill affair (a walk and a tasty treat), and age, hers and mine, have always been a subject of much confusion. (One year in college theater I was cast as 8 year old boy and an 80 year old demented granny. The week of my 36th birthday I was pulled over for looking too young be driving and received an AARP card.) In any event, I remembered to call my grandfather to wish him happy birthday, and hopefully somewhere wherever you are, Sancha, you are enjoying a walk and a meat product and aging gracefully.