When I decided to quit my job and make my first cross-country trip, I could picture it perfectly: a mix of taking in beautiful mountain and water scenery, visiting monuments and museums, consuming unhealthy and fresh food alike, hiking through our national parks and walking through new cities. Transportation would be in my four-door sedan and accommodations in rented homes and motels. And right there, riding shotgun beside me, would be Reuban, my chocolate lab.
The shriek of a 3-year-old can crack glass, shift a house on its foundation and register on earthquake scales 100 miles away. If you doubt that, come on over while Gracie, my granddaughter, pierces the air with a sound that is somewhere between a siren and a scream that will leave you vibrating for days.
I'm fortunate to have one of most adorable dogs in the world - Cara, our 7-year-old wire fox terrier - watching over our house (nearly always from inside) pretty much 24/7. She is diabolically effective in scaring Darrell, our cheerful and ever-reliable postal carrier, away from the house within moments after he's left mail at our front door.
In 1964, then New York Times reporter and later book author Gay Talese wrote a short profile of a man who had embarked on what seemed like a unique, exotic profession. Jim Buck walked other people's dogs - 30 or 4o of them a day - while their owners were at work.
As you've probably noticed, congressional events increasingly seem to feature movie stars such as Harrison Ford and other celebrities as a way of gaining public attention for an issue. But at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging's Healthy Aging Forum, scheduled for May 23 on Capitol Hill, there will be an even more unusual guest: GeriJoy, the talking virtual dog developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. GeriJoy is specifically designed to give older people with dementia or memory problems continual stimulation from an interactive companion.
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