How did they determine that dogs age seven years for each year a human lives? And do cats age at all? -- T.N., of Belleville
"They" simply used the law of averages -- but any vet worth his Gravy Train will tell you that they were barking up the wrong tree.
Years ago, someone apparently figured that a good dog's life was maybe 10-12 years while humans could count their blessings if they made it to, say, 70-85. Divide one by the other, and people soon began saying that dogs saw an average of seven years fly by for every people year. Hence, the saying "once in a dog's age," meaning a long time.
But any Fido fancier will tell you that this piece of conventional dogma is more like doggerel in the real world.
For starters, dogs mature far faster than humans. While human children should have care and guidance well into their teens, a dog can reach adulthood in a year to 18 months.
But you also have to take size into account, according to a dog's age calculator at www.webmd.com. A Great Dane may mature more slowly at first, but they might be considered elderly by the time they hit 7 or 8 -- or even earlier. On the other hand a Chihuahua may mature more quickly but age more slowly in middle age. Medium dogs -- say, 20-50 pounds -- usually wind up somewhere in between.
So, WebMD came up with a chart that equates the first year in a dog's life to 15 human years and the second year to nine. Then, time slows considerably with each of the next three years adding only four candles to a canine's cake. So by the time they're 5, WebMD figures they're 36 human-years old.
After that, things get interesting as larger dogs continue to pile on the human years more quickly than the smaller ones. By the time they're 10, Lassie would have been 66 while Toto was 56. At 16 -- the final year on the WebMD chart -- your Rottweilers and Saint Bernards would be living on borrowed time at 120 while your Yorkies and Shih Tzus would be considered 80.
As is their general nature, cats are much easier to deal with when it comes to age, according to Dr. Arnold Plotnick, a veterinarian who writes at www.catchannel.com.
Like dogs, cats use up many of their human years early on. According to Plotnick, a kitten can be considered 15 human years by the time it turns 6 months and 24 when it celebrates its first birthday. After that, Plotnick figures it's simply four human years per cat year so 20-year-old cats are like humans celebrating their 100th.
As a result, Garfield will hit the ripe old human age of 164 when Jon, Liz, Odie and Pooky celebrate their 36th anniversary on June 19. Guess I'll have to start eating more lasagna.
Enclosed you'll find two obituaries listing memorial services officiated by Tim Ezell. Is this the same Tim Ezell on Channel 2? -- Louise Koester, of Collinsville
Yes, believe it or not, many people on Sunday trust their souls to the same wacky goofball who keeps them in stitches every weekday morning on Fox2.
Last July 29, Ezell posted a video on YouTube, proclaiming the good news that he had become lead pastor of The Journey in South County, the latest addition to the non-denominational family of churches around the St. Louis area.
There's one at 1790 West U.S. 50 in O'Fallon. Ezell's South County church started meeting at Bernard Middle School at 1054 Forder Road on Sept. 8. After moving from Waterloo to St. Louis, Ezell said he found a home at The Journey, where he started as a greeter before becoming a service pastor.
"I think God's been calling me to the ministry for quite some time, and I kind of did the Johah thing and ran the other direction," said the Fort Worth, Texas, native.
"Several people in my life told me, 'Have you ever thought about this?' and I said, 'Nah, that's not me,'" said the father of three who will celebrate his 16th wedding anniversary in June. "Being the son of a pastor, I never thought that that was the direction I would go.
"But other people did, and slowly God began to work in my heart, and he began to tell me, 'This is exactly what I want you to do.' So it's a perfect fit for Kim and I to really plug in and start doing ministry right here at home in South County."
If you'd like to see the entire video, go to YouTube and search for "Tim Ezell church." If you'd like to hear him preach, services are at 10 a.m. Sundays, according to thejourney.org.
How did the Saint Bernard get its name?
Answer to Wednesday's trivia: According to www.baseball-almanac.com, there have been at least three family trees on which a grandfather, father and two sons played Major League Baseball. How many did you remember? Ray Boone (1948-1960), Bob Boone (1972-1990), Aaron Boone (1997-2009) and Bret Boone (1992-2005). Gus Bell (1950-1954), Buddy Bell (1972-1989), David Bell (1995-2006) and Mike Bell (19 games in 2000, Cincinnati). Sammy Hairston (4 games in 1951, White Sox), Jerry Hairston (1973-1989), Jerry Hairston Jr. (1998-2010) and Scott Hairston (2004-2010). The Coleman family -- Joe, Joe and Casey -- also had three generations but just one son made it to the bigs.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.