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John Eggers: Get the best dog toy ever

You are probably wondering, “How did your golden retriever, Simon, enjoy Christmas?”

Well, thanks for asking. I guess it’s about time for a Simon update.

Like any child, Simon enjoyed ripping (chewing) open his packages as much as he enjoyed what was inside. I think next year we will just wrap up an assortment of empty boxes.

Simon thought he was in doggie heaven. Imagine a whole floor strewn with paper and cardboard boxes and ribbons – a golden retriever’s dream come true. You know about children who just don’t know what to play with next because they have too much stuff, that was our Simon.

It was like a whole big lawn full of sticks, empty pop bottles, rags, gloves, underwear, and dead fish. “Yes, this must be heaven.”

I did wrap up an old glove (He destroyed its mate earlier in the year.) and he had that demolished before the evening was over. But, hey, isn’t that what gifts are for? They are to be used and enjoyed – maybe just not eaten.

Yes, he was given some dog treats wrapped in pretty paper with a bow. Let’s see, again he set a record time of chewing his way through the paper. We had to take the package away from him. No sugar high for our dog. That could be deadly – not for him, for us.

Autumn had not yet arrived when I last told you about Simon. Well, Simon had a great autumn. We have tons of leaves so you can imagine what he enjoyed. I would rake the leaves on to a big tarp to be dragged away. Naturally Simon thought I was raking the leaves and putting them on the tarp just for him. It’s not easy dragging a 90-pound beast. “Can we do it again?”

He also enjoyed the raking part. He thought he had to catch each leaf in his mouth. I’m sure he was thinking, “How many leaves can I get into my mouth at one time?”

You are wondering if Simon ever obeys. Sure he does. On more than one occasion he has traveled on the ice to the other side of Lake Julia and when we call him, he comes right home with his pink tongue hanging out. “Did you want something?” he seems to ask. “I was just on the other side of the lake checking things out. Like, that’s okay isn’t it?”

Simon still does his perpetual counter and floor surfing in the morning. I was thinking that it would be nice if our children were small again. He would be a great tattler. “Hey, Mom, Dad, look what one of your kids left on the floor. Weren’t they supposed to pick up their clothes before going to bed? Do you think they will ever learn?”

If there is something on the floor, Simon will find it and bring it to you just to remind us that we also are to pick things up. All of this surfing has taught him another lesson – how to barter.

Being around antique dealers who enjoy bartering, this has rubbed off on Simon. Simon has become an expert at bartering. The only way he will release something is to receive a dog treat in exchange for whatever he is carrying. He will politely drop what he has at your feet while you give him the treat. You have to be quick to grab it because if you don’t, he will hold you hostage for another treat.

He still believes our cat is a toy. Poor Teddy. He just can’t get any peace. If it’s not Simon’s big nose smelling him, it’s his big tail, which never stops, whacking him in the face. Is there such a thing as a cat therapist? Teddy may need some counseling.

Oh, yes, I haven’t talked about the best dog toy ever yet. For Halloween we purchased four or five medium size pumpkins and put them near the house. Cold weather is not kind to pumpkins because, as you know, they become soft and mushy when it gets cold.

After they begin to look sick, I throw them into the woods. Of course, whenever you throw anything in front of a golden retriever, their instincts take over and they bring it back to you. “What, you weren’t going to throw this away were you?”

So here is Simon carrying around these huge pumpkins in his mouth. They froze solid and turned into boulders but that didn’t deter Simon who has jaws of steel and a neck that would put any pro football player to shame.

I had a little fun with the pumpkins as I pretended they were bowling balls and I rolled them down the driveway. Simon would retrieve them and I would roll them again. It was better than throwing frozen turkeys, which reminds me that I should never do that around Simon.

We are giving some thought to marketing frozen pumpkins as dog toys. They last quite awhile especially when they take on the characteristics of a rock.

If you ever come to visit and notice some yellowish orange stuff showing through the snow, it’s not dog urine, it’s pumpkin pieces. In the wisdom of golden retrievers, “If it is retrievable, it is eatable.”


JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.