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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Simon and Simone have a summer activity director. . .me!

John Eggers

I am not sure how it happened but for some reason our two golden retrievers, Simon and Simone, selected me as their summer activity director. It’s as if they are at a summer camp and it’s my responsibility to make sure they have some fun every day. If I don’t do anything with them they mope around all day, watching me with four big brown eyes that say, “Isn’t it time to go for a walk or take a swim?”

Since when do dogs have to be entertained? What happened to the good ol’ days when dogs would play by themselves outdoors? I don’t recall ever having to entertain our pets when I was growing up. We would play fetch now and then but without rewarding them for treats. Today’s dogs have to be rewarded for everything. When will it end! I think they have been watching too many commercials featuring dogs.

The older the dog the more likely they will spend most of their day snoozing, which is good. And, if you are lucky, when the days are hot, dogs like to find the shade and just stay put, which is also good. Simone and Simone are kind of like young adults, late teen dogs so they still enjoy being entertained, which is not good.

They are beginning to know the words “walk” and “swim” and “go to the dump”. When I say, “Hey, boys, let’s go to the dump”, translated that means I will take them for a walk in some unposted hay field. So, they get excited about going along.

A bonus for the dogs when I take them for a walk is that they get to eat grass. They eat just like a couple of cows munching away at some nice juicy clump. While they eat, I think about what we will do next. There is no free time for summer activity directors at doggie camps.

Simon and Simone’s favorite summer activity, like all campers, is swimming. They will do this on their own but they like it best when I throw something in the water for them. I wonder if I threw myself in the water if they would come and save me. Something tells me I shouldn’t try it.

I don’t give them beach towels so they shake off the water and then roll in the grass. Sometimes Simone will forget and roll in the dirt. If they swim in the morning they will have dried off by nightfall. If they swim late in the afternoon, they spend the night in detention in a sealed off area in the house so they can dry off. Around midnight, Simon will began to moan saying, “We’re dried off now. Can we come upstairs?”

Next to swimming, they enjoy the time in the pontoon boat. Actually, the boat doesn’t even have to be moving. When we do go out into the water, they stick their heads between the side rails to catch the sea breezes. If a boat gets too close to us, they bark, which translated means, “Don’t you know this is our lake?”

When I am not entertaining them they have free time and they may take a minute or two from their naps to go looking for rabbits and chipmunks. Luckily the rabbits have chosen the neighbor’s vacant house as a sanctuary city and they can easily go under the house for safety. Chipmunks, unfortunately, have no sanctuary city. This can be hazardous to one’s health, as several chippies have learned this summer.

Activity directors have to be concerned about the health of their campers. Both Simon and Simone have their wood tick medicine and it works. Why can’t they create a wood tick medicine for humans? When a wood tick hops on either Simon or Simone, it hops off to find another ride. Who do you think they catch a ride with?

In all of the years we have lived on Lake Julia, this has been the worst year for ticks. One year Kathy gave our kids a dime for each wood tick they found on the dogs. If she would have given me the money this year for finding ticks on myself, I could have bought a couple of boxes of night crawlers.

Activity directors also have to see to it that the campers take their medicine, which I have delegated to, Kathy, my assistant director. They whine and crawl away to a safe zone like under the table.

Simon and Simone have both been licking their feet a lot this summer. It could be an allergy but it is very annoying to the point that their slurping wakes us up at night. Our vet prescribed a spray solution and even though it doesn’t sting or smell the dogs cringe when they see us coming with the bottle.

As you can surmise, I did capitulate and agree to be Simon and Simone’s summer activity director. It’s been a long time since I directed a summer rec program. Your work never stops. When the kids (dogs) are sleeping you are thinking about what you will do the next day to keep them busy.  I keep hoping Simon and Simone won’t ask me to tell them ghost stories or take them on an overnight. I’m getting too old for this.

Riddle: What do you call a cow that walks on water? (Holy cow!) If I can survive this summer, I expect to walk on water.

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

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