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John Eggers: Simon has his own bucket list

Leaves begin to fall as Simon makes his rounds in the misty morning on the shores of Lake Julia. He strolls up and down the shore with his nose to the ground seeking any adventure that may have happened during the night. His concentration is suddenly interrupted by his 10-week-old daughter, Simone. She races down the bank and jumps on his neck trying to grab her papa’s ear.

The chase begins. Simon dashes among the trees and shrubs and Simone nips at his heels. He comes to a rest and goes down on all fours while Simone leaps on to his back and tumbles over. She jumps again and again, biting his neck and trying to hold on while Simon stands up to renew the chase. Simon and Simone have become playmates.

Simon can now cross one thing off of his bucket list. “I finally have a playmate who likes to run and wrestle.”

Do you have a bucket list? Do you have things to do before you pass away from this good life? I think most of us do. I still want to write that best seller. I still want to travel to Spain. I want to take that unique photograph. I still want to . . .

You and I may have a bucket list because it gives us hope and more meaning in life. What about our pets? We have had Simon for about two years and after studying him and trying to analyze what he is thinking, I believe he has his own bucket list. I see a longing in his eyes that says, “What can I do today that I have never done before?”

One thing is for sure, I know he dreams and I bet he is dreaming about his bucket list.

Simone has become enamored with sticks just like Simon. Unfortunately for Simone, Simon will not allow her to have any — yet. If she does grab one, Simon is right there ready to jerk it out of her mouth. Simon says, “You just aren’t ready for sticks. When you get a bit older, then I will let you have a stick or two. I want to first show you how to handle them properly.”

This is on Simon’s bucket list. He wants to make sure Simone knows all about sticks and what to do with them.

The Lake Julia waters are still. A loon can be heard out in the middle of the lake. A fish jumps and the ripples spread to shore. The solitude is broken by a maniac running from shore and hurling himself in the water. It’s Simon, the Lake Julia Wonder Dog.

When Simon goes into the lake for a brief dip or to get a stick that I have thrown, Simone sits on the bank and watches. Simon looks at her and says, “Now you watch what I do. You are too still young to go into the water. Your day will come ,and I will teach you all about water. For now, just sit and watch and learn.”

Simon, like all golden retrievers, loves the water. On those hot days this summer Simon would wade out into the lake and just linger in the coolness. Then he would dash out of the water, race around as if a crayfish was biting his butt, roll on the grass and find the nearest human to rub up against. You don’t want to be near Simon when he is soaked to the gills.

Simone is watching all of Simon’s antics. “Is this what you do when you get out of the water? Does water make you act this way?” Teaching Simone the right attitude about water and what to do and how to dry is on Simon’s bucket list.

Remember when you and I learned how to dive? It took some courage to dive off of a dock. Simon has not mustered the courage to dive off the dock to fetch a stick. He runs like he is possessed with demons into the water but I can’t get him to run off the dock and jump into the water even though I think this is on his bucket list. Simon says, “I’m working on it but I’m not quite ready.” Will Simone learn how to do this before Simon?

Simon will go on our pontoon boat with us but he is a little skeptical of jumping into the fishing boat, which is okay with me for now. I am afraid he might get tangled in some fishing line and lures. Still it would be nice to have Simon in the boat with me. Many fishermen have their dogs as co-captains. I hope Simon has this on his bucket list. It’s on mine.

Simon’s favorite toys other than sticks are articles of clothing. He still surfs the counters and bedroom in the morning for socks and shorts that have not been put away. When he does find the only way we can get it back is to bribe him with a dog cookie. Simon says, “John, how many times have I told you to put your things away?” Written on Simon’s bucket list is, “I hope John never learns to put things away.”

Simon’s nemesis is Teddy the blue-eyed chocolate colored cat. He lives to chase him. One eye may be shut but the other eye is open to see when Teddy passes by so he can torment him. Our pleas to Simon to stop usually go unheeded. On Simon’s bucket list is, “I hope a day never passes when I don’t have the opportunity to tease Teddy.”

On Teddy’s bucket list is, “I hope Simon drops dead.”

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