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John Eggers: Simon and Simone celebrate their birthday

Simon is 2. Simone is 1. We celebrated their birthdays last Sunday on Father’s Day. As they say, a good time was had by all.

We gave them cake and ice cream and a few toys. We wrapped the gifts in paper and they had no trouble trying to unwrap them.

Not only do people like to unwrap things, dogs do too. Anything that we want people or dogs to do, should come all wrapped up. We might get more things done and in a hurry, too.

They both like to chew on things and tear things apart. “You mean we can chew on these things and rip the paper and you won’t get angry?” Simon asks.

One toy was a rubber ring about the size of a small Frisbee. Right away they both grabbed it and had a tug-a-war. They play together pretty well.  I don’t see how they can destroy this toy but lots of things self-destruct around Simon and Simone.

Kathy asked me the other day, “Who was it that said it was a good idea to have two retrievers rather than one?” The case isn’t closed on this question yet.

Simon is beginning to act more like a father.  I have this suspicion, however, that you can take the puppy from the litter but you can’t take the puppy out of a golden retriever.

It has been a very wet spring and by their nature, golden retrievers enjoy splashing in puddles, rolling in the wet grass, walking along the lake shore in the sand and mud and just take pleasure in having a wet hair look. “But this is what we do,” says Simon. Simone shakes her head in agreement. “We get down and dirty.”

We have learned to adapt to the wet dirty look and have found a place on the first floor where they can dry off by lying on some old blankets. We call the place the “detention room.” Because retrievers are people dogs, they can’t quite figure it out why they are penalized for doing what comes natural to them, which is being around people — always. You can always find them. Just look at your feet, their they are.

Simon says, “See, Simone, I told you we shouldn’t have taken a swim.”

“Yes, well you went in first,” Simone replies.

Rather then spend the night in our bedroom; they spend the night in detention. In the morning they are dry and ready for action. I let them upstairs and crawl. I back into bed.

Simon will put his head on the mattress near my head. “I promise we’ll be good,” Simon says. “Yeah, right,” I say to myself and try to get back to sleep. Before long Simone will put her head on the bed and gently lick my face. Yes, a new day with the dogs has dawned.

Simone used to climb on our bed and try to snuggle up to Kathy but we put a stop to that. It took us about month or so before Simone understood that lying on our pillow next to us is something we, let’s say, frown upon. “Simone, get off of the bed. Now!”

Simone says, “You mean right this very minute or after a little while?”

The two words that Simone doesn’t understand are the foundation for any sensible training, “No” and “Now”. Simone thinks they mean “Yes” and “Later.” She could be dyslexic.

It has been about three months since Simone has given up her kennel. She just out grew it. She weighs about 70 pounds and Simon is about 100 pounds. He is trying to lose a few pounds and being outside this summer and running around should help. Simon has become smarter as he ages and learns the tricks of being a dad.

When we throw a ball, Simone will chase after it. Simon waits until she retrieves it and then takes it away from her. I don’t think this is the way golden retrievers are supposed to act. He may be rewriting the book on “Golden Retrievers in the 21st Century — Changing Patterns of Behavior.”

Simone has discovered chipmunks and squirrels and they are discovering Simone. They come to our feeders to eat the sunflower seeds while keeping eye open for the beast.

Simone’s brother, Drake, who is blind and is parented by my daughter and son-in-law, is adapting just fine. He is an outdoor dog and knows his surroundings. He gets along fine with his father and sister. We are waiting for the day when they introduce him to the lake.

“Come on in, Drake, it’s fun,” Simone and Simon say. “When you get wet you can shake yourself and get the big people wet. They love it.”

Yes, the kids are growing and acting just like kids. Simon sometimes doesn’t want to be a kid and he will go in my office to get away from Simone. “Gee, it’s peaceful in here,” Simon says. “I think I will take a nap.”

After an hour or so, I will leave my office and Simon will still be napping. One thing is for certain, he is learning what it means to be a dad.

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