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John R. Eggers: Our dog Simon ‘defeets’ the winter season

Simon, our nearly two-year-old Golden Retriever puppy, got through the winter.

He not only got through it, he “defeeted” it. If you are unable to find socks in our local clothing stores it’s because we had to keep buying new ones to replace those that Simon found and chewed up while doing his morning surfing on counters, floors and chairs. He isn’t to the point of actually taking them off of your body but we try to keep shoes on at all times. His favorite color is black. I am not sure if it really is his favorite color or if we just have more black socks than other colors. Nevertheless, soggy, half chewed socks litter our house and yard. This was Simon’s second winter and, I think, his favorite so far. He enjoyed climbing to the very top of the plowed snow piles to plant his many sticks with the same gusto as someone planting a flag on top of Mt. Everest. I’m fearful of walking him past Buena Vista. I can see him bolting out of my grasp, grabbing someone’s ski poles and racing to the top of the hill to plant a ski pole. I learned there is a positive relationship between the number of things he can get into his mouth and the faster and harder he wags his tail. I should have kept count of the number of times our cat, Teddy, got whacked in the face. Just when Teddy would settle down for a long winter’s nap along would come Simon’s tail to wake him up. “Hey, Teddy, let’s play. You run and I’ll chase you.” I almost expected Teddy to hire a lawyer and plead his case before the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). I didn’t take Simon ice fishing last year for two reasons. I didn’t think he could resist taking my long yellow bobbers sticking out of the water and I wasn’t sure if he could just sit on the ice for hours and hours. This winter was different. Can anyone resist the whining of a Golden Retriever? When he saw me walking out to my fish house, he started to plead his case. “I promise, I will leave your bobbers alone and not eat the minnows.” Simon acted just like I did when my father took me fishing when I was young. As a kid I would run and slide on the ice, lie on the ice, sit on the ice, and roll on the ice. Simon did the same. If I got bored I would go on shore and get some sticks to start a fire. When Simon got bored he went on shore to find a stick to show me. If I spotted someone else on the ice, I wanted to go visit with them and ask how they were doing. When Simon spotted someone on the ice, off he would go until I called him to return, which, to my amazement, he did. He would have enjoyed coming into the fish house but I did something smart and made it a one person, no Retriever fish house. If Simon got thirsty he would drink water from one of the holes in the ice. “Simon, you are going to have drink a long time before you drink that hole dry.” I think it was about the middle of January when I noticed a peculiar smell in our house. I smelled under my arms, “No, not me.” Then one night before I put Simon in his room he followed me into the bedroom and there was that horrible smell again. “Simon, you need a bath.” The next day Simon jumped in the back of the car and off we went to the car wash, which happens to have a very nice pet washing station. Simon didn’t know what he was getting himself into, nor did I. By the time our time was up, it was hard to discern which one of us took the bath. We were both sopping wet. The bad smell went away and I could detect a faint smile on Simon’s face, “Could we do this again someday?” For Simon, the highlight of the winter was getting his own bedroom. How many dogs have their own bedroom? Like small children, Simon, at first, had to be pulled and pushed and bribed to go to bed. That was until I remembered what it took to get my own children to go to bed. I lay down on the floor in his bedroom and in a few seconds Simon is lying by my side. I sing him a short lullaby and in a few minutes, his eyes are closed and mine are too. I wonder when I will be able to sleep in my bed again? Simon doesn’t know it but he is about to have a life changing experience. Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned for more in the wonderful adventures of Simon. JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.