JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Simon and Simone adopt a sister

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In the ongoing adventures of Simon and Simone we find them curled up on the rug next to the fireplace on a cloudy and cold January afternoon. Every once in a while Simon will jerk his leg as if he is dog paddling in the cool waters of Lake Julia on a sunny June morning.

As all winters are, this winter seems to be longer than usual while the snow gets deeper and deeper. For this reason we haven’t taken as many walks on the lake. Simon and Simone have to bound through the snow as deer do in the deep forests where the snow is nearly up to their bellies.

The snow has also curtailed our ice fishing adventures. I like to sit out on the ice for hours while the dogs explore this and explore that. They would give me that look, which says, “Isn’t it about time you went to shore to get us a stick to chew on?” So I would get off of my chair and go to shore to find a stick for each of them.

I have said this before in writing about Simon and Simone that they look at me as if I am supposed to be their activity director. When they are resting in the house and look bored, they look at me and say, “Well, what are we going to do next? What do you have planned?” They don’t quite get it that they can also entertain themselves. It’s not like they are at a summer camp.

I tell them, “Why don’t you go outside and play. You don’t need me.”


They say, “Yes, but with you it’s more fun. Plus we can’t throw sticks.”

I am trying to convince Simon to be the Assistant Activity Director but he wants no part of it especially since we adopted Sissy, my sister-in-law’s pet. Sissy is a small dog. She can walk under the bellies of both Simone and Simon. She has some terrier mix in her, which means she likes to chase rabbits and squirrels. She doesn’t obey as well as Simon and Simone plus she occasionally pees on the carpet. Simon looks at her, “How disgusting, Sissy. Where are your manners?”

Initially she would not venture out on the ice with us, and only walked along the bank that borders the lake. It took several weeks before she got enough courage to join us on the ice. Still she sticks close to the shore while she sniffs the animal tracks hoping a critter is hiding among the overhanging trees and cattails. I am getting worried about spring and the awakening of skunks.

Due to the deep snow, most of our walks this winter have been up and down our long driveway. The dogs know the meaning of “Let’s go for a walk.” There’s a flurry of activity while I put on my boots and jacket. It’s like when children have to go to the bathroom really bad and there is someone in the bathroom. Sissy barks and barks until we get outside. Being the smaller of the dogs she can squeeze in front and be the first one out the door.

Sissy runs ahead while Simon and Simone will run about ten yards and then return running as fast as they can to jump on me. If I am not in a linebacker stance, they will roll me over. This will go on for three or four times and then they will run to catch up with Sissy. I interpret their actions as a “thank you.” “Thanks, John, for finally taking us outside so we can run and pee and run and pee and run some more.”

Simon and Simone more or less tolerate Sissy. When Sissy came to us she brought along her own toys. Naturally, in the life of a dog, it’s share and share alike unless one dog gets it first. Sissy’s toys were quickly requisitioned by Simon and Simone while at the same time, Sissy also requisitioned their toys.

I usually know what Simon and Simone are thinking but sometimes I’m not sure. I will wake up in the middle of the night to find one or the other’s head resting on the edge of the bed with two big brown eyes looking squarely at me. They could be trying to tell me, “Hey, John, how about a snack?” Or, “Hey, John, do we have to be nice to Sissy?” Or, “Isn’t it about time for a walk?”

Kathy thinks they are just insecure and need some assurance that we aren’t going to leave them like we do when we take them to the kennel. Sissy thinks the same way. I think she is saying to herself, “Am I going to be moved again or is this it?” We pat the dogs on their heads and tell them to “Lie down and go to sleep.” And, they do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give everyone a pat on the head when they needed it and tell them that everything is going to be OK.


Sissy is a mystery to us sometimes. We will be walking in the woods and all of a sudden she will disappear. I will say to Simon, “Go find Sissy.” We look and look and I am about ready to get in the car and hunt for her. I go into the house to tell Kathy that I can’t find Sissy and there she is lying under the table. Kathy says, “She was here all the time.” I say, “That can’t be. I was just with her in the woods.” Simon shakes his head, “John’s right. Sissy was just with us. Maybe she has a twin.”

The highlight of the winter for the dogs is just being able to roll in the snow. They must like the coolness on their body plus it’s an overall body scratch. They also like climbing on top of the snowbanks with me and just sitting there looking out towards the lake.

It’s quiet and still except for the sound of a distant ice auger. We just sit close, one on each side of me. My arms are around their necks and we are all thinking about how nice it will be when the snow melts and the warm winds of spring greet us once again.

Simon looks around, “Where’s Sissy?” Simone says, “We better go check in the house before we go looking for her.” Simon says, “Good idea.”

Riddle: Why should you be careful when it rains cats and dogs? Answer: Because you might step in a poodle! With three dogs around the house, we have to be careful where we step. You, too, be careful out there.


Project Graduate and its goal of 100% graduation rate is pleased to add the support of the Hubert Humphrey Job Corps Center program, which is located in St. Paul but recruits young adults from northern Minnesota. Job Corps is the nation’s largest free education and job training program.

We can all help our youth graduate when:

  • Our schools teach them hands-on skills that help them find a job.
  • We continually expose them to careers.
  • We remind them of JOB CORPS opportunities.

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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