Not today, folks, because it’s Father’s Day! Today is the day that I, Mike’s wife of almost five decades (it’s been quite a journey, but that’s another column) will give you a glance on what it’s like to live with this local legend. I’ll bet you can’t wait to hear the details, right?
Well, read on...
First of all, you need to know that it’s been proven that seniors (like us) need domesticated animals as they age. For what, you say? Well, research shows that the most serious disease for older persons is not cancer or heart disease, it’s loneliness. (Note: Now that’s news to this author, who thought that’s why he had a wife! Oh well, I guess the “researchers” don’t count senior partners for much on their “companionship scale,” — Ha! Ha!)
So we, wanting to live within the guidelines of proven senior research, not only have one pet, but are blessed (or is it cursed?) to be the owners of two pushy, overconfident, dominating 20-pound female Bichon Frise canines named Daisy and Lilly. (Please don’t refer to them as dogs in front of them, though, as they prefer to be called “the girls;” it’s more human-like.)
How can two innocent little adorable, lovable-looking, cheerful, happy “know-it-all” diva dogs think they have the ability to give Mike unconditional companionship?
Before we go any further, you should know that Daisy and Lilly actually control their “Dad,” a.k.a. Mike Roberts. Do you know that they really have the power and intelligence to make major decisions in our household?
And we thought raising kids was a challenge?
Well, read on...
Let’s start with meal time. Would you believe that Mike doesn’t dare finish his daily meals/snacks without saving some “tidbits” for the dogs each and every time? No way, you say! How could that be? Even though our dogs are supposed to be non-verbal, they do have their own communication system to get their messages across to him.
For instance, Daisy, our alpha dog, lays right next to his chair at the dining room table (or in front of the TV or when his head is stuck in the refrigerator or wherever he chooses to “snack”) in hopes that he will drop some smattering of food particles on the floor.
(Note: Remember we are seniors and, as we have aged, our agility and ability to get the food from the plate into our mouths without first hitting either the table, front of our shirts or the floor has greatly diminished. Thus the food “spillage” is now “game” for the dogs.)
As soon as a morsel of food hits the floor, faster than the speed of light, and with the strength of a Dyson high-powered vacuum cleaner, Daisy will inhale the food — not because she’s hungry, but because she knows that Lilly is sitting patiently on the other side of Mike’s chair waiting for her chance to grab a snack.
Poor Lilly, too slow again!
This process, which occurs frequently in our house, will explain to you how Daisy weighs 22 pounds and Lilly weighs 18 and both are on the same pet food eating and exercise regime except for “people food.”
I’m sure a few of you dog owners out there are in agreement on this “dual-dog versus man” situation when it comes to sharing “people-food” with their pets. On with the story.
Then there’s travel time. Retiree-Mike will tell you he remembers the days when he would go out for a ride in his truck during the day (when “his bride” is busy with chores; authors do have the exclusive ability to edit the word and truth sometimes) all by himself and just do whatever he felt like for a few hours.
Now, however, as soon as Daisy and Lilly hear him lacing up his shoes in the other room, they are at the “first-alert” stage, sitting upright at the edge of their perspective napping areas. Lilly is in MY recliner chair (they never did learn that pushy dogs do not have furniture rights!) and Daisy is either nestled amongst the pillows on the couch or stretched out in the picture window basking in the sun.
Once Mike puts on his shoes and saunters down the hallway they immediately try to look nonchalant like they don’t care where he’s going or what he’s doing, but they always glance toward him so he can see their big brown pleading eyes saying “take me, take me,” then quickly turn their heads away with the “I don’t give a darn” look.
If he says, “You girls want to go for a ride?” their little hearts start beating a mile a minute as they bound off the furniture and race for the door.
Daisy races to sit by the door to the garage to wait until Lilly has her leash put on her. She’s not allowed in ANY non-fenced in area without her leash because she’s known as the “escapee” in our neighborhood. At any time, if given the chance, she will race like a gazelle through the neighborhood for several minutes —all the while looking back over her shoulder to see if someone is in hot pursuit behind her. To Lilly, that’s “game’s on” – try to catch me.
Daisy, however, would prefer that her leash be attached to Mike’s collar and she could hold the “controls” in her paw! Bossy diva dog!
Once they’re “loaded” into Mike’s truck, they begin jockeying for position. Lilly likes to ride “shotgun” sitting atop the console right next to Mike. She frequently will lean against his shoulder while he’s driving and smile contentedly, occasionally glancing up at him with a supreme “cuteness” loving look on her face.
Daisy, on the other hand, prefers that the passenger seat in the front (THAT’S MY SEAT!) be unoccupied as she has the “right of passage” to that space. Being the Alpha dog, she “runs the show.” She will remind Mike, by looking at him, back at the passenger-side window, back at him, back at the window, etc. until he gets the message to put the passenger-side window down so she can hang her little white curly head out the window and let the wind blow in her face, causing her ears to flap like bird wings.
Once on the road, it’s amazing how each of our pets seems to have an “internal GPS.” They can decipher landmarks along the roadsides that designate which “route” they are currently taking to their destinations.
A walk at Hubbard Park? Oh, what fun for the girls. Where will he take us today? As if he had a say in the matter.
If Alpha-girl Daisy has her way (and she usually gets it as she thinks she’s the head of the household), she’ll want the cool, shady walk under the trees and then, with a glance over her shoulder at Mike, she’ll head right for the brook where she’ll waddle in, wade up over head with a happy, contented look on her face.
Lilly, on the other hand, is our “social girl.” She loves adults, kids, cats, birds and especially other dogs. If there’s another dog within her sight (she prefers the pit bulls, sheepdogs, Great Danes, and other larger-than-life species) she heads right toward them, straining her retractable leash to hurry and socialize with them before they “get way.” Happiness to her is finding other critters or humans that will enjoy her racing around in circles around them (known as the Bichon buzz) to impress them with her “cuteness” form of entertainment. Oh happy day!
Lunch at Tom’s Diner? Do you know that pets have emotions too? We know, because the girls actually feel insulted that dogs are not allowed in the diner for lunch and they are relegated to sitting in the truck to wait for their Dad to eat his lunch.
However, they have trained Mike that after he eats lunch, he never forgets to bring some tasty morsels out to them (exactly 6 – 3 for each of them). When approaching the truck, he will hit his key remote and unlock the doors, which causes Daisy and Lilly to rise from their napping positions into a sitting position like they were just injected with a shot of instant energy because they sense the “food truck is approaching.”
Onlookers frequently get a chuckle out of their performance. Show time is usually anywhere from 11:30 to 12:30 each day if you’re interested in this caper – lol!
Bedtime at the Roberts? Now this is a ritual that should be on TV. At approximately 7:45 p.m. each night, both Daisy and Lilly lay on the floor in front of my chair and begin staring at me.
If I ignore them, then they move a little closer and begin a low-grade whine until I give in and ask them if they want a cookie and go to bed. (Now that’s really sickening; talking to dogs like they’re our kids – but wait! There’s more...). We all go into the kitchen, where each dog gets two treats each (and, yes, they can count and won’t move until they’ve each had two — trust me!).
Then they go outside and “do their thing” and return to the kitchen where they sit and wait for their breath/teeth cleaner (maybe I should give one of these to Mike – H-m-m! Food for thought!).
After they eat those, then they’re ready for the next phase of the “going to bed” ritual. It is now 8 p.m. and Mike comes out of his Mancave and asks, “You girls ready for bed?”
He picks Daisy up first (of course, she’s the Alpha) and carries her into our bedroom and places her on the bed. Then he has to lay on the bed next to her and pet her and ask her for a kiss (I told you it was sickening).
After receiving a big lick on the face from Daisy, he goes back into the living room, where Lilly is waiting patiently for her “ride” to the bedroom. He picks her up, tucks her under his arm like a sack of potatoes, carries her to bed and plops her on the bed for the night. (Note: only Daisy gets the kiss; I’ll have to talk with him about showing favoritism someday – NOT HARDLY!)
Mission accomplished for the day!
I guess I have to agree that Daisy and Lilly have brought Mike and I hours of enjoyment and pleasure, which allows us to overlook their lack of non-compliance with household rules (then again, I’ve overlooked Mike’s non-compliance with many rules for years!).
I still love you all.
Happy Father’s Day to you Mike and to our families, friends and neighbors. Also, on this Father’s Day, please take a moment to thank and appreciate all our servicemen and women who have served and are serving in the armed forces, allowing us here in the United States the privilege of enjoying our freedom. God Bless the USA!