Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the category “Life in Colorado”

Tough Dad, Champion Son

He was a celebrity in our town — a former football star at Colorado State who went on to play in the N.F.L. for a couple teams, including the Broncos.

I met him when he coached the Junior Olympics track team during the summer in Fort Collins.  Some of his N.F.L. friends from other states sent their kids to be coached by him, especially in hurdles and sprints.  Consequently, the Fort Collins summer track program was very good.  One of my offspring, who had just finished 8th grade, was on the team.  So was his youngest son, Jeremy.  I don’t want to say the last name in respect for Jeremy’s privacy.   Hereinafter, Jeremy’s father shall be known as Dad.

So the next spring, at the state high school championship track meet, Jeremy’s Dad and I were sitting together, watching the various events.  Because my daughter was a freshman then, I had not attended the state meet the prior year.  Jeremy was a senior at the same high school, doing very well, so I assumed Jeremy did well the year before.

I asked his Dad, “How did Jeremy do last year?”  It was not a surprising question, but the answer was.

“Jeremy did not run last year.  He did not turn in a school project in photography, so he did not compete in the state track meet.”

“What? Jeremy was academically ineligible just for one elective project?  It doesn’t seem like that would affect his overall grade point that much,” I commented.

Dad explained, “No, it was not the teacher who prevented Jeremy from competing at state.  It was me.  Jeremy needs to learn to be responsible.”

As I recall, Jeremy won three individual events his senior year, as well as running on a relay team that also won.  He was thus a champion in four events.  At least a couple of the events were state records.  One of the records tied a national high school record.  The person who held the record that Jeremy tied had gone on to be a champion sprinter in the Olympics.  Fast company!

Jeremy was as fast as any high school runner in the nation.   I bet he would have done very well in the previous year’s state track meet, had he competed.  He probably would have won those same events.  If only his Dad had not interfered.

Jeremy won something else his senior year — a scholarship to C.S.U. in both football and track.  His Dad certainly had something to do with that, and I do not mean pulling a few strings.

Besides contributing some very athletic genes, and coaching him, Jeremy’s Dad taught him some valuable life lessons.  He taught him about being a champion.

 

 

 

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In the Middle of the Night, She Asked Me

I try to not disturb my wife’s sleep.   Sometimes, despite my best efforts, others disturb Sugar’s rest.  For example, last night our 90 lb. puppy, Gus, who just celebrated his first birthday, came up to Sugar’s side of the bed and awakened her by sniffing at her lovely face.

However, it is my job to let Gus out, as he good and well knows, so next he came to my side of the bed and softly barked.  I awakened from a deep sleep, obediently sat on the side of the bed, waited for my consciousness to emerge, and started for the bedroom door in the utter darkness.

Before I got there, I stepped on Beau, one of our other Labrador Retrievers, who was sleeping soundly at the end of the bed.  I tried to lift my foot from Beau, out of kindness, I suppose, sacrificing my extraordinary balance to protect Beau, and landing on my bum knee and then my extended right hand, which did not support my lithe frame, which resulted in my laying on the floor at the foot of the bed, where Gus eagerly jumped on my prone form.

“Get off me,” I said from the floor, which disturbed Sugar, who reminded me that he is just a puppy.  I already knew Gus is just a puppy, yet I felt it would be easier to get up off the floor without a puppy on my chest.

Gus and I walked down the hall, across the balcony, down the steps, through the front room, and out the front door, onto the front porch, then down the steps.  Gus was happy to be out at 2:00 a.m.  I was hobbling on my bum knee, which was much more painful than it had been a few moments earlier.

Gus proved that it was worthwhile to go outside, as from a young age he had been taught to potty outside.  See post entitled, “We slept together the very first night.”

I returned to the bedroom by the same painfully difficult route of going up two flights of steps.  I stealthily slipped under the covers.  Sleepy Sugar hugged me and, with genuine concern, asked, “Did he poop?”

Apparently, she felt it unnecessary to inquire about my health after my fall.  That makes sense because she knows how tough I am.

Pros and Cons of Bowleggedness

For my entire life, I have been bowlegged.  I did not have rickets.  I attribute the condition to riding horses and genetics.  Many fine athletes, such as Gale Sayers and myself, are bowlegged.  It gives us a better base for our superior balance than if we were, heaven forbid, knock-kneed.  Tacklers find it much easier to tackle players whose knees collide anyway.  One might be able to tackle a knock-kneed player with one hand, the knees being so close together and all.  As everyone knows, Gale Sayers and I can only be tackled with great difficulty.  An opposing player can barely reach around both knees at the same time.  I don’t know if Gale likes to ride horses, but I do.  Again, the advantage for a bowlegged rider is obvious.  But enough about me and Gale.

Let’s contemplate the legs of my lovely wife, Miss Sugar.  I doubt that prior to this very day she ever desired to have bowed legs.  For example, when she won the swimsuit event in the Miss Texas pageant, she did not have bowed legs and it is possible that she might not have won had she had bowed legs.  Of course, that is speculation, but nevertheless, Sugar has never seemed envious of my legs.

Today Sugar learned that her legs, as good as they might look, are not as functional as the bowed legs of me and Gale Sayers.  I will tell you what happened today.

As we were talking to a lady in the front yard of a suburban neighborhood, she told us to watch out because a loose dog was coming towards us.  The large dog approached from the rear.  Suddenly, he was in front of me, having passed between my legs.  It was like going under a  bridge.  I do not recall feeling any contact.  He just walked through.  I had an adequate inseam as well as space between my knees.

Then he tried the same thing with Sugar.  It did not go so smoothly,  The dog nearly knocked her down when he tried to go between her legs.  He did not have room to maneuver once he tried to squeeze through.  He got into the tight space and panicked.  Sugar had to move forward with him to try to keep her balance because he was so tall that she was almost sitting on him.  It was like she was riding him.  They moved forward together for nearly ten feet.  Finally, the dog was free again.  Sugar kept her balance.  The danger had passed.

Sugar might be re-thinking which of us has better legs.

legs

The photo above was displayed for weeks at a gallery of photography.  It was larger than life-size in the front window.  These are Sugar’s actual legs.  They served her well for modeling and girly things but, let’s face it, as Gale Sayers could tell you, they really would not work for a running back in the NFL.  Just sayin’.

coffee at church

I am the fella wearing a blue shirt and white hat.  Note how a large dog could run between my legs.

Cross Creek Ranch Swim Team

closeswimGus, who used to be our baby puppy, is now eight months old.  He has reached the age to try out for the swim team.  So he did.

We have a river running through the ranch, only 100 feet or so from the house.  Beau is an expert swimmer.  In fact, in another post I wrote awhile back, I described him swimming across a lake in order to help some fishermen who were, well, fishing from a boat.  Beau disturbed their attempt to sneak up on fish.  Later, he went to the dock and located the fish that had been caught and took one.  Theft is a wrongful taking with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of his property.  Maybe Beau intended to bring the fish back, except he did not.

Gus idolizes Beau.  When Beau went swimming, Gus tried to emulate him.  At first Gus stayed in the shallow water and pretended to swim.  He kept his back legs on the bottom and slapped the water with his front paws.  After awhile, Miss Sugar threw a stick into the channel.  That action presented a dilemma.  Gus loves to fetch but he did not know how to swim.  He whined like a baby as the stick drifted past him.  Then instinct kicked in.  He is, after all, a Labrador Retriever.

So, he swam.  He had a reason to swim.  He swam to the stick.  He even had to stick his muzzle in the water to bite on the stick.  He swam back to shore.   He brought the stick to Sugar.  Just like in the yard but with the extra twist of swimming out, fetching, and swimming back, then climbing ashore and bringing the stick to Sugar.  Wow!  A feat worthy of a Labrador.

So, since that fateful day, Gus heads for the river every chance he gets.  He swims his favorite stroke, Dog Paddle.

Just like a big boy.  A proud member of the swim team.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Reproach

Many of us have enjoyed the cute videos shared on the internet of dogs confronted when they have done something naughty.  Usually the owner recording it will say something like, “Fluffy, what did you do?”  And Fluffy will look so remorseful that it is funny.  Fluffy will hang his head under the burdern of guilt.  Fluffy will display a conscience.

Our puppy Gus is not burdened by a guilty conscience.  He does not hang his head in shame.  He does not put his tail between his legs.

He has mastered a sincere attitude of pride in all he accomplishes.  He wags his tail.  He looks up and smiles, as if to say, “I am glad you noticed.”

/For example, today, my lovely wife, Miss Sugar, bought a new grill and a cover for the grill.  We grilled some steaks within an hour of bringing it home.  When it cooled, Sugar put on the grill cover.  I suppose she intended to protect the grill from the elements.

Gus discovered the tray that catches drippings of grease.  It was not an easy task.  He had to get under the cover, which was awkward, so he wisely decided to remove the cover altogether.

So when I said, like the owners of the cute remorseful dogs, whose videos I have viewed,  “Gus, what did you do??”  his response with body language said what, if it was in words, would be: “Yeah, ain’t it great?  I know what you were thinking.  You were thinking that next time you want to use the grill, you have to take that cover off before you can even use it.  So, I knew you would be happy to see that I removed it in anticipation of your needs.  And don’t think it was easy.  It had those Velcro straps.  I had to use my mouth to bite through that Teflon material.  It took a long time, but now it is mostly off.  I just need you to help me get the tattered remains off too.  It looks stupid to have the grill partially covered. You are welcome.”

I hope Sugar has learned a lesson in utilitarianism.  She often fails to express appreciation for what Gus does for us.  She is very forgiving, but what is there to forgive?

Gus wishes that she would come to recognize that he is, indeed, beyond reproach.

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Where Did Our Puppy Go?

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The dog on the right is our six month old puppy, Gus.  He is sitting with Beau, who weighs 90 lbs.  I don’t know how much Gus weighs.  We miss our baby puppy, pictured below.

Gus at 8 weeks

He adores Beau and copies everything Beau does.

twins (2)beau and gus

MineMe

playmatesMutt and JdffBuds

He grew fast.

twin beds

Miss Sugar Gets Carded

Young people are carded in order to prove that they are old enough to purchase cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.  The sellers of such products require identification showing a birthday in order to calculate age, usually with a drivers license or a fake drivers license.

Miss Sugar looks young for her age.   Her age is, however, more than 21 years.  She is entitled to purchase cigarettes, but refrains.  She seldom purchases adult beverages, but she is legally entitled to do so.

A few days ago, Sugar came home in an unusually good mood.  “I was carded today,” she gleefully announced.

No, she was not trying to purchase alcoholic beverages nor tobacco products nor to attend an adult film.

Do I have your attention?  Are you waiting with bated breath?  Are you curious?

Sugar went to Goodwill on senior discount day.  The cashier would not sell anything to Sugar for a senior discount because Sugar is clearly not a senior citizen.

Except, legally and chronologically, she is (how should I say this,?) — of age to qualify for the senior discount at Goodwill.

So, in order to convince the cashier to extend the discount even to someone who looks like fair Miss Sugar, she had to show her drivers license.  She had indeed been carded.

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Her drivers license photo doesn’t help convince of her advanced age, yet it shows her birthdate.

I wonder if Christie Brinkley has the same problem.

Couch Potato

gus on sofa

We used to really like our tan leather couch.  Now we are ashamed of the new cup holder that Gus carved into the seat.  He did not think we would notice if he nonchalantly stuck his leg in the hole.  But we noticed.

 

Thirty Pounds of Puppy

Gus at 15 weeks

At 15 weeks of age, last week Gus  went to his primary care physician for his veterinary care, which included shots and a checkup.  The checkup involved weighing him on a scale.   The scale read 30 pounds.

That weight for a Labrador Retriever of that age is not unusual.  Some are smaller, some are bigger.  What was remarkable to me is the rate of growth.  Three weeks ago, when Gus had a vet appointment for his 12 week checkup, he weighed less than twenty pounds.

Now for me to gain ten pounds in three weeks is easy.  But for a puppy to increase his body weight by half again what he weighed would be like me gaining 100 pounds in three weeks.

With the holidays here, I will give it a try.

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Beau as Pet of the Year

Readers of this blog who are familiar with numerous posts about our Yellow Labrador Retriever named Beau have an impression of him as an amusing trouble-maker.  Today, I want to amend that view of Beau.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not taking it all back.  The stories about him are all true.  He is indeed a character with a funny personality.  You might recall that many of Beau’s activities have involved “collecting.”  He has robbed both a UPS truck and a FedEx truck.  He has brought me tools from workers.  He has “found” a hat of one of our guests.  He has borrowed towels intended for hot tub occupants.  He has helped himself to breakfasts of persons who negligently got up from the table to get coffee.

But Beau has revealed a selfless side recently.  For acts of kindness, I nominate Beau as our Pet of the Year, an honor that has eluded him for the first six years of his life.

What changed?  Beau has accepted responsibility as the babysitter of our new puppy, Gus.  Beau patiently plays with the exuberant puppy.  He is careful not to hurt Gus.  He allows Gus to climb all over him.  He seems to realize that it would not be a fair fight, so he tolerates the puppy taking Beau’s toys.  He even coaches Gus about fetching and pottying outside.  It is heart-warming to watch the two together.

Today, I witnessed something else that warmed my heart and inspired me to write this post.  Besides Beau and Gus, we also have a female Lab, Sadie, who has tried futilely to teach him how to live his life.  She comes when she is called, for example.

Sadie has always been the first to eat.  No matter which bowl I put down first, that one is hers.  Today, Sadie did not go to her bowl.  Beau finished his meal and stood, waiting for Sadie to eat.  I had to lead her to her food.  Sadie is fourteen, almost.  Her eyesight is going, I suppose, but not her appetite.   I was amazed that Beau did not take Sadies’s food.  He just stood and waited for me to lead Sadie to her food bowl and patiently watched her finish her breakfast.

And for that act of respect  and selflessness, I nominate Beau as our Pet of the Year.

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