The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 24, 2013

Mike Pound: Squirrel rental just the thing for bored dog

By Mike Pound
news@joplinglobe.com

— I think our German shepherd, Shilo, needs a hobby.

Well, she does have a hobby of sorts, but I don’t think chasing squirrels is something Shilo should do all the time. I’m sure, like anything else, chasing squirrels would get old after a while if you were allowed to do it all the time.

That’s the thing about being able to do something all the time: No matter how great it is, it gets old. For example, Mike Shannon, the radio broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals, has what I think is the greatest job in the world. Mike gets to spend most of his time watching baseball and drinking beer. But I’m sure there are days when even Mike wakes up and says: “Man, I don’t want to go to work today. I wish I could spend my time in a cubicle churning out earnings reports.”

Because Shilo doesn’t get to chase squirrels all the time, she spends the rest of her time following me around our house.

Right now, as I type this, Shilo is behind my chair sleeping. Oh sure, sometimes Shilo will wake up and look over my shoulder and say things like: “Really? You’re going with earnings reports? What’s funny about that?”

A few minutes ago, I got up, went downstairs and got some ice water. Shilo followed me into the kitchen, hoping — I guess — that I was there to get something for her to eat. When I just filled up my water glass, Shilo sighed and followed me back upstairs.

I’m spending more time working at home now, so I’m noticing that Shilo doesn’t have much to do during the day. I don’t know what I thought she did when my wife, our 15-year-old daughter, Emma, and I were gone, but I clearly thought it was more than she does.

I guess when you don’t have thumbs, there is a limit as to what you can do. Sometimes, if I open the blinds, Shilo will stare out the window, but staring out the window holds her attention only so long. When she is bored with the window, Shilo will look at me, hoping that I will do something. Most of the time I don’t, so Shilo lies back down.

Sometimes I will get up and start walking downstairs and halfway down the stairs realize that I forgot something and stop, only to have Shilo bump into me from behind. When this happens, Shilo gives me a look that says, “Ever heard of brake lights?”

Then as I turn around to go back upstairs, Shilo follows me, and then she turns around when I head back downstairs. Sometimes when I’m walking downstairs, I’ll stop just for the heck of it just to mess with Shilo.

That’s right. I play practical jokes on my dog.

Our cats don’t seem to mind being home alone all day. Because they are cats, they know exactly how they should spend their free time: sleeping.

In many ways, our cats remind me of members of Congress.

The highlight of Shilo’s day appears to be sometime around midafternoon, when the mail carrier drops mail into our mailbox. When that happens, Shilo drops what she is not doing, runs down to the door, barks a few times, then sighs and walks back upstairs and continues doing whatever it was she wasn’t doing.

Lately, I’ve been trying to come up with a hobby for Shilo. I’ve tried letting her out in the backyard, but that doesn’t seem to appeal to her unless I go out with her and throw a ball so she can chase it and then refuse to give it back to me. But since I’m living the fast-paced, thrill-a-minute life of a newspaper columnist, I don’t have time to play outside with Shilo.

Besides, it has been sort of cold lately.

I wonder if it’s possible to rent a squirrel for a few hours a day.



DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.