Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where Are My Fancy-Smancy Socks?


Stephen Hawking the so-called brilliant astrophysicist passed away recently.  I say “so-called” because I believe the guy was vastly overrated. He was a theoretical physicist, which meant he used all his extraordinary brain power coming up with these complex theories on the universe that no one could understand. 

I mean he spent a lot of time just staring into black holes. So he was similar to, no better than a, well a –

(Okay, just insert your best offensive joke right here.  Just make sure it does not include the word “gynecologist”.)

The point is, he spent his time on very impractical things. Theories on black holes and the origins of the universe don’t improve my life in any tangible way. I, however, choose to focus my brain power on much more practical matters, such as:

WHERE ARE YOUR SOCKS THAT GO MISSING IN THE DRYER?   
 
Now this is also one of the great mysteries of the universe, but it occurs very
Staring into a black hole!
frequently under our own roofs. I had the occasion to ponder this question recently when my wife cleaned out her “sock refuge” basket and presented me with 14 orphaned socks.

It saddened me to look through the pile.  In included some great socks, a few I remembered from long ago and had only worn a couple times. How did these poor socks get orphaned and where, oh where, are their mates?

Now you may think this lost sock problem is insignificant, but you would be wrong, so wrong!  A study in England found that we lose 1.3 socks a month or 15 in a year. Which calculates out to 1,264 socks in our lifetime or $2,500. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but when you come to the end of your life and your funds are running out, that could be the difference between eating dog food versus a ham sammich. All because you couldn’t keep track of your socks!

The pile of orphans
I was relieved to see those statistics because I estimate I lost my 14 socks over about a two-year period, which puts my separation rate much below average. Still, I felt an obligation to match those socks up with their lost partners. This caused me to do something extremely uncomfortable for a man. I reorganized my sock drawer. Yes, you read that correct. I actually spent time going through my hosiery. Now I know this is not a manly thing to do, and it does pain me to admit it publicly. But I will argue that I should be able to retain my “Man Card” on the basis that the action was necessary to complete this very important project.

I found seven orphans in my sock drawer and I was able to match up all seven with the orphans from the basket.  Hallelujah!  14 lost socks had been redeemed.  I started singing:

Reunited, and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey
*

Now I do admit to owning too many pairs of those patterned, fancy-smancy socks. This is because my friend Jeff told me about Roger, who was the first man at his company to begin wearing fancy-smancy socks.  All the guys snickered behind Roger’s back at his gaudy hosiery, but even though Roger was an arrogant, disgusting, sunavabeech, he quickly rose through the ranks to become CEO.  In basketball it “must have been the shoes” but in the corporate world, it’s all about the socks, fancy-smancy socks.


I have worn fancy-smancy socks ever since. This discount store I shop at sells $3 socks for only $1. Only $1!  So I buy three pair.  Except that I don’t really need any, therefore I end up spending $3 I don’t need to, in order to save $6.  That’s shopper’s math right there.

My fanciest-smanciest pair of socks is shown here. Now I did not buy these. They were
given to me to wear at my daughter’s wedding. I know posting this pic also threatens my “Man Card”, but the photo was taken on Easter when the church has ordained people to wear bonnets, pastels and all other gay apparel.

But where do the lost socks go? That study in England attempted to answer this, but its findings were lame. I decided to make like Stephen Hawking and peer into the black hole inside my dryer, but it was just too darn dark to see anything. I guess I’m just not as smart as Hawking. He must have had great night vision.

Now in the Church of Wayward Socks, the devil is static cling. I’m thinking the socks just get stuck to other clothing.  But if this was so, you would see people at the store all the time with socks stuck to their clothes.  One time my friend Lynn went to the store with a pair of panties stuck on her back. She claims it was an accident, I believe it was an advertisement.

I have two ideas to help mankind deal with this scourge. The first is to create a website, Sock-Match.com, where single socks create a profile to find their perfect match. But of course, there would still be some disappointments:

Marcy says: I’m a purple argyle. I’m never going to find my match, my sole-mate.

Yolanda says: He lied in his profile!  He claimed he was lavender, but he was aqua!  Aqua! We clashed right from the start, boo hoo!

But my best idea to determine where these socks go is to use modern tracking technology. All they have to do is put tracking sensors into every sock and then record where the lost socks end up. If they ever conduct a study like this, I will be first in line to sign up. And I will be sure to wear some fancy-smancy socks to the interview to make sure I am chosen!

*Lyrics by Peaches & Herb   


Monday, March 26, 2018

Turkeys Gone Wild – In My Backyard!


2018 has been a difficult year for me.  I had to suffer through a nasty case of influenza.  I had to grieve for a beloved pet. And now I have a severe wild turkey problem.  No, I’m not an alcoholic – the other issues did not drive me to drink.  Yes, I mean a conflict with actual wild turkeys.

As you can see from this photo, a wild turkey is on my deck, peering into my
Helloooooooooo!

house, and he is not happy. This would not be unusual if I lived in the country, but I live in the preppie suburbs. However, there are wooded areas nearby, including next to the back of my property, so some of my neighbors are not preppies, but varmints.   

But why is this turkey on my deck and what is he upset about?  Well, of course I will explain, but let me state up front that I am totally innocent of any wrong doing because ….

I Blame The Squirrels

I have fed the squirrels during the winter for many years.  Some of my friends think I’m nuts (hey, hey) for doing this. But my father’s love for animals, spawned by growing up in the woods of Pennsylvania, was at least partially passed down to his son.  We have five bird feeders that the squirrels can’t access, the main bird feeder being protected by a baffle. We also have two squirrel feeding stations, a bowl on the deck and a converted plastic bird bath. I provide the two stations so the squirrels won’t fight so much over the food.

However, this year there are a bumper crop of young squirrels.  There must have been an excessive amount of unbridled squirrel sex taking place in that woods.  Call it fifty shades of gray squirrels.  Often there are several hungry squirrels arriving at the same time.  So, in addition to the feeders I started scattering a significant amount of sunflower seeds on the ground.

Now I know it is expensive to buy all this seed, but I work at home so watching the squirrels and birds serves as entertainment and a stress reducer.  And by
We are the squirrels - We are the people
providing more food, I greatly reduced the number of squirrel fights.  One time, there were eleven squirrels by the feeders, all having breakfast in peace. And it was a diverse group of gray, brown and black squirrels. If squirrels awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, I would be sure to win it. 

The Turkeys Arrive

A few years ago, I thought it was really neat when I spotted a couple of wild turkeys in my yard. The next year there were a few more, and last year there was a large rafter roaming the neighborhood.  Yes, a rafter.  That is the Associated Press’ approved term for a group of turkeys. 

(I know you may disagree with this term.  There are many names used for a group of turkeys, depending on where you live.  Somehow the U.S. Bureau of Standards never established an official turkey group name, so now people actually spend time arguing about this on the Internet. But if you don’t like the term rafter, please don’t contact me.  Call the Associated Press at 1-877-836-9477 and be sure to tell them you are calling to argue about turkey names. I’m sure they will tell you where to go.)

I was even amused last year when a few of the turkeys stopped by to munch on some seeds by the bird feeder.  However, this year the entire rafter of 13
turkeys or so, was frequently devouring all the seeds I had
Lunch Time!
put out for the 
squirrels. They even fly up on the deck rail and clean out the seeds in the bowl.


This is an outrage! How dare the turkeys eat the squirrel food! This is totally unacceptable! And filling five bird feeders and feeding a bunch of hungry squirrels is already very expensive. I had reach my limit, so I started aggressively chasing the turkeys away from the feeder and out of my yard.

Since I was battling against wild turkeys, I began to study their behavior.  I tried to figure them out. Who was going to prevail in this conflict? Turkeys are supposed to be very intelligent animals, but surely, I am much smarter, right?

I noticed that the more I chased the turkeys away, the more they seemed to want my food. Of course, this torqued me off.  I attributed this to the “Garden of Eden” effect.  I was keeper of the forbidden fruit and that just made the turkeys want it more. I naturally assumed that the turkeys were evil, because like humans they apparently had a sinful nature.  When I chased the turkeys away from the feeder, they would scamper to the back of my property and then stop and stare at me.  They weren’t really afraid of me, and often they would soon return to devour more seeds.

In response, one Saturday I began chasing the turkeys all the way to the back of my property and into the woods. I recorded a video of it with me yelling “Go turkeys!  Get away turkeys!”  It was a hit on Facebook, but incredibly did not go viral.  The video clearly proved I was smarter and superior to those stupid birds.

However, the next morning I was startled because my back yard was literally full of turkeys. The regular rafter was there, but there were two additional rafters. I guess you could say there were turkeys to the rafters.  There were freakin’ turkeys everywhere!  If Alfred Hitchcock had made a Thanksgiving horror movie, I’m sure this is what it would look like. I counted 36 turkeys, but may have missed a couple. Now I have no proof of this since I didn’t get a picture.  My family wonders if I was seeing too many wild turkeys or drinking too much Wild Turkey. (You be the judge). This also means there had been a lot of wild turkey sex going on in the brush. This is a case of “Turkeys Gone Wild”.  I’m telling you, those woods are wanton.

I reasoned that these, wild, evil turkeys had gotten peeved at me for chasing them into the woods the day before and had called in the other neighborhood turkeys as a show of force.  Turkey shock-and-awe, as it were.  Well, that didn’t work, cause I’m too tough for that. I open the deck door and ran all 36 turkeys away – and then maybe, just maybe, I flexed because it felt so good.

Then It Got Turkey-Real

Later that afternoon, my wife was leisurely reading the Sunday paper when she heard a thump on the deck door.  She thought a bird had flown into it as they often do.  But then she heard several more thumps in succession and assumed someone was knocking on the door. And “somebody” was!  It was literally two “Peeping Toms”, standing at the door, intently staring in at our kitchen.  My wife shooed them away and was upset at the turkeys, and of course at me for “causing” this problem. Let’s just say she was equally upset with all turkeys involved with this situation. (The photo at the beginning of the post is from a subsequent “knocking” incident) But I have to admit, those turkeys are very smart!

But then I figured out this whole turkey situation. I got inside the turkeys’ heads and started thinking like a turkey – I know, not that difficult for me. 

I had started putting out much less seed for the squirrels since the turkeys were eating so much of it. That day, the turkeys had eaten all the available food but were still hungry.  So the two alpha-turkeys decided to knock on the door to let me know the rafter wanted more food. (Hellooooo, can we get some service here!  What type of a diner are you running?)

This changed my whole perception of the turkeys.  They believed I was a good guy because I was feeding them. (Why else was I putting out this food?).  When I shooed them off without hurting them, they thought it was a game (First this guy puts out the food – then he pretends he doesn’t want us to eat it and chases us around! What a gobble!)  And the massive number of turkeys in my yard that morning was not a show of force, but of affection. (Guys, you got to see this this. There’s this goofy human who puts out food for us and then play games with us!) The turkeys like me, they really like me!

The turkeys are not evil. They are good!  Good, really good, turkeys. They like that I am feeding them and enjoy playing games with me!  Now my instincts, passed down from the woods of Pennsylvania, would be to bond with the turkeys and nurture a relationship with them.  However, I don’t live in the woods. I live in the preppie suburbs. So, I will not bond with the turkeys. I will also stay married. Fortunately, spring is here so the animal feeding will end soon and the turkey problem will cease.

And the turkeys were not the only backyard problem this winter. I also had to take drastic measures to prevent deer from emptying my main bird feeder every night. They eat directly from the feeder by dragging their tongues across
The Shroud of Ake
the feeder troughs. I have been able to prevent this by employing “The Shroud of Ake” (trash bag attached with a rubber band) on the feeder every evening.  I have hopes this shroud will become as popular as the one from Turin.

And I’m not sure I should even call this a “bird” feeder anymore since over the years the animals eating its seeds on the ground have included: rabbits, groundhogs, skunks, possums, foxes, raccoons, ducks, geese and feral cats.  And oh, yeah – turkeys. Lots of turkeys. Too many turkeys.  

Get my new book here: http://www.donake.net/


Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Man-Flu Controversy Erupts


(My new book Will There Be Free Appetizers? is now available!)

Back in January I blogged about my experience with the nasty influenza strain that sickened many people across the country this season.  My intense symptoms began on a Sunday, unfortunately I was contagious on Saturday and infected my wife, who fell ill on Monday. 

Therefore, we had two very sick people in one household, my wife downstairs and me upstairs, trying to get through this awful malady.   I began posting “Reports from the Ake Infirmary” on Facebook as an amusing way to update friends and family on our conditions.  Through friends’ responses to these posts I learned just how nasty this flu was, with some people being hospitalized and others stuck at home for three or four weeks.  Most people who got this nasty flu strain were down for at least five days.

By Wednesday, I was worried about my wife. She would need a doctor’s note if she missed one more day of work and neither of us was in any shape to drive.  But then something wonderful happened! We caught a break. Thursday morning my wife felt much better and went back to work.  She was ill for only three days, an exceptional recovery for this virus.

I immediately posted on Facebook that even though I was still very ill, my wife was all better and had returned to work. I thought this was very positive, uplifting news. Just great news. Really, really, positive, great news.  But of course, I was wrong.  Because sometimes when men are communicating with women, they think they are saying something good, but it turns out they are really saying something bad.  My post got a lot of women hot, but not in a good way.  I had somehow touched a sensitive area.  No guys, not that area! A bad area, a very bad area, indeed.

So because I was still be sick, my Facebook feed immediately started to blow up with comments from women such as these:

“That’s because you are male. Sorry, did I just write that out loud?”

“We all thought it. You just said it!”

“What Valerie said (referring to first comment) … sorry Ake-man but it’s the truth! Lol”

“Hmm, imagine that. The female is bouncing back – the male is still not feeling good (wink emoji)”

“We have to. Our men milk a splinter, so a cold knocks them out for six”

“ “Milk a splinter” is the best line I’ve heard in ages!”

Usually when I say something that I feel is positive but is somehow misconstrued by a female, I hack off only my wife. But this comment generated estrogen-fueled rage throughout the country.  I knew somehow I had hit a nerve, a strong nerve, that I had no clue even existed.  Apparently, this is a big deal to women because they were ravaging me despite the following:

1.   These women have an overall positive opinion of me.  I mean they are still my Facebook friends regardless of some of the outrageous things I post. They like me.  And some are close friends, including one from back in high school where we may or may not have engaged in .. ah, well, let’s not go there.

2.   I am happen to be extremely ill at the time of this mock-fest.  The women showed no restraint in “kicking a guy (big emphasis on guy) while he was down”.

At first, I was offended by this but then realized that most women must be super-annoyed at this occurrence. But as a male, this issue breaks down this way:

Women are upset that after suffering from a cold or flu virus they regain their health, and feel much better, faster than men do.

The female response to this statement – Heck, yeah! Whiny man-child!

The male response: What????????????????

This is of course a prime example of “Female Logic”.  Female Logic is a highly complex way of thinking using the mysterious component known as estrogen.  While this logic is considered obviously correct by its formulators, it is totally baffling to the entire male population. Conversely, testosterone-driven “Man Logic” is sometimes not comprehensible to anyone, and is responsible for all the wars ever fought throughout history.

However, there is scientific evidence indicating cold and flu viruses have a more profound impact on men than women, allowing women to suffer less and recover faster.  And I wholeheartedly agree with all scientific studies which confirm my existing beliefs or support my views.  All research which contradicts me is flawed, biased and in a word “wacko”.


Several studies have found that men have more symptoms and higher fevers when confronted with viruses.  And I believe, even though I am not a doctor, I have found the true reason.  A doctor from the University of Kansas said “The female hormone estrogen slows down how fast a virus multiplies”.  Well of course it does!

The virus be like, “Hey, you want to multiply?” 

The female body be like, “Not right now. I have a headache and I’m not in the mood. Go away!”

Where the male body be like, “Multiply!!!!! Let’s get it on!”

And there are probably good, biological and evolutionary reasons for this, which I won’t go into because I would be labeled as a sexist, misogynist, pig-monster. As well as names I would have to look up and I don’t have time for that.

So Ladies, you must admit that if you are all independently observing this phenomenon, and scientific studies back this up, then men do actually get sicker, and so we are all good right?  I sense, no we are not, for one important reason.

Women claim that men excessively whine and complain when they are ill (milk a splinter).  Of course, I have no idea what they are talking about.  I myself suffer in silence and fight off my maladies stoically and machismo-fally like a real man.  

Okay, okay. I do realize that my wife did join into the Facebook banter detailed above with this comment:

“That’s what happens when you give it to your wife (uh, she means the flu). Now I have to deal with his complaining”.

I really don’t know what she is talking about, and may I point out that many people lie on Facebook.  For the record, I was sick for nine days, six days longer than my wife.  And I wasn’t milking no splinters. I may have complained once or twice but only because I was delirious. Yeah, delirious – that’s the
ticket.

So guys, I would highly recommend that we stop whining and moaning so much when we are ill.  We are not getting any sympathy from our women by complaining.  We are merely torqueing them off.  Which means when we are feeling better and able to resume certain conjugal activities, your urges may be blunted by estrogen-generated resistance.

However, I must remind you ladies it is unproductive to get overly perturbed that you have a biological advantage which allows you to better deal with viruses.  If you disagree, may I point out that it is probably in the same category of biological advantage that enables women to outlive men by a significant number of years (27 in my mother’s case).  And don’t worry, a man, no matter how much of a whiner, has never been able to complain that his wife has outlived him.   





Sunday, February 25, 2018

One Last Look – Part 3 (A Tribute to Midnight, My Dog)


(Writing this series was so difficult for me.  The “bd” designations count the number of times I had stop for “breakdowns” in the process)

Spoiler Alert: Stories about great dogs never end well ….. (Grab a box of tissues – really)

Midnight and I developed a tremendously strong bond over the 16½ years we were together (bd13).  As a first-time dog owner, I was unaware that this bond was even forming.  Midnight just provided fun, companionship and joy on a daily basis. 


This connection between dog and man is so intense because it is a life-long process.  When humans fall in love, there is that huge emotional jolt at the beginning of the relationship. Eventually the intensity eases to a more stable level.  But the dog/man relationship occurs drip by drip, day by day, and it never stops. And the reason it never stops is that the dog won’t let it.  It is the dog that keeps pursuing you and you naturally keep responding back in the same way.

But if the dog is the one responsible for continuously strengthening the bond, this leads me to a startling revelation: Your dog loves you more than you love your dog.  I will let this one settle in for all you dog people out there.  I repeat: Your dog loves you more than you love your dog (bd14).  Of course, I can’t prove this -- but which of you is happier when you are reunited after an absence? Have you ever vigorously waged your tail in this situation? I rest my case.

There were events over the years that solidified the connection between Midnight and me.  When I was unemployed for months during the Great Recession, we spent more time together.  I didn’t realize how much he helped me through that time.  Many days I felt abandoned by the world, but my dog never gave up on me (bd15), although I’m sure he was sad when I returned to work. (Of course, he was the only one to feel this way)

My daughter who was Midnight’s chief caregiver, eventually moved out of the house.  I thought she would take the dog with her but she knew Midnight would be happier being around more people. He missed her, but I was secretly happy that the dog stayed and that he relied more on me now that his favorite person was gone.

After I began working from home in 2013, Midnight and I spent even more time together (detailed in a previous blog post and in my book Just Make Me A Sammich).  My favorite memory is that I would usually take a break around 3 p.m. and we would go play soccer in the backyard.  If I was late, Midnight would come bounding into my office and jump around, informing me it was time to play (bd16).

Quit staring at that stupid screen and get downstairs so we can play ball! You’re working too hard! It’s playtime.

I knew that Midnight and I had bonded, but I was unaware of how powerful this was until the day I realized he was growing old and wouldn’t be around much longer.  Of course, I knew the dog wouldn’t live forever.  I remember one time when we were staring at each other, thinking about how painful it would be to look into his eyes for the last time. (bd17)

However, now realizing this bond was going to break in the near future caused an intensely, dreadful feeling.  This was going to leave a mark.  I certainly never saw this coming. I felt like I had been tricked.  I’d not wanted this dog, but now I’m firmly attached to it. I now see how this will end and it’s going to hurt like hell. (bd18).  I even complained to God about how unfair this was. As if this was more unfair than anything else in life.

I thought Midnight’s physical condition would continue to quickly deteriorate, but it did not.  This was a slow process that took place for almost two years.  His mobility slowed, his hearing declined and he was going blind.  I took some solace in that there would be no painful last look if the dog was unable to see me. (bd19)

There were a few times when he fell ill, that I thought he was finished. I would summon my daughter to return for her final goodbye, but then he would recover.

It amazed me how much this dog squeezed enjoyment out of the last year of his life.  He still liked to go on walks, he still eagerly begged for snacks, he still wanted his head scratched and he still wanted to be near me every morning
when I read the paper.  In a way, he was an inspiration.  I should live so enthusiastically in old age, if I make that far.

He held onto life with all he had.  Sometimes he would get tremors and would walk aimlessly around the house until they stopped. When the tremors came in the evening and he was too tired to walk, I would lay him on my chest – and the tremors would soon cease.  It felt so good comforting him in this way. (bd20)

I want to believe Midnight’s was determined to live on because he didn’t want the bond to break, either.  If your dog loves you more than you love your dog, then the bond between you is stronger for your dog also. (bd21). The dog doesn’t want to leave you – this is extreme devotion.

Living with an aged dog is not pleasant. You end up making many concessions.  At some point the dog causes you more aggravation than happiness.  Some people would have ended it at this point, but I couldn’t do it.  This dog had provided so much joy over his lifetime that I felt I owed him something back in return.  If he was hanging onto life this firmly, then I’ll hang with you, buddy. I’ll hang with you. (bd22)

I had a lot of time to prepare for that final day, although there is nothing you can really do to soften the blow. As if you could prepare for getting run over by a Mack truck.  But I had imagined how that day would play out, and except for one remarkable moment, it went very much as expected.

Midnight was on my lap as I called my wife to explain the dire situation.  She pleaded with me to let her take care of it because she knew how difficult this task would be for me.  But I adamantly refused.  This was my responsibility.  When the dog had a need, he expected me to take care of it and this would be the final one.  Also, my wife could not come home until afternoon, and I had resolved that Midnight would not suffer one minute longer than necessary. (bd23)

I needed to go upstairs to get the number for the veterinarian and I lifted Midnight off me for the next to last time.  However, I wanted to be very gentle with him so I raised him up higher than normal. And then something incredible occurred.  As I held him up, our faces were about a foot apart. Then he widened his right eye as far as it could stretch. I saw his eyeball move as he struggled to focus in on me. With whatever eyesight he had left, he was trying to see me as well as he could. I may not have wanted a last look, but Midnight sure did. (bd24)

And just like 16-½ years ago when we were feeling the same apprehensive at that first look of “hello”, I know we were sharing the same emotions at this last look of “goodbye”.  And it was “goodbye”, as Midnight started to fade out after that.  (bd25) (bd26) (bd27).

That evening, my wife quickly removed all reminders of the dog from the house because she knew this would help me.  But the next morning when I went outside to get the newspaper, I saw his footprints in the snow.  Midnight had made so many impressions on my life and now he got to make just one more.
(bd28)

The bond between Midnight and me was so strong and so rich, however when a tight bond is torn asunder, a piece of you is ripped away.  It leaves a gaping wound that is intensely painful and takes time to heal.  But the worst part of this, which is so cruel, is that the piece of you that is gone is a good piece.  It is kind, and patient and loving, with all the pure traits in you that a dog brings out. Dogs make us better humans, and when they go, we lose something special within ourselves. (bd29) (bd30) (bd31) (bd32)

The Bible introduces to the concept of unconditional love. It is a concept difficult to comprehend in this life.  One of those things best accepted by faith.  But maybe that’s why God created dogs the way He did.  You get to experience unconditional love every day because it is living under your roof. (bd33)

And $450? I complained about spending $450 for this dog?  It’s the best $450 I ever spent in my life.

I never wanted a dog. In the end, I never wanted a dog more.  Rest in peace, Midnight my faithful friend. Rest in peace.





Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Strong Bond Develops - Part Two - A Tribute To Midnight, My Dog


(In Part One, my daughter gets a new puppy, which I try to ignore.  The dog however forces me to interact with him.)

The more I was around this dog, the more I liked the dog and the dog sensed this.  He thus responded in positive ways which continued to win me over.  Dogs have this strong, basic nature to bond with humans. And humans have a strong desire to bond with anything that wishes to bond with them. I had read about this dog-bonding thing and I had witnessed it in other people, but I never understood it.  I mean it’s just a dog, right? – wrong.

Even though I was his fourth favorite person in the household, (remember, I’m the heavy) Midnight had a desire to bond with me, and me being a human, could not resist this. I noticed that the dog studied my routines and behavior.  He was making an effort to understand me, and then modify his behavior in order to please me.  In response, I tried to figure out what made the dog happy and please him back.

This is not unlike the process couples go through when they enter a serious relationship with a potential spouse. They learn all they can about the other person and then modify their behavior to please that person.  This is an integral part of the human mating/bonding process.

The major difference is that dogs never stop this bonding process.  They watch you and try to faithfully please you their entire lives. Couples, on the other hand, typically transition from trying to please each other, to just tolerating their partner at some point in the relationship.  What would be a good term for that moment? What would it be? Oh yeah, that’s right, it already has a name! It’s called marriage.

So this “man’s best friend” thing is more than just a cliché. Same thing with the term “faithful friend”. And when you pair an intelligent dog (Schnauzers rated around the 11th smartest breed) with an intelligent human, something special happens.  Over many years, Midnight and I developed a tremendously strong bond by spending time together and sharing many of the following activities (bd5).

Food

I shared many meals and snacks with Midnight over the years, but not voluntarily.  Schnauzers do not beg, that’s beneath them. They expect you to share your food with them based on your great relationship and get offended if you don’t.  They assume its “our meal” and thus you are required to provide them with something. 

Here’s the deal Jack, we’re a team. I’m protecting your food from any wild animal that may burst through the door and take it. So, throw me a piece of that delicious roast beef, will ya?  


Where are my chips?


And they will aggressively guard that food as I learned when I stuck my hand in a bag of chips that Midnight and my wife were “sharing”.  My quick reaction resulted in me grabbing no chips, but retaining all five fingers.  Midnight also loved popcorn.  One night he tried to push my wife back into the kitchen so she could tend to the popper instead of watching television. (This event made in into “Dog Gone Funny” in the Marmaduke Sunday comic strip).

Affection

We shared affection. I would be seated and Midnight would purposely bump his head into my knee.

Hey, you’re not doing anything. Make yourself useful and scratch my head. C’mon, do you think it’s going to scratch itself?

So, I would scratch his head and he greatly enjoyed this . Often he would nudge his head into my other hand, meaning he wanted me to scratch with both hands.

But Midnight had a strange way of reciprocating. One day I was lying on the floor after wrestling with him. He then started enthusiastically licking my entire shaved head.  I was scared to move, but the scene generated raucous laughter from my wife and daughters. This “head-washing” ritual became standard practice anytime I was on the floor.  I think because Midnight enjoyed me scratching his head, he thought he could return the favor by licking my bald head. I can’t say I really enjoyed it, but I did like the delight it brought to the rest of the family.  Especially when he stuck his tongue in my ear and I would squeal like a little girl.  


Space

And we shared space. Again, the dog expects you concede to his wishes.

You look really comfy in that big ‘ol easy chair. I think I’ll just jump right up on your lap and join you.

He liked sleeping on my lap, but sometimes he would get way too comfortable and refuse to move (and snap) if I tried to get up for any reason.  There were a few times when my wife had to come help me remove the dog in order for my chair to remain dry.

Occasionally he slept in our room at night. He would enthusiastically jump right into the middle of the bed and claim his territory. 

Hey, I’m trying to get comfortable here. I need some more room. So if you could move over to the edge so I could have the entire middle to stretch out in, that would be great.

We mistakenly thought that we could keep him out of the room by closing the door.  But Midnight would not be denied, he would incessantly scratch at the door until we had to open it.

Just wanted to let you know somebody shut door by mistake and I can’t get in. So I’m just going to stay right here and scratch at the door until you realize this and come open it.

And naturally he liked going for walks.

Family Times

We shared being a family (bd6).  Midnight became part of our family and wanted to participate in all activities. He would whimper when we packed for vacation because he could not go along. He liked to play the role of family “protector”. He barked to warn us about the presence of strangers and other animals. He would get agitated if I raised my voice to my daughters (they were teenagers, so higher volumes are often necessary).  One time when my wife and I were having a shouting match from across the room, Midnight strategically positioned himself directly in the middle of us and began barking
loudly and aggressively.

Look I don’t know what all this yelling is about, but you will not use this tone in my house.  So calm it down and start acting like mature adults.

And that ended the argument promptly!

Playtime

The dog and I played a lot. Midnight’s favorite game was playing “soccer” in our large backyard (bd7). (My dad would have been pleased that my dog had room to run).  I would kick the ball and Midnight (bd8) would wildly sprint after it. He loved to play this game in the winter. Jumping into the mounds of snow, even in frigid temperatures.  Often, he would grab the ball in his mouth and expect me to chase him to get it back.  So I would chase him around the yard, looking like a fool, because it made him happy and his happiness was important to me (bd9).

Over many years, through all this sharing, through all this time spent together, an incredibly strong bond formed between Midnight and I.  My disdain for this dog over time had turned into love. (bd10)

A Favorite Story

And this dog also thought a lot of me. Midnight would always run to the back door, jump wildly, and bark when he wanted go outside to play soccer. But one day it was pouring down rain.  He went to the door, saw the rain, and realized we couldn’t go out and play right now.  He then walked over to me and looked up.  He went back to the door, stared at the rain, and then looked back at me.

I found this amusing and said out loud, “What do you want me to do? Stop the rain?”

And then I realized, Ohhhhhh -- that’s exactly what he expected me to do. (bd11). He was accustomed to me helping him out when he had a problem.  Because of our bond, he expected me to accommodate him.  When my children were small, they thought their father could do some mighty things, but they never thought I was so magnificent that I could stop the rain.  But my dog did! And that made me feel very special. (bd12)

Next: Part Three – One Last Look