Here at our house on Fairhope Drive, Stuart, my therapy dog, Guessie the cat, the three chicken girls and myself have been operating under “camp conditions.” Stuart and I understand how these conditions affect our lives. I don’t think that Guessie notices any difference as he thinks he is in charge, and he doesn’t care who provides meals as long as they are served at the right time.
Alberta, Betty and Jacky, the beautiful chickens, seem to be a hot mess. They understand that Lyn and I have specific duties in regard to their well-being. My basic responsibility is the delivery of special treats every morning. Lyn offers much more of her time and attention to them. She takes good care of the girls’ nesting area and often lets them out in our backyard so they can roam and play under her watchful eyes.
The girls have learned to follow Lyn’s instructions, and when it’s time to return to their fenced-in area, they do so quickly. I’m not privileged to have them pay that kind of attention to my instructions, so I don’t release them as often as Lyn does. Each time I step out our backdoor they loudly complain about their lack of freedom.
A few weeks ago Stuart and I were getting ready for our normal Tuesday nursing home visitation. Well ... I was getting ready. Stuart was sitting on his favorite couch. As I stepped toward him he snapped his head toward the television, but he doesn’t ever pay any attention to it.
I passed the doorway again to see Stuart looking in my direction. I stepped toward him and was surprised when he again turned away from me and toward the television. This time I looked at the TV to see what was getting his attention. I was fairly sure that “The Today Show” was on. A video that had been produced by an animal shelter in Santa Fe, N.M., was on.
The video was airing in celebration of Valentine’s Day, and it was a parity on the reality show “The Bachelor.” Instead of the show being about dating, it was about pet adoption. The “bachelor” was a handsome dog and was being courted by a couple of attractive human gals. The ladies were talking to him and trying to get his undivided attention.
The dog in the video was named Stewart!
My Stuart had been sitting on his couch patiently waiting for me to get ready and was hearing female voices on our television saying things like, “Oh Stewart, you are so handsome.” It was obvious why he had been turning toward the sound of their voices.
We finished watching the video and then headed out to do some nursing home visiting. When we returned home I got on our computer and typed the words “animal shelter, parody, bachelor, dog bachelor and found the video.
As I was viewing it, Stuart once again started looking toward the sound of the voices calling his name.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.