Talking with my sister, Jane, reminded both of us what tremendous skill and love our father had for dogs
Ralph (Robbie) Robinson was a shrewd entrepreneur. At one point in time, he leased lady shoe departments from the Sweet briar and Dillard Department Store chains in Cheyenne, Casper, and Laramie Wyoming; Logan, Utah; Greeley, Colorado and Rapid City, South Dakota. He also opened a children’s department in the Cheyenne stored called Robbie ‘ s Zoo, complete with a stuffed animal zoo and six foot tall, electric, nodding giraffe under the stairs.
The majority of his career he managed the Cheyenne stores and he had two male managers in Casper and Rapid City who stayed with him his entire 30 odd years in the business. He always said the managers made the business. He closed the other stores in Utah, Laramie and Greeley finding it difficult to keep his small shoe empire profitable without key managers in place.
With the three locations, he provided us with an upper middle class life style. We belonged to the country club, owned a quarter horse, had lessons in a variety of sports, traveled a little, had cars in high school and went to a private college. My sister and I were both in college at the same time so the private school was not a small bill to pay. When I was young, I didn’t think much about money or life style. We owned a store and when extra hands were needed, for example Christmas and back-to-school we worked at the store. In retrospect, I can see that maintaining our life style through economic ups and downs was no small feat.
This blog, however, is not about dad as a business man but dad’s life as a dog trainer. Knowing his business skills and take no prisoner competitive spirit in cards and golf, it is surprising that he was an expert at training dogs.
The first dog I can remember was Hokey-Dokey, a red-gold cocker spaniel. I remember Hokey as big. Since I was 2 or 3 at the time, it occurred to me writing this blog that Hokey was probably cocker size and I was dimiutive, eye-level with the dog. Dad trained Hokey to jump through a hoop, dance on his hind legs, and sit up. Dad and Hokey would dress up in costumes. Hokey wore a tutu, and dad wore a bow tie. They would go to events to perform. I was always delighted to be included in the audience for the performance. I was in second grade when Hokey died.
Barney, the beagle, was dad’s one failure. The dog was adorable except for his baying voice and the fact that he ran away all the time, even though we had a brick fence. He would run up to my grandmother’s house three blocks away. When the animal control officer would come to her door because of a complaint, Barney woukd stick his head around grandmother’s leg and bark. Dad finally gave Barney to one of his employees.
Along the way, we had two more black cockers, one after the other. Dutchess and Princess. Dutchess was particularly adept at jumping from the ground to the saddle so she could ride on my quarter horse with me.
Probably the best example of dad’s dog training skill was Bumper, an extremely large, absolutely gorgeous, purebred Black and white English springer spaniel. Bumper was the last of dad’s dogs. My family home was dogless when I moved back to Cheyenne for a job after graduate school.
I saw an animal shelter advertisement with Bumper ‘ s picture. Bumper was about six months old and had been relinquished because she was afraid of guns. My family didn’t hunt so this wasn’t a problem. I asked mom and dad if they would like the dog. I wasn’t living with them so it wouldn’t be my dog. When they said yes, I went and got them Bumper.
I am not sure it was love at first sight. Bumper had acquired some annoying habits before joining the family such as jumping up on people. She was large when I got her but she grew to be as large as a small golden retriever, way over-sized for an English springer spaniel. But Bumper certainly had her day when our family found her.
My dad trained her to walk from home to the store every day with him. She and he stopped at the post office each morning where she became well known. She stayed under his desk by his feet but would come out and greet children in the store when the sales clerks asked the kids if they would to pet a dog. Always polite when meeting children, she would sit quietly soaking in the attenton, jumping vanquished to another life time. But her greatest skill and one of my dad’s greatest joys was he trained her to carry the bank bag of deposits to the bank and stand up at the teller’s desk to deliver the cash. All the tellers’ had treats for her. She had her choice of lines. Dad and Bumper were featured in the bank’s print advertising as an example of the bank’s home-town, customer friendly service. Bumper and dad became known all over Cheyenne. They would be greeted as a team where-ever they went.
My dad retired when the Sweet briar stores went bankrupt. He was doing fine in his leased departments but had no base of operation. Fortunately, his business acumen held. He was able to support he and mom for many years on his investments. Bumper lived the life of leisure during this retirement period; going for rides, swimming for sticks in the country club lake, an activity she never tired of.
When my mom died, my dad remarried within six months to a woman who didn’t want Bumper. Dad asked me to take her. I declined because my job required a lot of travel. I had a sheltie, Ginger Rogers, who went with me everywhere. I couldn’t see taking two dogs all over Wyoming for work. With the perspective of age, I can see I could have been more flexible.At the time, I thought Dad’s new wife should have been more flexible. Family dynamics after a death with a quick remarriage are complex. Finally, Dad found a friend who was down on his luck and needed a place to live. Dad let the man stay in our family home rent free as long as he took care of the house and Bumper. Dad and I both regularly visited Bumper who seemed fine with this arrangement but I think missed her owner, my father. Bumper died two years after my mom. At that point, my dad emptied our family home (the family was now all living elsewhere) and sold it.
What did I learn from my dad about dogs. First,patience yields great rewards. Dogs love to meet their owners expectations and in turn a well-trained dog can bring joy to a family and in Bumper ‘ s case an entire community. Second, dogs are pets not children. We gave Barney away when he was disrupting our family’s life style. Dad married his new love even though she didn’t share his passion for dogs. After dad died, she got two cats whom she was fanatical about. Third,there are solutions to complex family dynamics. Bumper had a forever home because she was a great dog with a huge heart.
Number 10: Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump. I would support almost any reasonable candidate over Mr. Trump who continues to be a bully, racist and misogynistic. The concept of Mr. Trump as leader of the free world is terrifying. His campaign rhetoric has shown him to be a thin-skinned, unstable narcissist and a pathological liar. Since winning the primary rather than demonstrating he can be Presidential, Mr. Trump has shown a total disrespect for the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers and continued on his path of “my way or the highway”. I deeply respect the Republicans who have refused to endorse him and publicly rebuked his commendation of Judge Curiel, the Mexican-American federal judge overseeing the Trump University law suit.
Most frightening to me is Mr. Trump’s strong support across a variety of income and educational groups in the Republican Party. The Economist in April reviewed Trump’s support and found that he has appeal to Republican voters across all income and education levels.
I have heard supporters of Mr. Sanders say they will boycott the election or write in Mr. Sanders’ name. I would argue this is a dangerous strategy. Given the sluggish economy and the fact that a Democrat has been President for two terms, past voting trends favor a Republican being elected. Mr. Sanders’ remarkable campaign and many victories have demonstrated that the future of the Democratic Party lies in a progressive agenda. We know, however, from Al Gore’s failed presidential run in 2000 that it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the election through the Electoral College. In my mind, Mr. Trump as President is too worrisome to waste a vote.
Number 9: Mrs. Clinton is a Feminine Warrior. I read recently that Hillary practices the yoga warrior pose when she is tired and needs to re-energize for an upcoming event. I was taken by the image of a strong woman rising to battle time and time again.
After more than forty years in politics and advocacy, Americans certainly know all her professional and personal baggage. We quite literally know her dirty laundry. Anyone who was an adult in the late nineties links the names Monica Lewinsky, President Bill Clinton and impeachment proceedings. Former President Clinton’s bimbo eruptions are a tawdry stain on his policy accomplishments as President. More unfathomable to me than President Clinton’s behavior, a known womanizer is Hillary’s ability to get through that dark period still married to the man and to have emerged with an amicable marriage intact.
On the professional front, Hillary has been beaten many times but she never accepts defeat. In 1993, Mrs. Clinton received a bludgeoning for her leadership on a proposed national health plan, a precursor to the arduous battle we are still fighting to provide health care to all. After a grueling primary campaign in 2008, she politely endorsed then Candidate Obama and later agreed to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. Time and time again over her political career, Mrs. Clinton has been pushed down and like a phoenix she has recreated herself and risen again, a proud, regal female warrior ready to do battle for what she believes in.
Number 8: Mrs. Clinton is fallible (and that makes her more human). As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton took responsibility for not providing enough security in the Benghazi Attacks (September, 2012) that led to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a friend of Clinton’s. Eleven hours of Congressional hearings on the subject never directly implicated Clinton but given her position of Secretary of State the responsibility for her staff did and should fall on her shoulders.
The Benghazi Hearings subsequently led to the investigations into Mrs. Clinton private server hosting her email account while Secretary of State. Apparently, this was common practice by other high ranking officials in other administrations. For example, Colin Powell used a similar approach to email when he served as Secretary of State. With the gift of hindsight and the Snowden (2013) leaks and numerous mass hacking of corporate accounts such as Target, the naiveté of keeping a personal server for government business seems absurd. But for those of us carrying Blackberry phones for business during this period, these choices don’t seem Machiavelli.
As recently as June 9th, 2016, the email debacle was still being raised as an election issue in Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. Possessing the warrior spirit, Hillary politely told a reporter she would not be indicted and the email problem would not interfere with her presidential bid. She rose to the question with grace and aplomb.
To vote for Mrs. Clinton, I do not have to agree with all of her decisions or actions. I would never assume this level of support for a male candidate. I find it maddening when talking to potential voters who do not support Hillary because she is “untrustworthy”. Would they say the same about Colin Powel (a man I greatly admire) who testified that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S. went to war? After all, we didn’t find any weapons but that was the opinion of experts at the time.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has managed to stick the moniker of “lying Hillary” on Mrs. Clinton with some ease. Yet we see Mr. Trump revising his version of the facts and his comments at almost every turn. Only recently has the media begun rapidly and accurately checking his statements. Many of which have proven to be false.
Number 7: Mrs. Clinton is a policy nerd and incrementalist. When campaigning against Mrs. Clinton, Bernie Sanders cited Hillary’s incremental approach to most policy issues as a fault. As a student of public administration, I can tell you that we are a nation of incrementalists. With few exceptions, Americans tend to respond the best and most creatively when in crisis or at war. For example, the transcontinental railroad had been stymied due to bickering in Congress on whether to follow a southern or northern route. The railroad only became possible with the succession of the southern states from the Union allowing Lincoln to authorize a northern passage. Once a decision was made, we were able to overcome all engineering stumbling blocks and become a nation united.
A less successful example of American incrementalism is health care. As a country, we implemented Social Security in response to the Great Depression. But even popular four-term President Franklin Roosevelt was unable to get universal health coverage because of opposition from Republicans, conservative Democrats and organized medicine. President Truman was the first president to strongly advocate for universal health care and his proposal was stalled in Congress. President Lyndon Johnson was successful at getting Medicare approved in 1965 (thirty years after the first discussions began).
Since then, Congress has been slowly expanding Medicare benefits including covering qualifying disabled individuals, improving quality of nursing home care, adding hospice care, drug benefits (with a donut hole) and encouraging preventive care and providing the option to purchase private insurance.
The problems of Obamacare are a direct outgrowth of our nation’s inability to implement the “Grand Idea”. Harris polling indicates that a large majority of Americans believe every American should have access to health care. Unfortunately, we are unable to agree on the details. The same poll found that 87 percent of Democrats and only 33 percent of Republicans favor a universal health care system (Harris Poll, September 8 2015).
While Americans may want to hear grand ideas in presidential debates and speeches when it comes to moving a policy agenda forward Americans proceed at a snail’s pace (thirty years to get to Medicare and almost fifty years of refinements have not resulted in full coverage for Americans). The fact that Mrs. Clinton is an incrementalist is not an indictment of her politics but rather a high compliment to her clear understanding of the difficulties of implementing policies in a large diverse nation with many viewpoints and a fractious, politically divided, stonewalling Congress.
Number 6: Mrs. Clinton is inclusive. My family is inter-racial. I have an adopted daughter from China. My sister has an adopted daughter of Mexican and Native American descent. My sister’s daughter was married for a period to an undocumented Mexican man. Together they had 3 darling Hispanic children, ages 7, 8, and 9.
These children are American citizens. While my niece is now divorced, the ex still has joint custody of the children. In summary, we have a very complicated multi -cultural extended family. But we represent the future of America. We are a diverse nation and becoming more so by every day. It is our very diversity which has traditionally made us a strong country. Mrs. Clinton attracts large numbers of black and Hispanic voters because these groups see opportunities for economic and social equality consistently pushed by Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is interested in developing road blocks to forward mobility of all while creating a divisive culture. Other countries have discovered to their peril that exclusionary policies lead to social unrest and ethnic violence. We are already beginning to see this response by Hispanics at anti-Trump rallies.
Number 5: Mrs. Clinton recognizes that women’s issues are family issues. The demographics of American families have been shifting for many years. The Pew Research Center (Census data 2013) has found that four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a single mother who is either the sole or primary of these breadwinners. The median family income for single mothers — who are more likely to be younger, black or Hispanic, and less educated — is $23,000. The transformation of black families clearly highlights the changing dynamics of American families. In 1950, 18% of black families were headed by a single woman today that number is 68% of families. This is the reality of American children, especially low income children. They are growing up in families headed by their mother with an income at or below poverty level. Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a family of three in 2016 is $20,160.
Mrs. Clinton throughout her forty year political career has advocated for expanded, high quality day care, expansion of pre-k education, educational opportunities for women and equal pay for women. The issues on the surface appear to be “women’s issues” but with the transformation of the American family these issues are fundamental to providing a strong beginning for most of America’s children, particularly America’s low income and ethnically diverse children.
Number 4: Mrs. Clinton wants to build bridges not walls. There are two primary philosophies about how to approach U.S. foreign policy. The first is protectionism and isolationism. The second is that our community is the world and we must be strategically engaged globally. The isolationist/protectionist approach worked well for America when we were a young nation, expanding across a vast continent. But Pearl Harbor and our entry into World War II was a wake-up call that United States could not depend on the boundaries provided by the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans for its primary protection. Our safety as a nation required that we develop strategic alliances globally. The arrival of the internet has brought further globalization. The destruction caused by 9-11 was a devastating way for Americans to learn that we sometimes harbor enemies on our own soil. We know from Orlando this week, that we continue to harbor home-grown enemies within our borders.
The choice this election is unequivocal. Mr. Trump has emphasized repeatedly his protection/isolationist approach to foreign policy. He has been clear about building a wall to keep undocumented Mexicans out of the U.S. He has suggested that entire ethnic groups such as Muslims are not welcome in our country. I believe both proposals, a wall and mass screenings, will be extremely expensive and cumbersome to implement. Assuming these polices were implemented, I’m not sure that our country will be any safer. I am sure both proposals will create further enemies both within and outside of our country. I personally do not believe that isolationism/protectionist approach is the way to keep America safe. Developing strong allies across borders and creating a global community with shared goals united against terrorism both within and outside our borders seems like a better approach to me.
Mrs. Clinton has consistently demonstrated her willingness to reach out to other nations and cultures. When Mrs. Clinton served as 67th Secretary of State, she became one of the most traveled Secretaries of State in American history. She visited 112 countries during her four-year tenure, and logged enough miles to span the globe more than 38 times.
Number 3: Mrs. Clinton has vast experience at the state and federal levels and executive and legislative branches of government. President Obama in his video endorsement of Mrs. Clinton for President said “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” (June 8, 2016). Need I say more?
Number 2: Mrs. Clinton is a well-respected international icon. Hillary is well known throughout the world for her roles as politician, diplomat, and as an international champion for opportunities for women and girls. Her list of awards throughout her forty year career fills pages including many honorary degrees awarded worldwide. The awards vary from having a tulip created in her honor in by The Netherlands (1994) to receiving the Mother Teresa Award, the highest civilian honor given by Albania (1999) to the Chatham House Prize, Royal Institute of Internal Affairs, London (2013) for “driving a new era of diplomatic engagement and for her particular focus on promoting education and rights for women and girls.” Of particular interest to me was that Mrs. Clinton topped the list in Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll in 2015. This win was her fourteenth in a row and twentieth overall. She has held the top spot in the poll longer than other woman or man in Gallup’s history of asking the question.
Number 1: Did I mention, Mrs. Clinton just happens to be a woman.
My twenty-two year old son is home from college for the summer. He has one more semester left before he graduates and is interning at Simplot in Strategic Optimization this summer. The atmosphere in our house changes when he is home. The top 10 changes are:
Number 10: The day of arrival the front door and entry hall, approximately 12 feet square, are blocked by a 36 inch smart TV, 30 boxes of size 14 shoes (my son collects Nikes and resells them online) and numerous boxes of assorted sizes filled with who knows what.
Number 9: The second day of arrival the smart TV, playing rap music, can be heard in the entry hall through the door of my son’s second-floor room. The entry hall otherwise remains jammed with college gear. The closed bedroom door is marked Scott Kozisek, Please Knock.
Number 8: By the end of the first week home, the entry way is empty except for a large backpack propped against the wall and camel pack, laying on the steps, both will probably remain there all summer. My son’s possessions are now leaching out of his bedroom filling up the 12 by 12 landing at the top of the stairs and hindering access to the playroom.
Number 7: Household dynamics are slightly off kilter, like falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. My son is a vegetarian, a dozen eggs last three days instead of a week. Grocery shopping is expanded to include tofu, dozens of eggs, chocolate milk,whey protein. Our three car garage is challenged to provide parking for our fleet of four cars, juggling cars and keys is now the norm. Beautiful sound systems up and down stairs play competing music with jazz, James Taylor, and Carole King dominating downstairs and hip/hop, rap, and electric dance music echoing through the upstairs.
Number 6: I hear the front door opening and closing at 2:30 or 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Or I don’t hear anything and get a text in the morning about crashing at friends. I have to continually remind myself that my son is an adult and can make his own choices. My tongue aches as I bite it to keep from saying something that I may regret or may damage our relationship.
Number 5: The dogs, Shani and Violet, whine and beg to get out of my office where I am watching TV or working on the computer whenever their hero, my son, comes in the back door. This adoration for the lost boy is somewhat annoying since I continue to do all the feeding of the pets.
Number 4: I hear shouting at 11 p.m. between my daughter’s and my son’s bedrooms about a large bug that must be removed from my daughter’s ceiling fan. My son’s removal efforts result in random dust explosion and the bug being knocked off the fan onto my daughter’s bed. More shouting erupts when the bug in a remarkable rebound returns to the fan. Using my daughter’s belt, the bug is exterminated by my son. Because my daughter is unwilling to touch such an ugly thing, my son must extricate the insect from the down comforter. Placing the bug in the trash will not do. It must be flushed down the toilet to ensure the room has been de-bugged. I hear the vacuum turn on. I go upstairs to investigate. My daughter is vacuuming her bed, guaranteeing no other bugs have lived through the dust bowl event and removing the remaining dust mites from her quilt. Interactions of this nature will ensue throughout the summer, when previously the upper floor was silent.
Number 3: The amount and quality of conversation at the dinner table has increased geometrically with the addition of a third adult. We have moved from discussing high school and the weekly schedule ( who is going to be where and when) to discussing politics (no one in our family likes Trump though there is division on which Democrat to support), upcoming music and events in Boise, hit summer movies (who has seen what and who wants to go to what) and weekly schedule (who is going to be where and when). We managed to coordinate well enough at dinner to allow us all to see Captain America Civil War together the first week it was out. A good movie for families with kids 13 and up. We have also managed to schedule our Father’s Day Celebration for Wednesday, June 15th attending Alive After Five. That was the closest date, we could find when we were all in town. Kayla has a particularly busy summer traveling to camps and mission work all over the country.
Number 2: I have someone to watch streaming of Dare Devil , Season 3 on Netflix late at night. We are moving on to Jessica Jones. My son is watching the third season of Peaky Blinders, his favorite show. I watched my first episode this week. Peaky Blinders received a rave review in the Wall Street Journal as a fabulous period piece. Focused on Irish gangs in London after WWI, the episode I watched was bloody but haunting. My daughter by comparison and I watch Bones, America’s Got Talent, Kids’ Baking Championship and Chopped.
Number 1: I get regular hugs for making coffee in the morning and for packing lunches to send out the door to work.