Dan Fleser: For The Sake Of The Kids

Sunday, July 3, 2022 - by Dan Fleser
Dan Fleser
Dan Fleser

For the July 4th weekend, I sacrificed some of my independence for the sake of the “kids.”


The reference is one of many I have for two dogs – Daisy and Cooper. They belong to my next-door neighbors. Amy and Jason are their parents. For more than a decade, I’ve played the part of “Uncle Dan.” Being essentially their only relative has never gotten in the way of thinking I was their favorite uncle and they’ve fed my fantasy with their affection. 


With Mom and Dad away for the long weekend, their uncle has moved in to babysit and moved up the supervision depth chart into the lead role.

I’ve done the duty before with the cats, but never with the dogs. The cats have since passed away and the dogs are too old now to be sent to a kennel.


Daisy, a pit bull terrier mix, always has been the more talkative of the two. The usual routine was me slipping in the side door for a visit while she and Cooper were outside in the backyard. Daisy never was fooled by my stealth. It was like she had radar. After I got settled, Momma would let them in and they’d tear through the kitchen like cavalry. Daisy always led the charge, barking all the way, continuing even after she’d screeched to a halt before me.


Every time, it was like the first time she’d ever seen me, which obviously wasn’t the case. Jason and I, at some point, assumed she was talking to me. Being a journalist, I took the assumption a step further and figured she was catching me up on any news I’d missed (Cooper’s been eating cat poop again!). Whatever the case, the routine never got old for her and I never tired of her overwrought greeting. Take the love however it comes, even if it hits you like a gust of wind.


Cooper couldn’t compete with Daisy’s outsized welcome and didn’t try. But the wily beagle picked his spots otherwise. One of his signature moves was gathering himself and springing from the floor into my lap. I usually saw him coming but there was one time when I didn’t. Startled, I flinched, sending poor Cooper cartwheeling into the potted plant next to the chair in which I was sitting. I gasped in horror, “What have I done?” As for Cooper? He didn’t so much as yelp. He walked away from the crash landing unscathed and undeterred. Fortunately, that chair has been replaced by an end table and the potted plant has been moved. The crime scene has been wiped clean.


While I knew the dogs were getting old, the pandemic has diminished my visits and lessened my appreciation for the passage of time. I’ve been playing catch-up this weekend.


Daisy doesn’t sprint anymore. The spirit is willing but her hips don’t work as well. She can’t sustain her barking either. The tone is more muted and gravely. She’s still talking but doesn’t have as much to say.


Cooper isn’t the leaper he once was. He seems challenged enough by more earthbound feats. Unless driven by his bladder, he measures the two steps between the kitchen and the backdoor as if they’ve become an alpine ascent.


These days, their daily routine involves eating (and watching me eat), doing their business and sleeping . . . a lot of sleeping. They’re snoring away in their doggie beds as I type this tribute. Occasionally, one of them will flinch and their paws will twitch. I imagine them being young again in their dreams, full-throated and high-flying.


Either way, for Uncle Dan, they’ll always be the adorable kids.

----

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at ddanfleser3@gmail.com.


Whitfield County June Employee Of The Month Helped Make Rocky Face Ridge Park A Reality

Life With Ferris: Lessons From Lucy

Chattanooga Special Event Road Closures


Visitors to Whitfield County’s new Rocky Face Ridge Park that officially opened July 25 may not know it, but the facility located off Crow Valley Road is there thanks in part to several years ... (click for more)

You may know Lucy Bell Graze. Chances are you’ve seen her running a party with Vivian and Reggie, running a family (Robinsons, Stouts, Fergusons, Webbs, Voges, McGinnesses) or just running full ... (click for more)

Upcoming special event road closures: Chattanooga Football Club Home Match The following roads will be closed on Wednesday from 4 p.m. until midnight: Reggie White Blvd between the Chattanooga ... (click for more)



Happenings

Whitfield County June Employee Of The Month Helped Make Rocky Face Ridge Park A Reality

Visitors to Whitfield County’s new Rocky Face Ridge Park that officially opened July 25 may not know it, but the facility located off Crow Valley Road is there thanks in part to several years of behind-the-scenes help from veteran county employee Jess Hansen. “Jess has worked tirelessly since at least 2016 on the conceptual development and design of Rocky Face Ridge Park,” ... (click for more)

Life With Ferris: Lessons From Lucy

You may know Lucy Bell Graze. Chances are you’ve seen her running a party with Vivian and Reggie, running a family (Robinsons, Stouts, Fergusons, Webbs, Voges, McGinnesses) or just running full steam ahead in general. She does not believe in slowing down. She planned to retire last April. “I’m not working after I turn 90,” she told me a couple of years ago. I told her she’d just ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Heavy Rain Closes Many Chattanooga Streets

Heavy rain through the Chattanooga area on Wednesday caused a number of flooding problems. City officials said at 1 p.m.: Confirmed Fully Closed Roads Due To Flooding: Lerch Street at Belvoir Ave 2602 E 45th Street 300 Haney Drive Brainerd Road between N Seminole and Woodlawn Drive 2001 Polk Street 700 E Main Street 1700 Long Street 600 ... (click for more)

City Council Gives Final Approval For Stadium Deal; Council Adds Provisions For "Transparency" On $80 Million Project

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $80 million Southside Stadium project. The action puts in motion the ability for a new city/county Sports Authority to convene and issue $80 million in bonds for the "community" facility on nine acres at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site. Councilman Chip Henderson added several provisions that he said would add "transparency" ... (click for more)

Opinion

Rest In Peace, Larry Wallace

Athens and Tennessee lost a great friend and a long-time public servant when Larry Wallace passed away Saturday afternoon. The 1962 McMinn County High School graduate started his lifetime law enforcement career with the Athens Police Department in 1964. He joined the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1967 and was appointed as a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Alabama Picked No. 1 In Coaches’ Poll

When Alabama football coach Nick Saban described last year’s season as a “rebuilding effort,” it triggered a lot of good-natured laughter throughout college sports. After all, the Crimson Tide just won 13 games and the SEC championship game before losing the national title game to Georgia. As if to underscore such greatness, this year’s Alabama team has just been chosen by the AFCA ... (click for more)