The arrivals of Bobby and Simon changed the balance of power in our household. Before this Wilbur had not had any real problems with any of the dogs. Dylan, and Toby had become buddies with the young pig, and Bruno, and Princess were mostly aloof about him. Wilbur was now faced with his first two real antagonists; Simon, and Bobby were definitely not fans of Wilbur. Bobby never really did much to hurt Wilbur, but he would bark and snap at him anytime Wilbur wanted to approach me. Simon however could be vicious with poor Wilbur, attacking him and biting at him until Wilbur’s ears would be bleeding and sore.
I handled each dog in a different manner. Bobby was just trying to be protective of me, and was not nasty in nature. When Wilbur would approach me to get his ears, or his tummy rubbed; and Bobby barked and snapped at him; I would tell Bobby that it is Wilbur’s turn to get love, and that I would pet him some more later on. Bobby was a very mindful dog, and I seldom had any problems with him, and if I did, I just put him in the house until Wilbur was ready for bed.
Simon was a totally different story. Simon was a man-child of a dog, large in stature, but short on smarts and emotional development. Every time he saw Wilbur on the back patio he wanted to start something with him. It was very annoying to both Wilbur and me. Because Simon was just an overgrown puppy, I didn’t want to get too heavy handed with him, but I had to find a way to get him to listen to me, and to back off on Wilbur. I instituted the “two fingers” policy with Simon. Every time Simon got too rambunctious, or mean with Wilbur I would give Simon a slap across the bridge of his nose with my first two fingers. This was not enough to hurt him, but certainly enough to get his attention and let him know I was displeased. It did not take long before the sight of me holding up two fingers and saying “Simon, leave Wilbur alone or you’ll get two fingers!” would make Simon leave Wilbur alone, and run away. Even today, two years later, whenever Simon is bad, all I have to do is hold up two fingers as if I were making the Cub Scout sign, and Simon will head inside the house. Never underestimate the power of two fingers.
Being from up north, Rhea and I are intrinsically different from other Floridians; we like being outdoors, and we love the sun. Most Floridians avoid the sun as if it were the plague, and spend their entire existence indoors in air conditioned comfort. As a result the average person living in Florida is as pale as a sheet; the only tanned people here are the tourists, the construction workers, landscapers, and us northern transplants.
In May of that year Rhea decided that she needed some color so we went to a local Big Lots store and bought a 12’ pool on sale. This pool was nothing more than a big kiddies’ pool with a big blow up ring on the top that would make the pool rise as you filled it up with water. It was just big enough for three or four adults, and an inflatable mattress. Rhea would float on her mattress like the Queen of Sheba soaking up the sun, while Jeff and I would hang off the inflatable ring drinking beer and smoking (cigars for me, and cigarettes for Jeff). We spent many enjoyable afternoons lounging around in that pool.
There was one problem though; we could never keep water in the pool. Every day I would have to replace 20-25 gallons of water that would mysteriously disappear each night. Now, water does not come cheaply here in Homestead, so I tried to find out what the problem was. Jeff, and I checked, and re-checked the pool many times for leaks, but we could not find any. I knew that the hot sun down here would make the water evaporate some, but certainly not enough to account for the loss we were experiencing. It was, to say the least very baffling.
One Friday night I was out on the patio after dark watching my sports shows on TIVO, when I heard the sound of rushing water. I could not figure out what was going on or where it came from. I rushed inside and grabbed a big lantern flash light to see what was going on. I shined the light around the back yard, and found out the answer to our mystery. There was Wilbur, up on the pool pushing down the inflatable ring with his front hooves; having a drink of water and cooling off his undersides with the water flowing out of the pool! “Wilbur, What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” I shouted. A very surprised and startled Wilbur hopped off the pool and shimmied away into the dark. I should have known. Of course a large pan of fresh water would not be good enough for Wilbur, not when there was 600 gallons of cool fresh water there for the taking.
I am sure that Wilbur, being the envious pig that he is, was watching all of us have fun in the pool cooling off, then, bided his time to have his fun later when we were not around. I am sure he was miffed at us for not getting him his own pool like we did a couple of years before.
I guess I don’t blame him, but Wilbur was much too big now for a pool like his old kiddies’ pool. We remedied that problem by hosing him down daily with our back yard hose, which he loved immensely. Oh well, live, and learn.