A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.

― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a family that welcomed animals.  I don’t remember a time during my childhood where there were fewer than two four-legged companions in the house. In addition to dogs and cats there was a series of gerbils, hamsters, assorted fish, Spring Peepers (really tiny frogs) and an ill-advised adventure with a rabbit named Cinnamon.

Twenty something years ago, I made the cross-country trek from Massachusetts to Colorado. I was accompanied by my two cats, Grace (Kelly) & Greta (Garbo), who let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they were less than pleased with the confines of my tiny gray Toyota Tercel for the journey west. Grace and Greta were the first animal companions I shared my world with as an independent adult. They have since moved on to the big catnip patch in the sky but they saw me through two marriages, two divorces and the birth of my amazing daughter.

Currently, I am the fortunate guardian of two 75 pound yellow labs, Zora & Simon. Zora joined my family as a puppy and for the past ten years she has been my constant gentle companion. Zora is one of those couch potato labs that will certainly accompany you anywhere but is perfectly content to lounge whenever you get where you are going.   When Zora first came home, I looked at my then 7-year-old daughter and explained, “dogs don’t go on the furniture or sleep on our beds.” Zora has spent the past 10 years sleeping next to my head. (This could have something to do with my having been largely single for the past decade but that’s a topic for another post.)

Five and half years ago, I rescued Simon through Safe Harbor Lab Rescue because my “friends” didn’t talk me out of it. Simon came in to my life like a freight train. Where Zora is sweet and chill, Simon is as high octane a lab as there is – all happy energy and in your face! When Simon came to live with us, I was told that he was around 18-24 months and that he knew all of his basic commands, was great in the car and just needed a little leash work. Let’s just say that Simon’s foster family highly underestimated his age (closer to 10 months) and highly overestimated his skill set. “Sit” was seen as optional, he was a whirling dervish in the car and, truth be told, he sucked on leash. Simon is my Marley.

Since Simon’s arrival, I have invested hundreds of hours and no small portion of my savings into his training, which at times seems more like puppy rehab. This fun-loving, energetic and silly dog is teaching me more about myself than years of therapy ever could.

I believe that humans are drawn to the dog breeds that best represent the qualities we would like to see in ourselves. Simon is fully present in every moment. He relishes every bite of his food with delight and with no trace of guilt. He is happy all the time and everyone is a potential friend. Ever the eternal optimist, Simon greets each morning by thumping his tail joyfully on the bed. (Yes…he sleeps on the bed too – again discussing the impact of this on my social life is best saved for another time) It’s his way of letting me know that the adventure, which is sure to be delightful, is about to begin all over again. All regrets, transgressions, and bad emotions from the previous day are forgiven and forgotten.

I aspire to be more like Simon each day.

Simon Says

Please join the conversation. Tell us about the animals with whom you share your life.

By |2015-07-26T09:01:33+00:00September 1st, 2014|Dog Humor, Dogs, The Sarcastic Dogs, Uncategorized|38 Comments

About the Author:

Alison Reder


  1. Nichole May 27, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

    I don’t think I realized you were a fellow native Masshole!!! 🙂 I laughed out loud, literally, while reading this! 🙂
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    • SimonDawg May 27, 2016 at 10:20 am - Reply

      I am indeed a native Masshole and proud of it! 😉 I’m so glad you liked the posts and that it made you laugh out loud – that makes me really happy! 🙂

  2. Sherri May 27, 2016 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Um… Masshole? Anyway, I too grew up with animals despite my parent’s view, not because if it. I had the same cat from the time I was 5 until I was 22. I think is tragic if kids don’t grow up with animals because the are missing out on essential development. As a first blog post, I think you can take some of this and turn it into an ‘about’ page or a static page as a form of intro to the overall blog. Just a thought.

    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm - Reply

      Ha! A “Masshole” is someone from Massachusetts. Of course, we’re the only ones who can call ourselves that 😉 I completely agree that kids should grow up with pets. Thanks for the suggestion on using this post as part of my about page. 🙂

  3. Rachel May 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Love those cat names! I must confess that our dog also sleeps in our bed. I told my husband that our next dog won’t. But that’s just talk. I’m sure it will. 🙂
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    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      Ha! Famous last words. Let me know how that whole “no dogs in the bed” thing goes for you 😉

  4. M. K. Clinton May 27, 2016 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I love the names Grace and Greta for your cats. I think Greta would be a terrific Basset Hound name. I’m sure that you are happy none of your friends talked you out of Simon! LOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Putting Petnostics to the TestMy Profile

    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      The best part is that when my daughter was born, I gave her “Grace” as a middle name after the cat! Simon is most definitely my boy. You so right – I can’t imagine my world without him 🙂

  5. Jana Rade May 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I think all dogs are fully present in the moment. I’d like that too; without the burden of the past and worry about the future. Living in the moment is awesome, except when the moment sucks. When you’re hurt or sick, it comes in handy to understand that things will get better again.
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    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      I really do wish I could be more like my dogs when it comes to letting go of the past and embracing the potential of every moment without anticipating the future. You are so right about the bad moments though. Hopefully, we are able to at least comfort our pups during those times to offer some relief 🙂

  6. Tenacious Little Terrier May 27, 2016 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    We didn’t even make a rule about beds or furniture from the beginning! Mr. N would be horrified if he could never get on furniture, I think. Of course he takes up a lot less room that your crew! It sounds like Simon’s theme song should be, “everything is awesome!”

    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      That’s hilarious! Great minds do think alike because when that movie came out, that’s exactly what I said!! 🙂 By the time Simon came along and now Piper, I didn’t even try to pretend that wouldn’t be allowed on the furniture 😉

  7. Harvey Button May 27, 2016 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Interesting that people are drrawn to certain dog breeds. We have cats and I got to thinking, it would be SO different to have a big dog around the house. Cats are (mostly 😉 small-ish but a labrador, or a husky is HUGE by comparison isn’t it!
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    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      I agree! It really is fascinating why we choose the pets we choose and the size of the pet really does make a difference in so many areas of our lives. I will say that I had a friend with a Maine Coon cat and that cat was MASSIVE! 😉

  8. The Daily Pip May 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    I love this post and especially that you told your daughter dogs would not be on the couch or sleep in your bed. Good for Zora for changing your mind.

    I currently share my home with three cats, one dog, and one rabbit. They all express different parts of my personality even Lulu, our bunny, who is quite bossy and doesn’t really let anyone push her around – dog or cats. I am not as assertive as Lulu, but certainly aspire to be!
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    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Ha! I just got an awesome visual of Lulu bossing everyone around. Love it!

      I totally get that each of your pets represents a part of your personality. I don’t if it’s by design or happenstance but that does seem to be the case in my house as well 🙂

  9. Miss Molly Says May 27, 2016 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    LOVED your post! And your Simon sounds like a few of mine LOL! My Sadie that has crossed the bridge was the first one and now what I call the pups (even though they are now 3 years – siblings) are super high octane! Actually, with Sadie, it was what attracted me to her. I loved the energy and spunk just as I love my pups high energy and love of life! It’s what makes them, well them, ya know?
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    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you liked the post! Thanks! Don’t you wish we had even half our dog’s energy each day. Just think what we could accomplish! 😉

  10. christycaplan (@christycaplan) May 27, 2016 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Ok, so many things I loved about this post. Both dogs are beautiful and their optimism and loyalty are so clear in your introduction in this post. Simon is like my “Shermie” and oh that Zora. Clearly a special soul. I also didn’t know you’d been blogging since 2014 so that’s awesome! AND my husband is from Boston so now I can hear the accent in your writing. 🙂

    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      So glad you like the post 🙂 I love that you can hear my accent in my writing! That’s awesome. To clarify…I wrote this post in 2014 and then didn’t touch the blog until October of 2015 so I don’t know that I can technically say I’ve been blogging since 2014 😉

  11. Ruth and Layla May 27, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    I am thinking about all the pets I have had in my life and Layla whom I have today, she is a sweetie, full of love and especially with kids, she is a happy girl that runs through the park wagging her tail (we all waiting for her to take off like a helicopter) but most of all she makes me smile, get out of the house and actually socialize in the dog parks.I don’t know what I would do without her especially in a big city.

    • SimonDawg May 29, 2016 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      So glad you have sweet Layla. Our dogs really do help get us out in the world 🙂

  12. Lindsay Pevny May 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Simon really does sound like Marley!

    I’m amazed at how much I love both of my dogs, Matilda and Cow, in such different ways. I teach Matilda lots of tricks and she loves to learn, but she’s very motivated by food, while Cow just really, really loves hugs. They’re both lovable and clever in different ways.
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      It really is incredible to me how different each dog’s personality in almost every way. 🙂

  13. Robin May 30, 2016 at 12:45 am - Reply

    Simon sounds like he has the right idea in life! If only more people could choose to just be happy no matter what their circumstances are. We make ourselves insane! My cat represents a lot of the qualities I want for myself. She is herself no matter what anyone thinks of that. She loves with wild abandon. She doesn’t apologize for anything. Just as a bonus – this less than 10 lb runt of a kitty scared away the maintenance man. He heard her talking to a toy through the door and called us saying that there was a “threatening” animal in our apartment. Go Manna!
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      I love it! A guard cat 🙂 The one thing I really do miss about having cats in the house is that fierce “I don’t care what anyone thinks” attitude!

  14. Fur Everywhere May 30, 2016 at 12:58 am - Reply

    It’s sounds like you have two great dogs with very different personalities! I bet every day is a new adventure with them. 🙂
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      With the addition of Piper last year, I now have three dogs and “adventure’ is an understatement 😉

  15. Sweet Purrfections May 30, 2016 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    I’ve had dogs, cats, turtles, and birds in my life. I’m currently owned by two cats and they are my life at this point in my life.
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Cats do have a way of making it clear just who owns who 😉 I do miss having a cat in the house.

  16. Kia May 30, 2016 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    I loved Marley and me. Simon sounds a lot
    like my dads dog Samson. Simon sounds like such a sweet and happy dog. Love this!
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Simon is definitely a sweetheart and he is definitely happy… enthusiastically happy, even 😉

  17. FiveSibesMom May 30, 2016 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Love your cats’ names! You really got me to thinking when you said we are drawn to our chosen dog breeds by what qualities we would like to see in ourselves…so I started reviewing them all, and you are so right! I really loved that! Great post!
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I’m so glad that you liked the post 🙂

  18. Beth May 31, 2016 at 12:07 am - Reply

    Pets add so much to our lives! I’m glad you have Zora, Simon and now Piper! I bet your daughter loves them just as much as you do.
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    • SimonDawg June 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      They do indeed add something unique and very special to our lives 🙂

  19. Jane March 30, 2017 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Loved reading and learning a little more about you! I too have always grown up with multiple pets and there is always the one who sleeps above my head! Currently, it would be my Chi ?

    • Alison Reder
      Alison Reder April 3, 2017 at 8:19 am - Reply

      A Chi seems like the perfect pillow companion! 🙂

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