Steve Ferguson’s baby can do no wrong.
Her dirty face is too cute. Her antics are fascinating. Steve laughs like a 10-year-old as he watches her, picks her up and buries his face in her curly hair.
“He’s mellowed tremendously,” a friend says, impressed with the baby’s influence on Steve. “I’ve never seen him like that.”
At 55, Steve’s raised his children and started over, this time with a puppy.
“I can’t get him to go to work anymore,” his wife, Sue, says and laughs as Steve follows Tootsie Roll, the tiny Shih Tzu/Pekingese and poodle pup, across their Coeur d’Alene back yard.
When Steve married Sue in 1989, she came with Pepper, a small terrier. Pepper was a perfect companion for Steve’s daily, 4-mile walks. After Pepper succumbed to old age in March, Steve and Sue were heartbroken.
Sue mourned for a month, then began looking for another small, not too hairy, already housebroken, female dog. Steve wanted a puppy.
“He’s never had a puppy,” Sue say. “They’re too much work.”
She adopted 3-year-old Taffy, a creamy cocker, from the Kootenai Humane Society. Taffy was hairier than Sue preferred, so Sue immediately took her to a groomer. That’s where she found Tootsie Roll.
The buff-colored pup fit in Sue’s palm and squirmed into her heart. She went home with two new dogs. Steve was elated.
“I went from (personality) type A to type B,” he says. He’s owned Coeur d’Alene’s Dairy Queen since 1981 and used to work 14-hour days. “I used to sleep in late. Now this puppy gets me up at 5:30.”
Like a new baby, Tootsie dragged them out of bed every few hours for six weeks. She soiled the carpet, chewed on everything and demanded constant attention. They were happy to oblige. The Fergusons laugh more now than they did before Tootsie. She appeals to the child in Steve and the mother in Sue.
“She enlivens the family, even the marriage,” Steve says, tearing his attention away from Tootsie.
“She simplifies our life,” Sue says. “We don’t need expensive diversions.”
The Kootenai Humane Society animal shelter has 35 dogs and 100 cats awaiting adoption. Call 772-4019.
In deep water
The chances of seeing someone you know in a Speedo aren’t that great at Saturday’s third annual Long Bridge Swim in Sandpoint. Lake Pend Oreille is cold and swim organizer Eric Ridgeway recommends swimmers wear wet suits for safety.
But go anyway, either to swim or cheer on swimmers from the bridge. Some are barely teenagers; some are pushing the other end of the age spectrum.
The swim is a quarter-mile shy of two miles, from the south end of the bridge to Dog Beach. Eric lets swimmers wear fins, which makes the going much easier. Of course, swimmers in fins don’t qualify for speed awards.
If you want to try the swim, call 265-5412 for details.
A child of your own
You may be reveling in summer, but local directors of two U.S. State Department-approved foreign exchange programs can’t quit thinking of fall. They have to find good homes for high school students coming to North Idaho from the former Soviet Union, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Venezuela, Ecuador, Korea, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam.
These kids bring sorely needed variety to the Panhandle. If you’re interested in adding a little culture to your home, call Skip Kuck at 772-3953 or Joey Grunden at 772-0918.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve found crawling in your garden this year? Describe it for Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200; Coeur d’Alene, ID, 83814; FAX to 765-7149; call 765-7128; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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