Someone has it made in the shade

My pooch Igor and I have the perfect relationship. She knows I’m the alpha-dog and she always treats me with love and respect. Except, maybe, when there’s a perfectly-grilled, leftover swordfish steak unattended on the table waiting to be wrapped up and put in the fridge. That’s when she becomes a magician and makes the swordfish steak disappear — in one gulp and then gives me the old “Who me?” look. I’ve since forgiven her for that, but will never forget.

But this summer, good old Iggy and I are having a border war.

My deck, from early spring until late fall, becomes our primary living room. The Jolivets spend more time on the deck than inside during this time.

The problem is, our deck faces the south, which means we get full sun exposure from 10 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m.

For Denise, this is not a problem. She’s a sun goddess and is totally in her element under the big yellow orb.

But for me, that’s problematic. After years and years of playing baseball, softball, basketball, running road races and going to the beach, my skin is quite sun-damaged, and I’ve had a few skin problems over the years. In fact I had part of my ear removed from such damage. So, I must be prudent and careful when it comes to sun exposure.

The problem for my canine is that the direct sunlight causes the deck floorboards to become scalding hot. It’s unbearable on my two bare feet, not to mention Igor’s four. And they don’t make flip-flops for dogs — at least not that I know. Plus, there’s no way she can plop down and lay on the deck-turned-grill.

This year, I decided to invest in a big sun umbrella to provide shade for me and Iggy.

It’s a seven-foot umbrella, and it casts a decent amount of shade. As soon as I mounted it in position and opened it for the first time, Igor immediately staked a claim dead center in its path. I didn’t even have a chance to get my deck chair in position.

Now, as the day progresses, obviously the sun slides across the sky changing the position of the shade on the deck.

That means Igor and I scramble to get the best spot. This has been going on for a couple of months now, and I can’t seem to get the upper paw on this.

She’s too quick for me. One time as I was moving my chair to a better position — already claimed by Iggy — I brushed her tail and she shot me an evil eye. Emilie said “Dad, you put the chair on her tail!” I retorted, “Relax, she’s overreacting.” Then we both noticed a clump of fur beneath my chair leg. Oops, sorry pup.

Added to this mix is the fact that Emilie is not the sun goddess her mother is and she likes the shade as much as her dad and canine sister. And when Danny is over, he too vies for a shady spot.

I imagine it’s quite the sight for our neighbors to see three adults and a dog squeezed into one area on the deck while Denise and the plants have the other 80 percent.

Some would say, “Get a bigger umbrella,” but that’s not practical because it would block the sun from our flowers, tomato, strawberry, and pepper plants. That would mean the plants and Denise would be fighting for the sun spots.

Once we’re back indoors, I’m back to being the alpha-dog, sans the swordfish. At least in the house I have it made in the shade.

Dave Jolivet can be reached at

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