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The Hidden Life of Dogs (Dave Barry) (LOL!)
Maimi Herald ^ | Dave Barry

Posted on 08/07/2005 8:43:26 AM PDT by nuconvert

The hidden life of dogs

BY DAVE BARRY

(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published on Dec. 12, 1993.)

I want to talk about the hidden lives of my dogs.

Until recently, I wasn't aware that my dogs had hidden lives. There were many times, such as when they'd take turns repeatedly eating a deceased lizard and throwing it back up, when I wasn't even sure they had brains. Then I got ''The Hidden Life of Dogs,'' the best-selling book by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who has some astounding insights into dog behavior. For example, in an effort to find out what dogs do when they're on their own, she spent months following a husky named Misha as he roamed all over Cambridge, Mass. What Thomas discovered was that Misha, who at first appeared to be simply trotting around aimlessly, was in fact earning a degree from Harvard Business School.

No, I am joshing. Harvard does not accept huskies unless their parents are extremely wealthy. What Thomas discovered, after much observation, was that Misha spent his time -- and here I will attempt to summarize two full chapters of ''The Hidden Life of Dogs'' -- sniffing other dogs and peeing a lot.

This might not strike you dog-owners as all that deep of an insight. But trust me, it seems like one when you're reading the book. Because where you might see just a plain old dog engaging in non-rocket-scientist behavior, Thomas sees a highly sophisticated organism responding to elaborate socio-biological stimuli and performing complex problem-solving tasks. It's not her fault that the solution to the problem is usually to pee on it.

Anyway, reading this book got me to thinking about my own dogs. Did they have a hidden life? If so, could I discover it, and -- more important -- write a best-selling book?

To find out, I removed my dogs from the confined, controlled environment of our house and put them outside, where they were free to reveal their hidden lives. I observed them closely for the better part of a day, and thus I am able to reveal here, for the first time anywhere, that what dogs do, when they are able to make their own decisions in accordance with their unfettered natural instincts, is: Try to get back inside the house. They spent most of the day pressing sad moony faces up against the glass patio door, taking only occasional breaks to see if it was a good idea to eat worms (Answer: No).

Of course, the dogs have important and complex socio-biological reasons for wanting to get back into the house. For one thing, the house contains the most wondrous thing in the world: the kitchen counter. One time a piece of turkey fell off of it. The dogs still regularly visit the spot where it landed, in case it shows up again. There's an invisible Dog Historic Marker there.

Another reason is that the house provides a better echo for barking. Dogs employ barking as a vital means of communicating important messages, such as: ''bark.'' Barking also serves a vital biological purpose: If a dog does not release a certain number of barks per day, they will back up, and the dog will explode. (Whenever you hear an unexplained loud noise in the distance, it's probably a dog exploding.)

Our large main dog, Earnest, spends her day sleeping directly under my desk, and three or four times a day she'll have a pressure buildup, causing her to wake up, lift her head, release a bark and immediately go back to sleep. Her bark, traveling at the speed of bark, quickly reaches our small emergency backup dog, Zippy, who is sleeping elsewhere in the house. He wakes up and rushes up to the outside of my office door and starts barking at it, because there is clearly something wrong inside. (Why else would Earnest have barked?) This in turn awakens Earnest, who leaps up, bonks her head against the bottom of my desk, then rushes over and starts barking at her side of the door. Each dog is firmly convinced that there is Big Trouble on the other side, possibly involving their arch-enemy, the U.S. Postal Service truck. It comes around every day, and usually Earnest and Zippy are able to drive it off by barking at it and getting spit all over the windows by our front door, but now apparently the truck somehow has GOTTEN INTO THE HOUSE and is ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS DOOR BARK BARK BARK BARKBARKBARKBARK!!!

This is what my dogs are thinking (if ''thinking'' is the word I want here) as I get up, walk past Earnest, who is now insane with rage, and open the door. Instantly Earnest charges BARKBARKBARK into the hall, narrowly missing Zippy, who is charging BARKBARKBARK into my office. Each one goes about five feet, then -- WAIT a minute!! -- skids to a stop, whirls around, and charges back the other way, still barking. Sometimes they'll pass each other three or four times before they run out of momentum and lie down again, confident that, thanks to their alertness, the house is once again safe. This is the hidden dog world that goes on every day in our house. I admit that, socio-biologically, it is not as interesting as the things that Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' dogs do. But Earnest and Zippy are the only dogs I have. Make me an offer.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Political Humor/Cartoons
KEYWORDS: barry; davebarry; doggieping; dogs; humor
"For one thing, the house contains the most wondrous thing in the world: the kitchen counter. One time a piece of turkey fell off of it. The dogs still regularly visit the spot where it landed, in case it shows up again. There's an invisible Dog Historic Marker there."

LOL

1 posted on 08/07/2005 8:43:27 AM PDT by nuconvert
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To: nuconvert

This is why dogs pee on car tires.
It leaves an invisible dotted line they can follow if they
get lost.
My old hound "Trooper" got lost once, he was gone for two weeks, finally my ex who was a pet sitter was making a call
on the other side of Atlanta and there he was sitting on
the porch waiting for her, like "Where you been?".
The only alternative was space alien abduction, which
would have been a first for a dog, at least as far as we know.


2 posted on 08/07/2005 8:51:03 AM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: tet68

Maybe he was one of the 4400? I think that's how we GOT our dog. One day he just appeared. Don't recall a flash of light, but I might have been asleep.

;)


3 posted on 08/07/2005 8:54:33 AM PDT by MizSterious (Now, if only we could convince them all to put on their bomb-vests and meet in Mecca...)
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To: Boxsford; F14 Pilot; Ditter; Irish Rose

LOL! Pong


4 posted on 08/07/2005 8:57:03 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert

Substitute an old giant knotty pecan tree for Barry's mail truck and it's the same story here. We own one dog but for some reason the neighbor's dog lives here most of the time as well. It must be our kitchen counter is more interesting and our couch is softer.


5 posted on 08/07/2005 8:57:54 AM PDT by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: nuconvert
Look! The Neighbor's dog!

Come to kill us all!

Look! Look! Look! Look!

6 posted on 08/07/2005 9:00:55 AM PDT by patton ("Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart, and write.")
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: mtbopfuyn

On cooler mornings I leave my office door open to the backyard. Chippy (my Westie)stands guard watching for squirrels or other offending varmits trying to hang out in his yard. When he does spot a squirrel he literally flies out the door and chases the poor squirrel up the tree. After this workout he is usually satisfied and comes strutting back to his perch just inside the door. We have our share of dog snot on the front window as well. For the most part, though, he spends his days peeing, eating, barking, sniffing and, most of all, sleeping (which is his favorite past time).


8 posted on 08/07/2005 9:13:42 AM PDT by Lobbyist (Just doing a job an illegal alien can't do.)
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To: tet68; nuconvert

I've actually read Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' book. She was your classic Cambridge eccentric. She kept a house full of work dogs, mostly sled dogs, and would take them for walks around the city. That was during the day.

She discovered that the alpha male would get loose at night, and she wondered where he went. So she started following him in his travels in the wee hours (that's the chapter Dave Barry summarizes:) This dog could cross busy highways without getting hurt, once even got as far as Concord, quite a trek from Cambridge (10 mi+).

What was really unusual is that she didn't train her dogs, just allowed them to live according to their own instinctive wolfpack rules, and recorded their behavior.

A fascinating read.


9 posted on 08/07/2005 9:19:40 AM PDT by cloud8
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To: nuconvert

Lol, My beagle is a lazy bum, He won't even get my slippers or newspaper.


10 posted on 08/07/2005 9:29:21 AM PDT by Zenith1138
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To: Zenith1138

But he's got the barking down, right?


11 posted on 08/07/2005 9:30:47 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert

Actually, Their so called secret life consist of doing it, sleeping and eating. Take away his manhood and all he'll do is sleep, eat and sleep.


12 posted on 08/07/2005 9:32:26 AM PDT by Zenith1138
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To: nuconvert
It's not her fault that the solution to the problem is usually to pee on it.

That fits right in with what I have always known to be a dog's philosophy on life:

If you can't eat it or copulate with it...pee on it.

13 posted on 08/07/2005 9:35:01 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts ("It's a 'dog eat dog' world out there and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear.")
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

Lol


14 posted on 08/07/2005 9:37:00 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert
Mom and dad had a poodle and German shepherd that disappeared one day while they were up north at their cottage. We fondly recall that time as Zarek and Poco's great adventure. Mom and dad spent 3 day driving the back roads and logging trails looking for them and dad even left his jacket by the side of the road hoping they might smell it and stay by if if they found it. (somebody ultimately found it and took it)

3 days later they drove into the teeny little town a few miles away for dinner in the bar and who should be sleeping behind the bar. They had wandered up to bar a couple hours earlier and the owner, recognizing them, had taken them in.

With the exception of being on the losing end of their battles with a skunk and porcupine, they were pretty much all right. Dad figures they probably lit out after a deer then became hopelessly lost.

15 posted on 08/07/2005 9:40:36 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (What is a homosexual Islamic Jihadist going to do with 72 virgins? Can he give them away?)
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To: Hot Tabasco

Glad it had a happy ending.


16 posted on 08/07/2005 9:46:38 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert

Very cute. I have two Black Labs and a Basset Hound. Dave explained them perfectly. :)


17 posted on 08/07/2005 9:48:54 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: nuconvert

This is one of those times when something moderately amusing struck me as completely hilarious...I'm still wiping tears from laughing SO HARD!

Thanks for posting this...:D


18 posted on 08/07/2005 9:52:11 AM PDT by SE Mom (God Bless those who serve)
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To: nuconvert

bump for later read


19 posted on 08/07/2005 9:55:45 AM PDT by albee (The best thing you can do for the poor is...not be one of them!)
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To: nuconvert

I have a Border Collie and she doesn't have an 'off' switch. Always curious--never lazy. She smiles when excited and cries real tears when you scold her.

They're a handful for most people but have to be some of the most intelligent creatures ever created.

SGT C.


20 posted on 08/07/2005 10:00:13 AM PDT by veeceeque (Proudly fighting for the greatest nation on Earth! God Bless the USA.)
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To: HairOfTheDog

Ping!


21 posted on 08/07/2005 10:04:28 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows ("MON CANARD EST EN FEU!!" -- http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20050620.html)
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To: nuconvert

Thanks for posting that, I laughed so hard the tears were streaming down my cheeks.


22 posted on 08/07/2005 10:10:41 AM PDT by McGavin999 ("You must call evil by it's name" GW Bush ......... It's name is Terror)
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To: Dog

thought I ought to ping ya


23 posted on 08/07/2005 10:12:38 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert; Flyer; technochick99; sinkspur; annyokie; Scott from the Left Coast; 88keys; ...
Ping!


Other articles with keyword "DOGGIEPING" since 12/29/04

24 posted on 08/07/2005 10:18:00 AM PDT by HairOfTheDog (Join the Hobbit Hole Troop Support - http://freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net/)
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To: nuconvert

Invisible Dog Historic Marker ! .... so true, we use to throw a treat at a certain spot while cooking, now he choms his his teeth together at us and runs to the same spot. sometimes we find him at the same stop sniffing and waiting. Kids taught him to say "mom" (yes ! he does say what sounds like mom)and he does it every time and runs to the same spot. Wierd dog.


25 posted on 08/07/2005 10:18:42 AM PDT by newfrpr04
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To: Lobbyist
My Scruffy very rarely barks in the middle of the night but when he does I literally levitate off the bed due to surprise.
26 posted on 08/07/2005 10:29:23 AM PDT by proudofthesouth (Boycotting movies since 1988)
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To: Flyer; humblegunner; Allegra; TheMom; Xenalyte; thackney; Eaker; stevie_d_64; TXBSAFH; ...

Fun doggie read ping!


27 posted on 08/07/2005 10:37:33 AM PDT by pax_et_bonum
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To: nuconvert

Gotta love Dave Barry!


28 posted on 08/07/2005 10:46:14 AM PDT by tob2 (Old Fossil and Proud of It!)
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To: pax_et_bonum; thackney

Our very own thackman had a dog that had a real secret life.

I don't remember all the details so maybe he will post them!


29 posted on 08/07/2005 10:46:25 AM PDT by Eaker (My Wife Rocks!)
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To: nuconvert
On the other hand, some may be smarter than others...
30 posted on 08/07/2005 11:05:48 AM PDT by Marauder (You can't stop sheep-killing predators by putting more restrictions on the sheep.)
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To: veeceeque

We had a visitor day before yesterday. This cute little black and wite border collie waltzed up to the front door and followed my husband into the house. (!!) She didn't know, sit, but could definitely flop down, and roll over to have her belly scratched. She was wet and smelled like "dog". (Obviously outside most of the time). She had on a collar that said her name was "Dixie". She responded to her name but she also responsed to hey you. Very friendly dog. I put her in the garage with water and everytime I opened the door, she rolled over. LOL We located Dixie's daddy through her rabies tag and her vet. He came and got her, said she was supposed to be in the fenced back yard with his other dog (that one was waiting on his front porch, LOL). I said to him "Dixie definitely has a way out!"

We had a Brittany Spaniel one time, no way could you keep her confined. She went over a 7 foot electric fence. You could hear "psst!" when she went over, but she went anyway. She was also fond of jumping on firecrackers which would blow her ears up and leave her face singed (I never thought she was the sharpest knife in the drawer)


31 posted on 08/07/2005 11:28:57 AM PDT by greccogirl ("Freedom belongs to those who are willing to sacrifice the most for it")
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To: nuconvert
My dog Snoopy, that's him to the right, spends most of his time transcribing my thoughts.

Which means he works very little :) In which case he's sleeping.

32 posted on 08/07/2005 11:35:13 AM PDT by upchuck ("If our nation be destroyed, it would be from the judiciary." ~ Thomas Jefferson)
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To: dd5339; cavtrooper21

ping for a good read!


33 posted on 08/07/2005 11:44:24 AM PDT by Vic3O3 (Jeremiah 31:16-17 (KJV))
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To: nuconvert

My old dog, Sandy (who died a couple of weeks ago at 17 years of age) was so into the Al Gore thing that whe did the same thing each morning that we do when we get up, drink coffee and check our email. She had a slightly different twist however, she would go outside, walk up to our mailbox by the road and check her "PEEMAIL."

She was able to read whatever came in the peemail overnight and spend much of her time sniffing (reading) it.


34 posted on 08/07/2005 11:52:38 AM PDT by DH
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To: Lobbyist
When he does spot a squirrel he literally flies out the door and chases the poor squirrel up the tree.

Our half Australian Shepard, Misty, also took a dim view of squirels and cats. She killed three of the latter, two by using our other dog, Maude, as a blocker, but fortunatly never could catch a cat.

35 posted on 08/07/2005 12:29:21 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Eaker

He was a trainer for trainers of greyhound racers.

He had so much heart they didn't want to give up on him.

He had so little talent, they eventually did.

Can you imagine, six different trainers, and last in every race?

Later we learned his secrete plans. Retire Early!!! He takes retirement from the track very, very seriously. Most people mistake him for a lumpy rug.


36 posted on 08/07/2005 1:17:14 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: nuconvert
There's an invisible Dog Historic Marker there.

True except in my Maddie's case its a spot anywhere that a very lucky varmit somehow managed to escape her "jaws of death". She will return to that exact spot loking for the one "who got away"

37 posted on 08/07/2005 2:04:30 PM PDT by apackof2 (In my simple way, I guess you could say I'm living in the BIG TIME)
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To: Baynative

38 posted on 08/07/2005 2:26:27 PM PDT by uglybiker (Did ya hear the one about the cannibal who passed his best friend in the forest?)
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To: Lobbyist

squirel up a tree? I live in Cent. FL on 5 acres. Several winter ago we had 4 black bears in the backyard eating acords from the oak trees. My Doberman took after all of them (scared my wife and me to death), but she's fearless. She treed all of them in the oak trees. Now these are 400 lb. bears. They scramble up oak trees like squirells. We got her back into the house.


39 posted on 08/07/2005 2:43:13 PM PDT by jslade ("If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried."(Seminole Cty, FL))
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To: jslade

I give. That story trumps my little squirrel tale. Wow! Bears in my backyard would have sent me packing.


40 posted on 08/07/2005 3:05:03 PM PDT by Lobbyist (Just doing a job an illegal alien can't do.)
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41 posted on 08/07/2005 6:07:36 PM PDT by Eaker (My Wife Rocks!)
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To: veeceeque
My dad had a wonderful border collie, who absolutely loved my dad. She was very smart and would work hard. One day she was in the house and knocked over some just-filled canning jars, making a big mess. My dad yelled at her.

She fainted! I am not making this up!

My dad felt so guilty that he would never discipline her again. She became a very smart, spoiled dog. (Although she really was mostly well-behaved.)

42 posted on 08/07/2005 6:20:52 PM PDT by Miss Marple (Karl Rove is Plame-proof.)
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To: nuconvert

43 posted on 08/07/2005 6:29:31 PM PDT by TC Rider (The United States Constitution 1791. All Rights Reserved.)
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To: TC Rider

44 posted on 08/07/2005 6:33:21 PM PDT by TC Rider (The United States Constitution 1791. All Rights Reserved.)
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To: nuconvert
Well!!

SOME people have really stupid dogs. MY dogs are multi-taskers. Their current main function (to their mind) is the eradication of the Armadillo that is methodically rototilling my entire 1 acre yard. (We don't count the surrounding many acres of wilderness.

However there is some dissension on this point as Third dog (who is actually to her mind First dog) believes that sitting under the trees and barking at the squirrel is the primary focus around here and that the Armadillo is just play time.

Anyway, after several bouts of squirrel harassment during the day they settle down after sunset in their beds along the back french doors to do guard duty. The wiley Armadillo has become quite leery of coming out before 11:00 or so. They take turns standing guard but for dinner time where they assume their accustomed place under the table waiting for bites.

After dinner they go back to the french doors. Until about 10:30 which is THEIR dinner time. After, they do another few minutes at the french doors until that stupid smooth thing comes out.

First dog is always the one to spot it. I think he has the best eyes. How providential that it is time for them to go out and potty anyway. They all rush out ( I have learned to stand well to the side of the door as the combined weight of the three of them is about 240 pounds and my knees are shiite these days).


After rolling the hapless smooth thing around a bit (just try grabbing up an Armadillo sometime) it invariably escapes to one of its eight or so holes in the wilderness I call the back yard. (Hey! I mowed once this year) Once the smooth thing is gone under the rock or down hole #2a they dutifully water the appropriate trees and come inside.

Well that's a lot for one post regarding such magnificent dogs. Maybe sometime I will tell you about riding in the pickup truck which is what these canines were REALLY made for.
45 posted on 08/07/2005 7:04:20 PM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over a year now)
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To: Lobbyist

So your dog is a squirrel chaser huh? My dog prefered deer. My hubby would walk our dog into a field and it would be constantly filled with deer. Once he saw them, he took off like a rocket and chased the deer into the woods, come strutting back, and looking at my hubby as if he had done the greatest thing in the world. I always got a chuckle out of that.


46 posted on 08/07/2005 8:40:10 PM PDT by Arpege92 ("I am happy, be it yourselves." - Pope John Paul II)
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To: nuconvert

a main dog and backup dog? LOL!


47 posted on 08/11/2005 9:33:50 AM PDT by Boxsford
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To: nuconvert
and, you know nu, speaking of Seinfeld (and you have in the past)this story sort of has a correlation between dogs and men. Jerry Seinfeld admits himself what men are thinking about--'nothing'. think about it--historic marker; kitchen counter....food! ;)
48 posted on 08/11/2005 9:38:59 AM PDT by Boxsford
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To: Boxsford

LoL


49 posted on 08/11/2005 9:50:56 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: cloud8
in his travels in the wee hours

Which sums up Dave's summary.

50 posted on 08/11/2005 9:57:59 AM PDT by tnlibertarian
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