Doug Speirs’ humour column, In the Doug House, has appeared on Page 2 of the Winnipeg Free Press at least three times a week since 2006. No one is exactly sure why.
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.
In his columns, Doug strives to focus on the vital issues of the day, but generally ends up writing about himself and his family, especially his two dogs, because he isn’t overly fond of getting out of bed or leaving the house.
For column fodder, he has tried his hand at everything from barrel racing to playing Santa Claus for hundreds of screaming schoolchildren on a jumbo jet to performing with Canada’s top Elvis impersonators. He also bravely writes about the weather every Saturday, pets every second Tuesday and writes a new column, Speiriscope, in Saturday’s 49.8 section.
No topic is too small to escape Doug’s keen journalistic eye, especially if it involves his infamous war with the army of mice living in his basement or his frequent run-ins with public relations professionals who are just trying to do their jobs.
He is also known for columns on quirky news events, his insights on raising teenagers, his helpful insights on the key differences between men and women and his penchant for spending up to three hours floating in the bathtub.
Doug was born in Vancouver and still worships the B.C. Lions. Despite this flaw, readers find him approachable, especially in the checkout aisles at crowded grocery stores. He was a finalist at the 2008 National Newspaper Awards for column writing.
He and his wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, have two children, neither of whom thinks he is the least bit funny.
Recent articles of Doug Speirs
What with all the depressing news weighing everyone down, today I’d like to share an uplifting story that I’ve decided to call The Little Red Ladder That Could.
I should point out that I didn’t make up this story; it was related to me by my good buddy Joe Grande, the ebullient and longtime owner of Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano on Corydon Avenue.
Joe shared his deeply moving tale this week while he and I were sitting in the back seat of my car, Joe’s wife was in the passenger seat, and my spouse, She Who Must Not Be Named, was at the wheel, driving us to a friend’s birthday party in the picturesque town of Niverville, about 42 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
So there we were, Joe and I, relaxing in the back seat, with me twiddling my thumbs in boredom while Joe stared with laser-like intensity at his cellphone because he was determined to discover what would officially be considered “the worst word in the world.”
I’m not what you would call a big fan of tennis, but I did spend a fair bit of time lying on the couch last week watching the action at Wimbledon unfold on the new 65-inch TV in my den.
I found the traditional back and forth at the world’s most famous Grand Slam tournament to be moderately interesting, but as a dedicated sports fan I felt something important was missing from this year’s event.
As most sports-loving readers have already deduced, I am talking about dogs.
For those of you who have spent the past few weeks hiding in a drainpipe, you will be surprised to learn that this year’s edition of Wimbledon came within a whisker of — prepare to begin howling with excitement — going to the dogs.
For the record, I wasn’t trying to burn down my house on a day that was already so hot birds were bursting into flames in mid-air.
No, what I was trying to do was feed my friends and family on a scorching Father’s Day by firing up my portable, wood-fired pizza oven in the back yard.
Spoiler alert: Things did not go as planned.
So there I was Sunday evening, sweating like a Butterball turkey on Thanksgiving, busily stuffing tiny bits of hardwood into the fire box of the stainless steel pizza oven I’d been given last year for my 65th birthday.
I do not know what you were doing on Monday afternoon, but I was witnessing a miracle.
This miraculous moment took place at Bridges Golf Course about 40 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg where for the 13th year I bravely caddied in the Pink Ribbon Ladies Golf Classic for Hope, the largest women-only golf tournament in the province.
This is the tournament wherein each of the 36 four-woman teams is assigned a hairy-legged person of my gender as a caddie to cater to their every whim, a manly man who not only keeps score, lines up putts, retrieves errant balls and fetches cold beverages, but does it while wearing a golf shirt so shockingly pink circus clowns would refuse to wear one on the grounds it was beneath their dignity.
Every year, at the start of this fundraising tournament, each team is handed a pink golf ball that they have to tee off with on every hole. The genius concept is that if you still have your pink ball at the end of the day, you drop it in a big pink bucket for a chance at winning a really swell prize.
Now that tick season is upon us, today’s helpful topic is: How to get your dog to swallow a pill.
This became a serious issue for me this week when I attempted to get our two fluffy white dogs to swallow pills designed to protect them from the blood-sucking ticks lurking in our back yard.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: “Seriously, Doug, there are only two steps for giving a pill to a dog: 1) Wrap it in bacon; 2) Toss it in the air.”
Well, that is true with the vast majority of food-motivated dogs, such as our emergency backup mutt Juno, who would devour an entire gazelle if you wrapped it in bacon and tossed it in the air, despite the fact she has only two crooked teeth left in her head.
Six months into retirement, my life is more exciting than ever.
That’s because at the tender age of 65 I have been transformed into an action hero — at least in my dreams.
When I was younger, my dreams were decidedly dull. For example, I can clearly recall one dream that consisted entirely of me visiting Eaton’s to buy a pair of winter gloves. No thrills, no spills, no X-rated content. Just buying a pair of (bad word) gloves.
But it would be putting it mildly to say things have changed now that I have more time on my hands. Now — and the bumps and bruises on my body are proof of this — it appears as if my dreams are trying to kill me.
I have no wish to wallow in self-pity, but I think you should know my wife and I barely survived a crisis last weekend when the third Colorado low in three weeks smacked this province head-on.
I am not talking about the fact that we had to run the submersible pump in our back yard for three consecutive days to prevent an ocean of melted snow and rainwater from pouring into our basement.
No, I am talking about something even more horrifying. What I am trying to say — and I recommend you sit down before reading this next part — is that, as rain thundered down and the NHL playoffs were getting under way, the beloved big-screen TV in our den dropped dead.
It is difficult to describe the anguish of having your favourite appliance suddenly give up the ghost at a time when it is unsafe to leave the comfort of your den, but I will try: It was really, really horrible!
I can tell you from personal experience that being a grandparent definitely has its moments.
But today’s column is not about the fact that my new granddaughter, Ivy, is the most remarkable infant in the known universe.
No, today’s column is about some of the magical moments experienced by my plucky sister-in-law Shelley, who recently returned from spending two months visiting her two young grandsons in Australia.
Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged, because Shelley agreed to share two especially heart-touching grandparent moments with me the other day during a family brunch at the Qualico Family Centre in Assiniboine Park.
It seems like every other day scientists are breathlessly announcing they have discovered ice somewhere else in our solar system.
They’ve famously detected icy deposits on other planets, on moons, in comets, even in the gigantic rings of Saturn.
Q: Is that scientifically awesome, or what?
A: NO! Sorry, I hate to throw your sense of wonder into the deep freeze, but the scientific truth is we have so much (bad word) ice on this planet that the last thing we need to do is waste time wandering around the galaxy looking for more.
Given the exceedingly grim nature of the world at the moment, I suspect we could all use a little happy news.
Fortunately, I have two upbeat nuggets to share with you today, starting with the fact that, if you look out your window right now, you will notice that the gigantic snowbanks sealing you off from the rest of the world are about half a centimetre smaller than they were the day before.
That’s because the March equinox — the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere — rolls into Winnipeg Sunday morning at precisely 10:32 a.m., meaning the coldest and snowiest winter in modern memory is finally drawing to a close.
As if that wasn’t enough to thaw your frozen spirits, the second upbeat nugget is even better — the fact there is just one more sleep until the season of rebirth and renewal arrives means it’s time once again for Mr. Doug’s Annual Spring Fashion Report.
Over the almost 40 years I spent in the newspaper business, I like to think I developed a nose for news, an innate ability to sniff out big stories.
Now that I’m mostly retired, however, I need to retrain my journalistic nostrils to track down other ways to make a little extra cash in my spare time.
Which explains why I became so excited last week when, while randomly Googling words on the home computer, I stumbled on multiple news reports explaining how I can employ my highly trained nose to earn more than $6,000 in just two months.
You will think I am making this up, but it seems a plant-based pet food company in Britain is making headlines around the world by offering to pay a dog owner more than $6,000 to switch their canine’s diet for two months and — you might want to sit down before reading this next bit — keep track of their pet’s poop smells.