Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs

Columnist

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

Ho, ho, hold on a minute

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Ho, ho, hold on a minute

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

Jeff Liba had some big boots to fill on Tuesday morning — and he’ll be squeezing into them again today.

At the last moment, Liba was forced to slip into a red-velvet suit to portray Santa Claus at two Winter Wonderland parties organized by Variety, the Children’s Charity of Manitoba, for hundreds of economically disadvantaged schoolchildren in Winnipeg.

The CEO of Variety was pressed into the role of Kris Kringle when the organization’s longtime Santa, yours truly, was knocked out of the holiday sleigh by a last-minute positive test for COVID-19.

The festive folks at Variety have organized two glitzy Winter Wonderland parties — Nov. 22 and 23 at the downtown Delta Hotel Winnipeg — in hopes of making a special holiday memory for more than 900 economically disadvantaged kids from seven Winnipeg schools.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Harmayra Side, grade one student from Brooklands School, talks to Amber Westra as Elsa at Variety’s annual Winter Wonderland party.

Dazzle fellow fans with loopy Grey Cup lore

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Dazzle fellow fans with loopy Grey Cup lore

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022

What with only one sleep left until the Big Game, it’s time for all you hardcore Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans to look in the mirror and ask yourselves a difficult question: Am I emotionally, physically and spiritually prepared to cheer my beloved Blue and Gold to victory against the despised Toronto Argonauts on Sunday in the 109th Grey Cup in Regina?

There’s little doubt most of you have stocked up on grease-containing snacks and enough cold beer to sink a battleship. But have you taken the time to steep yourselves in Grey Cup lore, especially the most wild and woolly moments involving the Bombers?

Sadly, I’m pretty sure the answer to that is a resounding “No!” But don’t worry, because Uncle Doug, a revered Canadian football historian, is here to get you up to speed on historically significant events that will maximize your enjoyment of Sunday’s game and help you dazzle other overstimulated fans with your knowledge of an iconic event that brings Eastern Canada and Western Canada together on a frozen field for the express purpose of beating each other’s brains out.

For starters, Sunday will mark the first time since the 1950 “Mud Bowl” that the Bombers and Argonauts will meet in a battle for the CFL’s Holy Grail. The truth is, even Uncle Doug was not alive back then, so let’s hop in our Google-fuelled time machine and see what happened.

Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Sunday will mark the first time since the 1950 “Mud Bowl” that the Bombers and Argonauts will meet in a battle for the CFL’s Holy Grail.

Love for CFL’s toothless Lions brings torment, taunting

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Love for CFL’s toothless Lions brings torment, taunting

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022

I was lounging on the couch in our den Monday afternoon when, suddenly and without warning, a text popped up on my cellphone.

“Go look out your living room window!” the cryptic message on my iPhone’s screen commanded.

When I peered out the window, my weary eyeballs were greeted by an obnoxious sign that had been hammered into our front yard.

“THE CUP LIVES HERE!” screamed the sign, which was adorned with a photo of the CFL’s Holy Grail, the Grey Cup, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ “#ForTheW” motto.

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022

I was lounging on the couch in our den Monday afternoon when, suddenly and without warning, a text popped up on my cellphone.

“Go look out your living room window!” the cryptic message on my iPhone’s screen commanded.

When I peered out the window, my weary eyeballs were greeted by an obnoxious sign that had been hammered into our front yard.

“THE CUP LIVES HERE!” screamed the sign, which was adorned with a photo of the CFL’s Holy Grail, the Grey Cup, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ “#ForTheW” motto.

I, for one, welcome our new feline overlord

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I, for one, welcome our new feline overlord

Doug Speirs 6 minute read Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out — my family is going to the dark side!

For the record, I am not suggesting we are switching our barbecue from charcoal briquettes to propane. Nor are we abandoning Coke in favour of Pepsi.

No, what I’m saying — and you might want to sit down before reading the last part of this sentence — is that we are getting a cat.

And when I say “we,” of course, I am referring to my daughter, Kayleigh, who this weekend is moving back to Winnipeg after spending several years working and living in northwestern Ontario.

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out — my family is going to the dark side!

For the record, I am not suggesting we are switching our barbecue from charcoal briquettes to propane. Nor are we abandoning Coke in favour of Pepsi.

No, what I’m saying — and you might want to sit down before reading the last part of this sentence — is that we are getting a cat.

And when I say “we,” of course, I am referring to my daughter, Kayleigh, who this weekend is moving back to Winnipeg after spending several years working and living in northwestern Ontario.

You can have my candy when you pry it out of my zombie hands

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You can have my candy when you pry it out of my zombie hands

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022

There are only two more sleeps until Halloween, and I think all you protective parents know exactly what that means, don’t you?

It means that it’s time to put down this newspaper, hop in your car, drive to the nearest grocery store and buy several metric tonnes of those miniature candy bars, because this is the first Halloween since most pandemic restrictions were put in the rearview mirror, which means there is an excellent chance you are going to be overwhelmed by a ravenous army of little ghouls and goblins, with the odd pint-sized Donald Trump impersonator thrown in for good measure.

This is also the scary time of year when parents are inundated with alarming news reports sporting headlines such as this one from NBC News: “Kids’ candy consumption on Halloween equals three cups of sugar, experts say.”

Or this gravely concerned example from Fox News: “Dentist shares best, worst Halloween candy for your teeth.”

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022

JUSTIN TANG / CANADIAN PRESS FILES

News reports this week stated that Halloween-loving Canadians will be coughing up more cash this year on treats to hand out to sugar-craving kids.

Once upon a time… a columnist turned into a puddle of goo

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Once upon a time… a columnist turned into a puddle of goo

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022

Grab a book and prepare to curl up on the carpet, kids, because today we are heading to the library for family storytime.

As a mostly retired crusading journalist, allow me to say that if you have never attended family storytime with a gaggle of munchkin-sized toddlers, then you are missing out on 20-pounds of excitement in a 10-pound bag.

I say this because, for the past five weeks, every Tuesday my wife and I have been taking our 14-month-old granddaughter, Ivy, for storytime sessions at the Osborne Library.

It is not easy, using mere words, to describe the ambience of family storytime, but I will give it the old college try: It is kind of like a cross between a kindergarten Christmas pageant and a European soccer riot, only with considerably more drool.

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022

Grab a book and prepare to curl up on the carpet, kids, because today we are heading to the library for family storytime.

As a mostly retired crusading journalist, allow me to say that if you have never attended family storytime with a gaggle of munchkin-sized toddlers, then you are missing out on 20-pounds of excitement in a 10-pound bag.

I say this because, for the past five weeks, every Tuesday my wife and I have been taking our 14-month-old granddaughter, Ivy, for storytime sessions at the Osborne Library.

It is not easy, using mere words, to describe the ambience of family storytime, but I will give it the old college try: It is kind of like a cross between a kindergarten Christmas pageant and a European soccer riot, only with considerably more drool.

It’s a dog-eat-remote-control world

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It’s a dog-eat-remote-control world

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022

In the high-pressure world of big-time journalism, your classic dog-bites-man story doesn’t grab many headlines.

On the other hand, there appears to be an endless appetite for stories about badly behaved dogs eating valuable items, forcing their owners to recover them via methods that put their personal hygiene at serious risk.

I have reported on dozens of stories detailing this disturbing canine trend.

For instance, a few years back I shared an alarming story about a Wisconsin woman named Lois Matykowski and her dog, Tucker. Matykowski had been sitting outside eating Popsicles with her granddaughter when she realized the child’s frozen treat had mysteriously vanished.

Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022

In the high-pressure world of big-time journalism, your classic dog-bites-man story doesn’t grab many headlines.

On the other hand, there appears to be an endless appetite for stories about badly behaved dogs eating valuable items, forcing their owners to recover them via methods that put their personal hygiene at serious risk.

I have reported on dozens of stories detailing this disturbing canine trend.

For instance, a few years back I shared an alarming story about a Wisconsin woman named Lois Matykowski and her dog, Tucker. Matykowski had been sitting outside eating Popsicles with her granddaughter when she realized the child’s frozen treat had mysteriously vanished.

Tables work their magic with dementia patients

Doug Speirs 7 minute read Preview

Tables work their magic with dementia patients

Doug Speirs 7 minute read Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022

Modern medicine can work wonders, but residents at Winnipeg’s Riverview Health Centre are discovering that a little magic can also transform the lives of people living with cognitive challenges.

Riverview is installing nine state-of-the-art Tovertafel — Dutch for “magic table” — a pioneering games system designed for use in dementia settings in its long-term care, chronic care and special needs and behaviours units.

The “magic tables” — each of which costs about $16,000 — feature a ceiling-mounted computerized console that projects interactive shapes and colourful animations onto a table, floor or any flat surface. Infrared sensors allow the players to physically manipulate the images through even the smallest movements of their hands or feet.

The Tovertafel’s games are intended to entertain, but their primary goal is therapeutic. Launched in 2015 by a Dutch medical technology company, these “magic tables” have shown promise in increasing physical activity as well as social interaction among residents with dementia and there is also evidence it decreases some of the negative behaviours associated with dementia, including apathy, restlessness, agitation, difficulty paying attention, personality changes and wandering.

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

‘I love them. I think they are going to add a lot of value and benefit and improve quality of life for our residents. I’ve already seen the difference’

— Resident care manager Jacqueline Reimer, on the new Tovertafel

It’s a dog-eat-pumpkin-spice world… and I’m wearing whipped-cream underwear

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It’s a dog-eat-pumpkin-spice world… and I’m wearing whipped-cream underwear

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022

For more than a decade, I have been using this column to rage against the ever-growing pumpkinification of North America.

In case you have been in a coma for about 19 years, I am referring here to the out-of-control trend wherein manufacturers of everything — from house paint to underarm deodorant — feel compelled to pump up their products with pumpkin spice.

In truth, the pumpkinizing of consumer items began when coffee giant Starbucks introduced its now-ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte in 2003, but in the years since this dangerous trend has become a runaway Pumpkin Spice freight train that threatens to turn everything in its path into a giant blob of pumpkin-pie-scented goo.

The fall has come to be defined not by crunchy leaves, wool sweaters and trick-or-treaters, but by the fact that the moment you walk outside in the weeks from September through November your nostrils are assaulted by the stench of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves.

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022

Hormel Foods released a pumpkin-spice version of Spam in 2019.

When it comes to style, I’m just playing ketchup

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When it comes to style, I’m just playing ketchup

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Sep. 24, 2022

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that, for most of my life, I have been a self-styled slob.

In fact, when it comes to haute couture, I am essentially the human equivalent of an unmade bed.

Like a lot of slovenly guys of my particular gender, I figured I was at the height of fashion if all the condiment stains on my golf shirts were roughly the same colour.

But prepare yourselves for a shock, stylish readers, because it turns out that all this time I have literally been on the cutting edge of fashion, a style guru who is clearly ahead of his time.

Saturday, Sep. 24, 2022

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that, for most of my life, I have been a self-styled slob.

In fact, when it comes to haute couture, I am essentially the human equivalent of an unmade bed.

Like a lot of slovenly guys of my particular gender, I figured I was at the height of fashion if all the condiment stains on my golf shirts were roughly the same colour.

But prepare yourselves for a shock, stylish readers, because it turns out that all this time I have literally been on the cutting edge of fashion, a style guru who is clearly ahead of his time.

Tims’ cookie campaign something to smile about

Doug Speirs 4 minute read Preview

Tims’ cookie campaign something to smile about

Doug Speirs 4 minute read Saturday, Sep. 17, 2022

When I reached Jane Kidd-Hantscher on her cellphone Wednesday morning, I could tell the executive director of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation wasn’t sitting behind her desk.

“I’m in my car,” she explained, laughing, “and, coincidentally, I’m in a Tim Hortons’ drive-thru. I knew you were going to call so I thought I’d get breakfast first.

The fact Kidd-Hantscher was making a pit stop at Tims was more than a little coincidental because I was calling her to discuss the launch of Tim Hortons’ 2022 Smile Cookie campaign, wherein the proceeds from every $1 chocolate-chunk Smile Cookie sold in the city from Monday, Sept. 19, until Sunday, Sept. 25, goes to the foundation to help pay for programs and specialized equipment for disabled children and youths up to the age of 21.

For the past eight years, the cookie campaign has helped the foundation raise cash for everything from adaptive bicycles and lightweight wheelchairs to iPads that help kids communicate with their families. Not to mention inclusive leisure programs such as art therapy, cooking clubs, music therapy, a Saturday Night for Teens club, and summer camps for children and youths with physical and developmental challenges.

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2022

DOUG SPEIRS / FREE PRESS FILES

Jane Kidd-Hantscher is the executive director of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.

Three dog nights over: Joy returns to Doug’s world

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Three dog nights over: Joy returns to Doug’s world

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022

Our three dog nights are about to end — and I could not be more relieved.

It’s not that I don’t like having three dogs living under the same roof; it’s just that I miss engaging in some of my favourite activities, such as sleeping.

For the record, my wife and I typically have two dogs in our home — a mildly cranky Maltese/Bichon cross named Bogey and an unhinged, toothless schnauzer/poodle cross named Juno.

For the past two weeks, however, we have been looking after a third canine in the form of Mark-Cuss, a seven-year-old poodle/Shar-Pei/Labrador mix. Mark-Cuss belongs to my sister-in-law, who has been away visiting family on the West Coast.

Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022

Our three dog nights are about to end — and I could not be more relieved.

It’s not that I don’t like having three dogs living under the same roof; it’s just that I miss engaging in some of my favourite activities, such as sleeping.

For the record, my wife and I typically have two dogs in our home — a mildly cranky Maltese/Bichon cross named Bogey and an unhinged, toothless schnauzer/poodle cross named Juno.

For the past two weeks, however, we have been looking after a third canine in the form of Mark-Cuss, a seven-year-old poodle/Shar-Pei/Labrador mix. Mark-Cuss belongs to my sister-in-law, who has been away visiting family on the West Coast.

Now matter how you slice it, bacon’s worth celebrating

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Preview

Now matter how you slice it, bacon’s worth celebrating

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022

Of all the special days on the calendar, today is arguably the most special of them all.

That is because today, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, along with being part of a beloved holiday weekend, just happens to be the day on which we pay tribute to the world’s most delicious breakfast food.

For those of you who have been hiding in a drainpipe all summer, what I’m trying to say is that today — prepare to begin drooling uncontrollably — is International Bacon Day.

I should stress that I am not making this day up, because when it comes to sizzling strips of salted pork, I do not kid around.

Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022

Of all the special days on the calendar, today is arguably the most special of them all.

That is because today, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, along with being part of a beloved holiday weekend, just happens to be the day on which we pay tribute to the world’s most delicious breakfast food.

For those of you who have been hiding in a drainpipe all summer, what I’m trying to say is that today — prepare to begin drooling uncontrollably — is International Bacon Day.

I should stress that I am not making this day up, because when it comes to sizzling strips of salted pork, I do not kid around.

Vancouver visit turns into Hitchcock meets Animal House

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Vancouver visit turns into Hitchcock meets Animal House

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022

It was a sweltering afternoon in Vancouver and I was doing what I do every time I visit the West Coast — sweating like a Butterball turkey on Thanksgiving.

I don’t want to complain, but the only thing I don’t enjoy about visiting Vancouver is that everyone who lives here believes that air conditioning is a violation of their constitutional right to be uncomfortable and perspire heavily.

My wife and I flew here to celebrate a major family milestone — my Great-Auntie Ann’s 102nd birthday, a party we couldn’t attend for the last two years because of the pandemic.

For the record, I enjoyed an extremely emotional reunion with my beloved great-aunt, the highlight of which came when we toasted our Scottish heritage with a wee dram of single-malt whisky.

Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022

It was a sweltering afternoon in Vancouver and I was doing what I do every time I visit the West Coast — sweating like a Butterball turkey on Thanksgiving.

I don’t want to complain, but the only thing I don’t enjoy about visiting Vancouver is that everyone who lives here believes that air conditioning is a violation of their constitutional right to be uncomfortable and perspire heavily.

My wife and I flew here to celebrate a major family milestone — my Great-Auntie Ann’s 102nd birthday, a party we couldn’t attend for the last two years because of the pandemic.

For the record, I enjoyed an extremely emotional reunion with my beloved great-aunt, the highlight of which came when we toasted our Scottish heritage with a wee dram of single-malt whisky.

Raising a glass to 102 great years of great-auntie Ann

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Raising a glass to 102 great years of great-auntie Ann

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022

I hate to brag, but here I am in Vancouver, sipping sangria in a hip and happening sidewalk café while soaking up the West Coast sunshine on a gorgeous late-summer day.

Out of journalistic fairness, I should confess that technically speaking, as I write these words I am, in fact, sitting in front of my home computer pounding out today’s column before heading to the airport to catch an early morning flight to the city where I grew up.

But that is not today’s point. No, today’s point is that, by the time you read these words — barring a last-minute cancellation — I will be in Vancouver sitting in a sidewalk café, staring at the mountains and thinking about my beloved B.C. Lions.

So, fingers crossed, I am here for the first time since the (bad word) pandemic pulled the rug out from under the world. For the record, I am here to celebrate an incredible family milestone — it was 102 years ago this week, on Aug. 16, 1920, that my great-auntie Ann was born.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022

DARRYL DYCK / CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Doug will be in Vancouver sitting in a sidewalk café, staring at the mountains and thinking about his beloved B.C. Lions.

One year of grandparenthood couldn’t feel finer

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One year of grandparenthood couldn’t feel finer

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

If you are wondering about that big, stupid grin plastered on my face, there’s a simple explanation.

I literally cannot stop smiling because on Friday, my wife Diane and I celebrated a major milestone.

This has nothing to do with the fact that we are both now retired, which means we are legally entitled to sit on our front porch in rocking chairs and yell at neighbourhood kids to “GET OFF OUR LAWN!!!”

It has everything to do with the fact that as of Friday, we have been grandparents for exactly one year. It is difficult, using mere words, to explain how wonderful it feels being a grandparent, but I will give it the old college try: It feels really, really wonderful!

Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

Supplied

Doug and his granddaughter, Ivy Ruth.

Cool level red-hot thanks to hand-me-down shades

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Cool level red-hot thanks to hand-me-down shades

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out — after spending 65 years on this planet, I have finally become a hip and happening sort of guy.

Allow me to stress this exciting development has nothing to do with a radical change in my personality, and everything to do with the fact that, for the first time in my life, I own a pair of sunglasses.

Q: Seriously, Doug, you’re getting all worked about something as trivial as owning a pair of sunglasses.

A: Yes. Allow me to explain.

Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

Canstar Community News

Doug has always felt that putting on a pair of sunglasses makes the following fashion statement: “Hey, look, I’m wearing sunglasses!”

A kayak? This landlubber’s good on the dock, thanks

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Preview

A kayak? This landlubber’s good on the dock, thanks

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

I was stretched out on the couch in the den the other morning when, suddenly and without warning, the dogs began barking at something on the other side of the living room window.

What with being a semi-retired crusading newspaper columnist, I bravely peered out the window, which is when I spotted a large cardboard box that had been deposited on our front porch.

“I wonder what that could be?” I muttered to the dogs, before wandering outside to retrieve the mysterious package, which I was hoping might contain something useful, like a year’s supply of frozen steaks for my barbecue.

Which is when my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, arrived at the front door and began burbling — even though she is not normally a burbler — with excitement.

Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

Golfer? Sure. I bucketed a birdie and an eagle just last week

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Golfer? Sure. I bucketed a birdie and an eagle just last week

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 23, 2022

For the record, I am not one of those people who always dreamed about honing his skills on the golf course after retiring.

No, I am one of those people who dreamed about perfecting his ability to relax on the couch in the den and lapse into a coma while watching hour after hour of the Weather Network.

The point is, even though I am now in a state of semi-retirement, I still get invited to participate in charity golf tournaments because I am the sort of person who is willing to accept free food and prizes for doing absolutely nothing.

It is not easy, using mere words, to describe how horrible I am at the game of golf, but I am willing to give it the old columnist try: I am really, really horrible at golf! It would make more sense for me to buy a dozen golf balls, drive to the nearest course, then stand on the first tee and throw them into the woods without going to all the expense of shelling out for a cart and green fees.

Saturday, Jul. 23, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / FREE PRESS FILES
If, by some pure stroke of luck, Doug does make contact with the ball, it will careen wildly into the trees like an injured woodland creature never to be seen again.

An inspiring story to elevate the soul, rung by rung

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An inspiring story to elevate the soul, rung by rung

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022

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.”

Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022

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.”

Sit! Stay! Fetch a new future for dogs!

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Preview

Sit! Stay! Fetch a new future for dogs!

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 9, 2022

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.

Saturday, Jul. 9, 2022

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.

War of stumping stumps will have many battles

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Preview

War of stumping stumps will have many battles

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

My mother knew absolutely nothing about gardening, but for reasons that no one fully understood she was on a mission to fill our backyard with one of every kind of tree in the known universe, even if these trees were never intended to withstand the bitter cold of a Winnipeg winter.

The point is three of these trees finally gave up the ghost this year, and my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, is not the sort of person to let a dead tree rest in peace, so to speak.

Which is why she asked my buddy Bob — who along with being the publisher of this newspaper owns his own chainsaw — to drop by and chop them down, which he did Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, when Bob arrived, he discovered that his chainsaw refused to start, eventually forcing my buddy to confess that he had no idea what the problem was, hang his head, and return home in defeat.

Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN FILES
The Battle of the Back Yard Stumps has just begun.

Heroism, not mine, saves day from pizza inferno

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Heroism, not mine, saves day from pizza inferno

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022

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.

Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022

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.

Workplace pet perks could help staff sit — and stay

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Preview

Workplace pet perks could help staff sit — and stay

Doug Speirs 5 minute read Saturday, Jun. 18, 2022

Canadian companies struggling to fetch workers back to the office post-pandemic would be well advised to enlist the services of a retriever — or any other dog breed, for that matter.

That’s just one of the findings from a new report, The Future of Work: Dog Friendly Companies, says rover.com, a website that touts itself as the world’s largest and most trusted network of five-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

The survey of 500 Canadian dog owners, conducted last month, revealed the soaring rate of canine adoptions during the pandemic has made employees more reluctant to abandon their home offices and return to in-person workplaces.

“With millions of pets welcomed into our families over the last couple of years, it’s understandable that folks are genuinely concerned about returning to the office and what that means for their pets — from separation anxiety to finding pet care they can rely on,” Rover’s Kate Jaffe barked in a release that landed in my inbox.

Saturday, Jun. 18, 2022

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES
Forty-nine per cent of dog owners surveyed said the top motivator for returning to the office is the ability to bring their canine companions with them.