Horses and hamsters and … peacocks, oh my?
Brian and Jayme Robison's ranch is a modern-day menagerie. And on certain days, "circus" might like a more apt word to the former Vikings defensive end.
After spending 11 seasons with the Vikings, during which he played 173 games (103 starts) and totaled 60 sacks, Brian pivoted to whole-heartedly support Jayme's career as not only a professional barrel racer but as the co-owner of Miller-Robison Performance Horses.
The Robisons last year built their home in Bellville, Texas, and along with it a massive barn that currently houses 60-plus horses.
While Brian doesn't do much riding himself, he says he does enjoy the horses – contrary to what Jayme might believe.
View photos of Vikings legend Brian Robison and his animals in this edition of Purple Pups.
"I know my wife will argue with me because I always give her heck for it – because it's quite costly to own horses," he quipped. "[But] I do go out there periodically – Jayme doesn't know it all the time, but I go out there, and I'll pet them, and I'll give them treats. I'm the treat guy. So when I come around, it's like, 'This guy's got treats; we need to butter him up a little bit.'
"But yeah, I love them and love that [she loves them]," Brian added. "She's grown up with it, she's done it since she was 3 or 4 years old, and I'd give her anything I could."
In addition to the horses – including 12 foals; brood mares; Jayme's barrel racers and Spirit, who belongs to Brian and Jayme's daughter, Madelyn – the Robisons have nearly every type of pet one could imagine.
There's Hammy the Hamster, a little guy who is owned, loved and affectionately named by 6-year-old Parker Robison. They have fish ("of course," says Brian the angler), goats, chickens and even miniature ponies. There's Layla the Savannah cat, who joined the family last December shortly after the family mourned the loss of Honey Bun the rabbit. Maddy and Parker each have a kitten, and Parker spends most evenings searching for frogs in the warm Texas twilight.
And don't forget the peacocks.
Why would one own peacocks, exactly?
"I don't know, but if anybody wants them, they are more than welcome to message me, and I will gladly give them away," Brian laughed. "They are annoying. Very beautiful birds. Listen – no doubt about it, the attraction to them is how pretty they are with their feathers and stuff like that. It's not an understatement. But they are annoying. They get on everything, they poop on everything, they make these loud noises in the morning and at night.
"They've got to have a place to roost, so if you don't put them in a cage or something like that – which, they're free-range here – they get on the house, they get on the balcony, so they're a mess. They really are," he added with exaggerated exasperation. "I love them, but they're a mess."
The Robisons are animal lovers through-and-through, which means they're also dog owners.
Brian conducted this particular virtual interview in the company of the family's two canines: Sadie, a chocolate Lab; and Drake, a black English Lab. Sadie belongs to Jayme and is named after her previous chocolate Lab who passed away. Drake, a bird-hunting pup named after a mallard duck, is Brian's right-hand dog.
It didn't start out that way, though.
Brian recalled years ago attending a Sheriff's Youth Program auction in Le Sueur, Minnesota, with Jayme and former Vikings teammate Pat Williams. While at the auction, Jayme caught sight of the black pup for sale.
"Jayme had been talking about how she wanted this dog … and Pat ended up buying the dog," Brian laughed. "[And] oh no, he didn't hand it to me – he handed it straight to Jayme. He knew what he was doing. He was going to rub it in my face and give [the puppy] to my wife.
"Which, hey, I was OK with it," Brian added. "But yeah, Drake ended up becoming my dog. He's a great bird hunter. He's 11 years old now, so he's getting up there in age, and we don't get out as much as we used to. He's a great dog."
The two dogs' personalities differ as much as demeanors within a locker room. The Vikings locker room, to be more specific.
"Oh, goodness. Sadie would remind me of Jaleel Johnson," Brian answered when posed with the challenge. "Because – and I mean this in the best of ways, Jaleel – she gets kind of lazy, she likes to stay in the kitchen. … But then in the mornings, in the evenings, she gets super hyper. She likes to run around with her tail tucked between her legs and play with you and jump on you and things like that. So yeah, I would say Jaleel Johnson."
"He's like the calm vet presence. So I would say maybe like a Harry?" Brian said, referencing Vikings safety Harrison Smith. "He's not going to bark, he's not going to talk about it – he's just going to go out and do it and kind of mosey around and do his deal, and he's A-OK with that."
A life-long dog owner, Brian swears by the "man's best friend" adage and can guarantee there always will be pups on the ranch. Along with everything else, of course.
"We've had a lot of animals that have come through," he smiled. "I'm sure with Christmas coming up, we'll add another one to the list."
Brian then leaned forward and whispered: "The kids can't hear this, but I think we're talking about a zebra. We'll see."