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Archive for the ‘our hero’ Category

Kudos are in order: our friend Shari and her superstar Australian Kelpie Ozzie won “High scoring started dog” and “High Scoring Combined Other Breed” at the Australian Shepherd Club herding trial in Arlington, Washington last weekend! Shari tells us, “Ozzie was a Champion this weekend in Herding and handled & penned the most skittish sheep I’ve ever seen!” The great Ozzie is already an agility champion, and herding is just her latest challenge—“We’re hooked!” Shari adds.

Shari & her husband William also owned the unforgettable Australian Kelpie Nick Nick, one of our all-time favorite canines, and a champion both in the arena and in our hearts.

Here’s a photo of Ozzie when she was just starting her herding career — nothing quite like that Kelpie intensity!

Congrats, Ozzie & Shari!!!!!!!     xoxoxoxo  Cooper & Swirl

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Nearly 100 years ago, the Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Brit Robert Falcon Scott raced to the South Pole, with much of their burden shouldered by brave sledge dogs. Thanks to U.S. Air Force Col. Ronald J. Smith, the former commander of Operation Deep Freeze which supports Antarctic research, names of those heroic dogs–like Helge and Urroa–will mark points on the aeronautical charts used every day by pilots navigating between New Zealand and Antarctica. The Colonel wanted recognition of the important canine role (& in most cases, their ultimate sacrifice) in exploration of the most southern continent.

Cooper says, “Thanks, Colonel Smith! Those great dogs gave their all.”

Check out an entire article on this honor, from the Sept. 28, 2010 New York Times.

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Cooper had such a doggone good time when he interviewed Kelso, aka Special K, he could hardly wait to talk with Kelso’s big bro, Domino. Those 2 lucky dogs have such an active life with their Mum, Andrea (she’s an authentic dog whisperer!), that it took a while to catch the devastatingly handsome Domino with a spare moment. Let’s just say, that when Coop & Dom got started, they didn’t want the fun to end!

Cooper: Jeepers, creepers, Domino, where’d you get those peepers?

Domino: They came free with my tuxedo suit! Many folks think they’re my best feature… but not those neighborhood kids who came to visit one day. They saw my eyes and ran away screaming!

Cooper: Ha! Wish I’d seen that! What’s your story, you handsome creature?

Domino: Well, as pound pups, we don’t like to talk about our “before” lives. Suffice to say I was a young buck out on the streets starving, dirty and cold, and ended up finding the loop of an animal control officer’s catch pole. A few hours later, shivering in a chilly, loud cage, I looked up and saw…. my new Mom! She said I looked like a starved cow with my bones and spotted coat, but adopted me anyways.

Cooper: You lucky dog! What do you love best about your forever home?

Domino: When I first moved in, I liked the mirrors and door springs. They were so fascinating! Now, I like Mom; warm, comfy beds; my toys; and regular meals. In that order.

Cooper: Tell me about your very important job, Dom…

Domino: I’m a licensed therapy dog, and let me tell you, it is truly a calling – 24-7 and no vacations! My main job is to keep Mom’s blood pressure at a healthy level. I jump in her lap and roll around and act silly until she laughs, then I push my head under her hand until she pets me and de-stresses. This is exacting work – many dogs try this as amateurs – but I’m a trained professional! I encourage her to exercise – upper body workouts (throwing my toys) and cardio (taking me for walks). I also like to take Mom to visit our local senior home. Every Saturday when she goes to pick up her keys and my leash, I do my happy dance. I love going and seeing all my peeps!

Cooper: I’d sure like a therapy dog gig — any advice?

Domino: First, no biters allowed, little Coopster! When you master that you, too, can study hard and join this honorable profession… It’s SO rewarding! When folks see me, they holler “DOMINO!” Of course, they’ll holler your name, and that’s when you need to start doing a happy dance! When your owner lets go of the leash, run to them–that makes them feel happy. Then you sit down (still do the happy dance if you can), and smile at them. Then let them pet you.

Cooper: Gee, I think I do that naturally!

Domino: But the real trick, Coop, is to work the crowd so no one feels left out. Make sure everyone has a ‘hello’ and a pet! And take note: Many of them have treats, and they’ll give you lots of treats if you do a few tricks.

Cooper: This is so much fun, Domino, could we continue this interview tomorrow?

Domino: Sure–I have loads more good stories to tell… like the one bout Miss Ann! That’ll give me time to snooze with my favorite duck pillow… there’s room for you on the couch, too, Super Coop! zzzz……

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Isn’t this a charming family portrait? “On a scale of 1-to-10, it’s an 11!” Cooper says…

Found in a friend’s old photo album, these two vintage photos are captioned: Alaskan dogs–Mt. McKinley Park, Alaska… 1930.

This proud canine family, perhaps a mix of Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, are probably descended from an original working sled dog, which recent DNA research confirms is among the oldest of dogs. Pound-for-pound, they are the most powerful pulling animals on earth, able to maintain speeds of 8- to 12-miles-per hour for literally hundreds of miles.

Essential partners for life in the far North, these darling little pups would grow up to pull sleds with laden with people, goods and mail. In 1925, a devastating diphtheria epidemic hit Alaska, and sled dog teams and their mushers delivered life-saving medicine to Nome, Alaska, from Nenana–almost 700 miles distant. Despite 80-mph-winds and temperatures of 40-below, an heroic lead dog named Balto brought the precious cargo in, and saved many lives.

“He was a national hero!” says Cooper, and he’s right. Today, in New York City’s Central Park there is a statue in Balto’s honor, and a plaque that states:

Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of 1925.  Endurance · Fidelity · Intelligence


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Years ago, when our neighbor’s young German Shepherd left to enter military school, we were reminded that dogs have bravely served alongside their masters and mistresses for centuries… Of course, most did not have the benefit of intense special training that our youthful friend had.

Some, like Rags (above) strayed into their destiny… Rags was a Cairn Terrier–a French pup who met the U. S. 1st Infantry Division in France in 1917. He quickly overcame any language barrier, and volunteered to relay messages along the front lines, doing his duty although bombs often rained down all around him. Rags served bravely, even after he was partially blinded by gas. He returned to the U.S. with his military family, whom he continued to devote his considerable energies to, for the rest of his long life. Cooper says, “A wag of the tail to you, Rags! Merci!”


Little bright-eyed Smoky (above) was 4-pounds of pluck and goodwill, who was discovered in a New Guinea jungle in 1944 by an American G.I. No powder puff, the diminutive Yorkie lived a soldiers’ life with Corporal William Wynne for the next 2 years. She scoffed at the thought that dogs are afraid of heights (humbug!), and flew a dozen rescue and reconnaissance missions. In camp, when her sizable ears detected enemy planes coming, she’d bark a warning to Wynne; they survived 150 air raids. After the war, tiny Smoky stowed away inside an oxygen mask case and flew to the States, where, for the next decade, she shared her joy in living with wounded veterans, and helped them heal. The Coopster says, “Thanks, little Smoky, for your great, big heart! You’re good therapy!”

And then, there was Stubby, who famously served in WWI. He, too, strayed into his future when he wandered onto a playing field at Yale University, perhaps looking for some easy-going fun. Instead, he found the 102nd Infantry doing exercises, and decided to join up, on the spot! He allied himself with Corporal J. Robert Conroy. Together, they served on the front lines in France, where an alert Stubby captured a German spy by chomping on the seat of his baggy britches. Grrrrr….. Don’t mess with Stubby! This brave Pit Bull was awarded many medals and eventually met three (!) Presidents, but his real reward was Mr. Conroy’s lifelong devotion.

“My heroes,” Cooper says, with awe. “A wag of the tail and our eternal gratitude to you!” When Stubby died in 1926, The New York Times published a memorable obituary of this brave pooch.

So, on this Memorial Day 2010, Cooper and Swirl honor all the brave men and women, living and dead, who have served with such generosity of spirit. And a wag of the tail to their steadfast 4-legged friends, who faithfully serve at their side.

Heroes all.

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Ivan is a Cookie Monster (OK, obviously). He is a cherished member of Wayne and Jan’s family, and an alpha dog with the confident swagger that comes with being numero uno in line for cookies. He’s a playful tease, who loves walks and rides in the car. And did we mention, cookies? Most of all, Ivan is a Happy Dog.

Ivan is also completely blind. However, you could spend a significant amount of time with Ivan before you realized it. Cooper asks, “What’s your story, Mister Incredible?”

When Ivan was just 6-months-old, alert passersby scooped up the blind puppy from a busy Seattle street, and seriously increased his life expectancy. They brought Ivan to a shelter.

At the same time, Wayne and his wife, who always had owned and showed Rottweilers (he’s the breed rep for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue), decided to learn more about Pit Bulls. They wondered, what would it be like to live with one?

Their futures converged, when Ivan went home with Wayne—just temporarily, of course, until a suitable adoptive family could be found… (spoiler alert: The family wasn’t quite so far away as Wayne thought!)

He soon noticed that Ivan had an enormous zest for life; Ivan and his favorite toy were always ready for a tug-o-war! Such youthful exuberance and puppy joy! How infectious!

“Well, not always,” grumbled their aged, 130 lb. Rottweiler, Bear.

Meanwhile, Wayne took Ivan to the vet, and learned that the Pit Bull’s blindness was probably caused by a virus his mother contracted, which stopped development of his optic nerves. It was irreversible. But don’t tell Ivan! This dog is high on life!

Wayne and Jan fell in love with Ivan’s gregarious nature. The outgoing pup was generous with his happiness–tho he shared it with everyone he met, he always had more to give. They marveled at how easily he would assess his physical environment and adjust to it. Of course, he knew every twist and turn of their home by heart. “We just had to remember to close all the lower kitchen cupboard doors,” Wayne says, suppressing a little chuckle. You’ve gotta smile.

Ivan’s second birthday came, and after all the doggie treats were polished off by Ivan the Cookie Monster, Wayne and Jan realized that the sweet pup had become an irreplaceable member of their family. They didn’t need to find him a home–Ivan was home.

This summer, Ivan will celebrate his fourth birthday, and with the newest addition to the family, Merlin, he’ll show proper respect to the chef, by devouring all his cookie treats. And Ivan will continue to show Merlin the ropes, so to speak.

So, if you happen to meet a happy-go-lucky, Red-Nosed Pit Bull, and his dog tag reads, ‘I can’t see you,’ please give Ivan our best regards. “Of course, we think that Ivan sees life quite clearly,” says Super Cooper sagely. “He’s incredible! Ivan makes pound pups everywhere proud!”

Ivan’s photos courtesy Swirl’s hero, Wayne

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Once there was a Collie–we’ll call Taffy, for her golden-hued coat–who struggled with a life that was anything but golden. She’d been abandoned in a park in central Washington state. She scavenged to find food, but it was never enough and as days turned into weeks, her body became gaunt; her once-beautiful coat, dirty and matted. A woman with a small rescue group learned of the Collie, and went to her aid. Things were about to get a lot better for our girl.

“When they called to ask if we could take her, they had already given her a bath and pretty much shaved off her coat,” says Steve Thein, the Collie breed rep for the Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, whose motto is, Where second hand dogs give first class love. “She was just skin and bones, but very very sweet.” For every mile of the long ride to Steve’s home, Taffy rested her head on his shoulder.

Steve and his wife, Kim, live with their six Collies, and at any time, numerous foster dogs. Although he’d been assured that Taffy had just given birth, he couldn’t help but wonder… really? He took her to his vet, who smiled and said, “Let’s just take an x-ray.” And sure enough, the film revealed seven puppies! And they were due any day… Steve, who’d planned to leave on a vacation, canceled it. He was on puppy watch. And he called in reinforcements: Judy Byrd, another SPDR guardian angel.

They didn’t have to wait long: four days later, at 10p.m., Taffy went into labor. It was soon apparent to them, however, that Taffy was weakened from her ordeal, and she would need a vet to help the birth. At 2a.m., the vet began an emergency cesarean delivery. After six squirming pups were born and rubbed-down by Steve and Judy, they thought they were done… No! There were three more!

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Steve says. “And Taffy was a fabulous mother. The pups each weighed 13 oz. at birth, and they all could fit into one little shoe box!” Of course, that was soon outgrown, as at first they gained a pound-per-week, and later, 1.5 pounds each and every week.

“It was lots of fun!” Steve says. “But no one warned us how much nine puppies poop or how many wee pads we’d go through!” Taffy was fed 4x a day, and when her pups were four-weeks-old, Steve supplemented their diet with Gerbers rice cereal and goats’ milk. With NINE puppies, there wasn’t a dull moment at the Thein household!

At about 6-weeks, the puppies developed a little curl in their tails… Was that a clue to their parentage? Echoing new parents everywhere, Steve says, “We didn’t care what they were, we were just happy that they were so healthy.” As adoptive families were screened, Judy–invaluable throughout–prepared the puppies’ dowry: Each puppy left for their new life with a baby blanket, puppy food and–perhaps most importantly–a tuft of Taffy’s golden hair.

One extraordinary family fell in love with Taffy, adopted her, then returned to adopt one of her handsome sons. Another excited new puppy-mom did a DNA test, which revealed that the father was a Siberian Husky… And then, they were gone, into a bright & shining future. With all the kids gone from the nest, did it seem a just little too quiet, Steve?

“The experience was worth it’s weight in gold,” he says. “I’ll always treasure the memory of of those nine little guys coming into the world, and what a great mom Taffy was.” Swirl says, “A wag of the tail to Steve, Kim and Judy!”

Photos courtesy Cooper’s hero, Steve Thein. Thanks!

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