Archive for the ‘puppy’ Category

Swirl knows it.

Ivan the Incredible knows it.

Certainly, little Precious knows it….

“It’s not for nothing that good dogs don’t wear watches. They’re on dog time, which seems the best time of all.” ~Joe Murray

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Cooper and Swirl’s pound pup-loving friends Ria & Don looked thru his Grandpa’s memory album over the weekend, and found some incredible vintage photos from a visit to Alaska during the 1930s. That lucky Alaskan Malamute (above) even has his own log cabin! Cooper says, “That must’ve been snug when the North Wind blew!”

This charming vintage photo of three beautiful little girls and their best pups captures a moment in time… We wonder what the future held for those young girls. Are they wise, cherished elders today? Do relatives of those little pups still toil by the side of the families of those girls? We hope their futures were bright! Sometimes vintage photos tell a story; sometimes they leave more questions behind than answers.

What we do know for sure, is that Alaskan dogs were indispensable to the lives of Native Alaskans and the adventurers and explorers who found their way to the Great North. Images of their sled dogs are iconic, and stories of the dogs’ strength and courage are legend.

It’s interesting that the best sled dogs weren’t the biggest, but usually mixed-breed, 50-pound athletes, with an instinctive desire to pull, and a natural curiosity to see what was around the next corner. While our backyard pups easily thrive on 1,500 calories-per-day, a working sled dog can down 10,000 calories-per-day, just to maintain his high-energy output.

And here’s a thought: Cooper reveals, “Many sled dogs have sensitive feet, and in a long trek, they wear fleece-lined booties to protect their pads. Each bootie lasts about 100 miles, and a dog team might use 2,000 booties in just one long trek! Wow! We’re glad owners take such great care of their dogs.”

Thanks for sharing your vintage photos, Ria & Don, and honoring those remarkable Alaskan dogs. Here are more great vintage photos of Alaskan dogs from an earlier post on http://CooperAndSwirl.com

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Cooper’s great friends, Alice and Tish, are lovingly cared for by a petite dynamo, appropriately named ‘Precious.’ Just look at her soulful & sincere puppy gaze….

“Obviously, taking time off from reading her morning paper,” Cooper observes, “to pose for the shutterbug. Smart cookie! Even at rest, she’s always listening…”

Cooper reconsiders, “Well, almost always…. ” Swirl smiles, “Now, that’s Precious!”

When Alice and Tish sent these special pix, they also mused how our 4-leged family and friends help create a ” …houseful of love.  The best thing about animals seems to be the unconditional love… We need to pass it along… Wouldn’t the world be a much better place?”

“You’re right!” the Coopster says emphatically. “And we love that little Precious.”

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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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Cooper and Swirl’s friend, Alice, was inspired to browse through her treasured old photos, and found this timeless image of a boy and his dog. It was taken in 1935, and as her Grandpa (quiet & kind in his overalls) looked on, her Uncle Neal posed with his beloved dog. The whirlwind of energy that is a boy and his dog, was captured forever. Their momentum looks barely stopped, and we’ll bet that a heartbeat after the camera’s shutter clicked, those two conspirators were off and running!

The family lived on a farm in the beautiful mountains of northern Alabama, near the Tennessee border, where there were endless opportunities for a boy and his dog to find adventure–and we imagine that they did! We love this vintage photo–A wag of the tail to our friend Alice, for sharing!

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We love, love old photos, and the glimpse they offer into days gone by… Just look at those ernest children, in their Sunday best–and their terrier, like them, without even a single grass-stain on his handsome white coat! One of our fav design blogs, the sartorialist, has recently celebrated dashing & fanciful style thru the last century in vintage photos… Inspired, we reacquainted ourselves with dusty, old family albums, and were delighted at how many photos featured the family dog, front and center.

We’re not even sure who or where these folks are—the picture has ‘postcard’ printed on the back, but perhaps that was how pictures were developed early in the last century? We’d like to know these earnest people & their serious, contemplative pup. After their pose for the camera, did they relax to smile (breathe again) and enjoy some iced tea or throw a ball for their fine terrier?

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then, “… read on to meet Taffy, and her unexpected gift to her rescuers.”

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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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