Archive for the ‘wag of the tail’ Category

Nearly a dozen years ago, we met Cindy Rackley as part of a big story for Horse & Rider magazine on ‘animal communicators,’ and discovered that Cindy was trained in many alternative healing therapies for both people and pets, such as reiki and homeopathy. For years, she’s also been deeply involved with the Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in California.

So, it came as little surprise that her son, Cody Rackley, would be the co-founder–with Jill Anderson–of something as grand as Shadow’s Fund and the Sheltering Oak Sanctuary, a rescue organization devoted to senior dogs and other canines whose sad fate leads them to crowded shelters with a slim chance of adoption.

Shadow’s Fund is named for that smiling senior citizen pictured in this post, who was abandoned by his owners after he’d given them 15 years of devoted service.

No way!” Cooper says. But wait–this has a happy ending, little Coop…

Cody and Jill brought Shadow into their family, and he brought them the mellow companionship and understanding heart that senior dogs just seem to acquire over the years. Here’s a link to their tribute to Shadow–and as our friend Priscilla would say, we double-dog-dare you to watch it without a getting a little ‘sand’ in your eye…

And so Cooper and Swirl would like to thank Cody and Jill for their determination and steadfast devotion to all critters who are down on their luck, thru absolutely no fault of their own. We support you, 100%!

“A wag-of-the-tail to Cody and Jill, and Shadow’s Fund!” says the Coopster.

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Recently, our friends at 2 Brown Dawgs bestowed upon us a special honor, when they shared their Stylish Blogger Award with us at CooperAndSwirl…. “Hey, Thanks!” sez Super Coop.

We have just two things to say:

“Happy Birthday Thunder!” says Swirl. “He’s 1 (very handsome) Brown Dog.”

And we’re honored to be a part of a very talented blogging scene, that constantly involves, informs and incites loads of laughter and fun. We can help create a more dog-passionate Universe, by putting one paw in front of the other …

So, Thanks!

“Does this mean we get treats?” asks Cooper.

Sure, and it means we get to pass the honor on, which we are delighted to do, very soon…..




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When we left the Wright family’s two white puffs of fluff, they were waiting for their adventurous siblings to return from a day in the Oregon woods… Watching and waiting….

Then like clockwork and just in time for dinner, came Tahoe, the hi-energy, Shepherd with a penchant for eating everything plastic (“Perhaps it’s a teething thing,” Cooper suggests). Tahoe is young and impulsive and very well intentioned, but even NINE obedience classes haven’t distracted her from all things plastic… like, 100-feet of soaking hose, 3 kennel mats and the mud flaps on the family truck—all snack material for the ravenous girl… Hmmmm, she’s licking her lips–has anyone seen our plastic water bottle?

And then there’s Oakley, a love bug Retriever if there ever was one. No matter, that unlike 99-percent of his fellow Retrievers, Oakley doesn’t retrieve and he doesn’t like water  😉  He is patience personified, and like a doggie Zen master, Oakley waits for the world to come to him… And it usually does—bearing treats!  Good Dogs!

Cooper says, “A wag of the tail to our very special friends in Oregon!”

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In 2006, our friend Vicki decided the timing was perfect to open her heart and her home to a 4-legged senior citizen. A savvy dog-lover involved in rescue, she knew that when elderly dogs are surrendered to shelters, they’re often the least likely to be adopted, even tho they have a wealth to offer. So, she sought a vintage pooch. “You rock, girlfriend!” Cooper exclaims.

When Vicki skedaddled to PAWS in Lynnwood, Washington, a dazzling, blond bombshell of Golden Retriever/Spaniel heritage batted her long eyelashes in our friend’s direction. Imagine Mae West of the canine persuasion… Vicki was a goner. Scooty’s gentle spirit was impossible to resist. The pooch played a little hard-to-get, but her heart just couldn’t deny it: They were made for each other. “I knew it!” says the Coopster. “We’re on our way to a doggone happy ending!”

There was one issue, however, that this new family unit had to settle on the ride home. Scooty, 11, had never met a doggie treat she didn’t like–no, love. “Her claims of starvation must’ve persuaded her previous owner,” Vicki says. The evidence was indisputable: Scooty had a body mass index that would qualify her for a canine Biggest Loser production… Time for a diet! “Brussel sprouts are about to become your best friends,” Scooty was told, in no uncertain terms. (“Mom, please don’t get any ideas,” Coop says.)

Scooty’s fitness routine included long walks and weekly swims at a local dog-friendly spa. Nice dog-paddle! And even tho her blond coat shed golden tumbleweeds all over the house, Vicki didn’t mind. Her Scooty was a treasure–an Angel in Fur! Amiable and affectionate but never clingy (hear that Swirl?), she’d spend lazy days watching the world go by from the porch—that is, when she wasn’t digging a comfy, cool pothole in the garden, to nest in on toasty-warm days. She even liked Rico the cat.

In 2 years, Scooty went from 68 pounds to a svelte 43, and regained lost stamina. Vicki also adopted another senior pooch, Ernie, a jaunty little Beagle mix. On Halloween, Scooty dressed as an angel (of course!) and that scallawag Ernie swaggered in a pirate costume, for trick-or-treating at a local nursing home. Senior-2-senior outreach: Oh, the fun they had! It was grand.

Years passed, quickly–as they do when you are having the best of times. Life was good and full and everything it should be with such special pups. Then, when Scooty was just weeks away from her 15th birthday, she took leave of this good earth, to become a real Angel. “I wouldn’t trade those 4 years with Scooty for a whole lifetime with another dog,” Vicki says. “She was a friend who made me a better person.”
Cooper says, “A wag of the tail to senior dogs and to Vicki, a remarkable lady who appreciates the rare joy they have to offer.”
Very Special photos courtesy Vicki Holt. Thanks!

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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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For Cooper’s latest interview feature, Speak!  he chats up Uno Mas Cerveza a sassy, young Sheltie that takes care of Phil and Ann of Myers Horse Farm, and their famous Quarter Horse stallion, Zips Chocolate Chip, aka Chip. Since Chip’s birthday falls on May 5th–fiesta day, Cinco de Mayo–there’s a lot of celebrating at the farm in May. And for a lively pup with a name like Cerveza (his older sisters’s name is Tequila!) every day is a fiesta…. Ole!

Cooper: How’d you get that radically cool name, Cerveza?
Cerveza: I’m proudly upholding Myers’ family tradition. Once-upon-a-time, Ann had a Sheltie named Budweiser. His color was like a golden beer, and he had a big white collar that looked like the foamy head on a beer. I look a lot like him, so, they named me Uno Mas Cerveza (One More Beer!), as a wag of the tail to him and to honor Chip’s Cinco de Mayo birthday, too.
Cooper: What’s with that gorgeous sombrero?
Cerveza: You know Ann–she loves her props. I’m just lucky she didn’t dress me up in a chocolate chip cookie costume!
Cooper: Must admit, a sombrero is quite the dashing accessory!
Cerveza: Everyone–Chip, Tequila, even the cat–was trying to show me how to wear it… Personally, I think blue is Tequila’s color.
Cooper: Speaking of Chip, what’s that famous Zips Chocolate Chip really like?
Cerveza: Awesome! We play dress-up a lot, and he really looks swashbuckling in a sombrero, don’t you think, Cooper? Ole!
Cooper: Who’s dat cat, little Cerveza?
Cerveza: Gunner, he’s 20-years-old and quite the party animal. (Tho please note, Cooper, that Gunner has obvious sombrero issues, too!)
Cooper: Tell us a little bout your job at Myers Horse Farm…
Cerveza: My job is to herd yearling colts. OK, OK, most of the time they just stand and look at me through the dog fence, but I work really hard, that is, unless I’m napping… zzzzzz….
Cooper: Hey, wake up, pint-sized pup! Just two more questions, baby face!
Cooper: What do Ann & Phil love most about you?
Cerveza: I think what attracted them at first, was my cute factor–it’s off the charts! But now it’s my devotion that really tugs at their heartstrings. (sigh)
Cooper: Are you old enough to have a motto, o-youthful-one? Please share!
Cerveza: Life is a Fiesta! Ole!
Ridiculously cute photos courtesy Zips Chocolate Chip. Thanks, Chip!

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