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Posts Tagged ‘life’

They’re cute. They’re in your backyard. And they can be deadly to your Best Friend. In the Northwest, raccoons weighing as much as a hefty 50 pounds, present a distinct threat to even large dogs that surprise a masked mama and her youngsters.

And fact is, those rascal raccoons are in the backyard at our invitation: They just naturally gravitate to the food left on the back porch for an outside cat… or their amazingly dextrous hands work through the autumn vegetable garden and compost pile for scraps, or they dine on apples, fallen from trees. If a crawl space in accessible, they’ve been known to set up housekeeping in those cozy, dry places.

Our Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife reports that 90% of their requests for help with pesky wildlife are for raccoons. Not only are dogs and cats in jeopardy in an attack, but owners are often bitten breaking up the mele, requiring rabies shots.

This mama & child showed up at Cooper’s house. While only 10′ away from us on the porch, they seemed quite unconcerned by our presence, even while Cooper barked from safety inside. Were they looking for seeds, from the bird feeder above?

After snapping pix, we clanged cowbells to ward them off. The youngster started to climb the cedar, whilst mama arched her back & grumbled her displeasure. It was a strong protective stance, and ’twas easy to imagine her standing her ground to a dog. Then, they ambled off–joined by TWO less brave youths from the bushes…

We’re a bit more cautious on our nightly outings now. It’s a thrill to live where woodland creatures abound, but a little caution can keep everyone out of trouble.

 

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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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It’s in the fine print of the contract when we bring these earnest, joyfilled creatures into our lives: that in all probability, one day they’ll take their leave of this Good Earth, while we remain behind to juggle memories, an empty food bowl, a broken heart… We live with that fine print, because life with dogs is just so darn good, we cannot imagine it without their glorious company.

Nevertheless, we shed tears recently when Kelso, one of Cooper’s Cocker Cousins in the Lone Star State, lost his battle with the serious health challenges that had plagued him for months. He’d downright amazed his vet by holding the symptoms at bay for so long. His happy-go-lucky attitude and his fabulous mom, Andrea, an editor for the AQHA Journal magazine (and your basic backyard genius with critters) were a big part of his ability to live many more happy days than anyone could have reasonably hoped for. Of course, his Cocker brother, Domino, cheered him on, too.

We’ll always remember the doggone joy and exuberance he personified, and the fun Cooper had interviewing him for this blog (click here to read the whole Speak! interview here). Here’s a bit of Kelso’s Wisdom: “Perfect happiness is love, whether that’s being cuddled up with my person, or eating a bacon cheeseburger. Or True Love: cuddling while eating bacon cheeseburgers!”

We laughed hearing about the tactics he used to ‘liberate’ socks from his mom–a true Sock Ninja! After he passed, a friend told Andrea that Saint Peter had best watch his socks… We had to smile.

We loved meeting him, and thank Andrea for sharing her boy.

We’ll never forget Kelso–the very Special K.

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Getty Images

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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If you thought Charlie and Snoopy were characters that only existed in a Charles Schultz cartoon, then you probably haven’t had the distinct pleasure of meeting two charming Wright family members: Charlie, 9, a Maltese, and Snoopy, 4, a Bichon.

Snoopy lives to entertain an audience. “I can see that he’s trying on a costume for his next part–perhaps in Annie?” Cooper says.

Actually, Kathy Wright tells us that her twin 9-year-old grandsons, Mitchell and Austin, put the scarf on Snoopy because they were going for a walk, and it was drizzling outside (in the Northwest, we call that ‘liquid sunshine!’). Don’t forget your boots, Snoop Dog!

Snoopy loves to walk across a room on his hind legs, and dance to music (to everyone’s delight). “He has a future on Broadway!” the Coopster cheers.

Until he debuts on The Great White Way, Snoopy is quite content to entertain the family, four generations strong, who live in woodsy Northwest Oregon. Kathy says that she was searching for a lap dog, and met Snoopy soon after he was born. He was the tiniest pup of the litter, and had “take me home eyes.” So, she did!

He may have been small in stature, but his personality is very very BIG. “I think that’s the way it is with us little guys,” Super Coop observes…  Snoopy’s partner, Charlie, is a more mature, mellow fellow.

Charlie loves to go on walks. “That cute Mr. Bright Eyes looks like he’s ready for one now!” Cooper says. There are always so many interesting sights and sounds and smells in the woods, every walk reveals something new–and something fun to investigate. And there’s nothing better than an afternoon snooze after a long walk…. Except perhaps a treat then a snooze!

We’ve always loved the Charlie Brown and Snoopy cartoons, but we think that our real-life friends, Charlie and Snoopy, are the cat’s meow! “Could you use another term, please?” Cooper asks.

Tomorrow we’ll introduce Charlie and Snoopy’s big buddies, Tahoe and Oakley.

Thanks for the doggone cute pix, Kathy!

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Yesterday, when we mentioned the Catahoula Leopard Dogs that Punk and Rita Carter raise, some of our friends told us that they weren’t familiar with the breed. We are, because of one very special girl…

We first met her when she was barely more than a pup, living at a remote mountain lodge near Leavenworth, Washington. She immediately became a member of our family. Originally called Mud Puddles because her coloration looked like, well, a muddy puddle, the owners of the lodge had renamed her Miss Maud Puddles… “Far more suitable for such a lovely girl!” Cooper says.

In winter’s snow and summer’s heat, she showed us the way on mountain trails. Maudi was the best, the bravest, the kindest, the strongest… words fail to adequately describe all that she was, and all that she meant to us.

Maudi was our Catahoula Leopard Dog, supreme.

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During our recent summer hiatus (more on that later!) we had the fab opportunity to do a story on Punk Cater for AQHA Journal magazine… Punk & his wife Rita live in the Lonestar State and are perhaps best known for training great cutting horses—It must be in the family genes, cause Punk, his dad, John, and his brother, Roy are all in the National Cutting Horse Hall of Fame. Even Punk’s daughter, Cassye, is in the youth HOF!

The family also raises great dogs–one of our fav breeds, the Catahoula Leopard Dog, along with Fila Brasileiros and Black Mouth Curs. As you can imagine, Cooper was all ears to hear that! Punk told us the Fila is from Brazil, and very rare here in the States. All 3 breeds are renown for their bravery and smarts, and are used on the ranch to work cattle. The Carters crossbreed the Fila and the Catahoula for their own breed: the Filahoula! A brand new litter had just arrived when we spoke…

The Carters are a terrific couple, with what you might call an ‘open door’ policy at the ranch—they’re always welcoming young people from around the planet–Australia to Slovenia to South Africa–to learn about horsemanship and life on their Texas ranch. What great ambassadors! We sure enjoyed meeting them–to read their story, check out the AQHA Journal‘s August 2010 issue, and click here to visit their website. Cooper says, “A wag of the tail to the Carters!”

Punk & Rita Carter

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“… not Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Astor together could have raised money enough to buy a quarter share in my little old dog…”  ~ Ernest Seaton, naturalist & writer

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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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If you’re like us, and Mondays are harried from dawn til dusk, you just might want to hit the pause-button for a 6-minute, Border Collie romp…  after watching their shenanigans, your world might seem calmer by half! Cheers!

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Yesterday, we left our chatty harlequin look-a-likes, curling up on the couch with what appeared to be a squeaky duck! We’ll pick up the fun where we left off….

Cooper: Now let’s see, Domino, the last I remember is watching you curl up with a duck (zzzzzz……) followed by some very sweet dreams. Is that duck somethin’ magical, or what?

Domino: It’s my most treasured possession. I am a bird dog (FYI — appreciate your heritage, little Coopster!), and of all my toys I treasure my squeaky bird most, followed closely by my squeaky ball.

Cooper: I’m rather partial to green squeaky balls myself, Domino. That squeak just gets my joy going! Yesterday, you were about to share a favorite story from your therapy dog files. Please do!

Domino: My favorite lady was Miss Ann. Not everyone loves dogs as much as they should, so when you’re doing your therapy dog work, you always have to be careful meeting new people until your handler says it’s OK. But when we first met Miss Ann, I walked in, took one sniff and just knew she loved me, so I jumped right up into her lap! Mom was horrified. But I KNEW! Miss Ann had to explain to Mom what I already understood — that she’d raised Cockers her whole life and loved them the most of anything. I’d lay in her lap for hours and we’d watch TV as she petted me, because she knew all the best spots. Mom says she still doesn’t understand how I knew all that so fast. But I told her, I’m a professional!

Cooper: That’s awesome, Dom! Think of all the joy you brought Miss Ann… I’d sure like to earn my therapy dog stripes! I’d also like to do agility. And I’ve heard you called the Agility King—How’d you get that royal nickname?

Domino: Agility is great. I like doing the jumps – it makes your ears and your skirt (kilt for us guys) fly up like Superman! However, I think running real fast is silly – I like to take my time and just jog between the obstacles. Those dogs that go hell-bent around the course are just asking for a sprain! So, I guess the name is from being king of the course, don’t you think?

Cooper: Yes! You & I have a terrifical resemblance, don’t you think? Are you sure we’re not long-lost brothers, separated at birth?

Domino: Now that you mention it, hmmm… If we’re brothers, may I be the dashing and debonair one?

Cooper: You are already, my brother! Domino–one last question–what do you know for sure? I mean… do you have a motto?

Domino: The greatest thing we can do to be happy is to make other’s lives better!

Fab fotos courtesy Domino’s very cool Mom, Andrea Caudill

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FUN alert! If you enjoyed Cooper’s Speak! interview with his Cocker cousin, Kelso (aka Special K) , you’ll love where the conversation goes when Cooper chats with Kelso’s brother, Domino! That super-talented Dom is a therapy dog extraordinaire, an agility king, a thorn in Kelso’s side and his mum’s pride & joy–well, three out of four isn’t bad! It’s 100% Cocker fun, it’s comin’ tomorrow and you’re invited!

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And properly trained, man can be dog’s best friend…  ~ Cory Ford

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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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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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