Posts Tagged ‘unconditional love’

Recently, we had the great good fortune to meet Priscilla, who lives with her family on the East Coast. Happily, her family includes Jack, a 6-month-old, 55 lb. boxer puppy, and Gorda, who was a surprise: they thought they were rescuing a rat terrier (15-20 lbs) and instead, she really was a toy fox terrier, weighing in at 7 lbs. “She’s a mini-surprise!” says Cooper. Priscilla shared a beautiful portrait of her pups:

“Wow, you can use the words ‘clean’ and ‘white dog’ in the same sentence!” Cooper says. Since Cooper’s idea of cleaning up for dinner is shaking off the horse poop he’s been rolling in before he comes in to eat, you can imagine that our country bumpkins were pretty impressed by Priscilla’s beautifully groomed family… But she soon set us straight, and we haven’t stopped laughing since! In her own words:

Jack’s not all that white all that often… once again, the husband is to blame, and yes, i roll my eyes every day. Jack’s the great white boxer, he only looks clean here. he likes to roll in dirt, eat dirt and otherwise loves anything to do with dirt. he likes to eat mice. i have pulled two dead mice out of his mouth in his short 6 months of life, and i pulled a bird’s head out of his mouth last weekend–i wonder where the body went? lalalalaa, not thinking about that. so don’t think you have the market cornered on bumpkin!

and by the way, shortly after i took the picture, ostensibly to show my decorator girlfriend the new white flokati rug i bought, jack ate said rug.

also, we took jack to a puppy play group and THREE people came up to us to tell us about whitening dog shampoos. when complete strangers are recommending shampoo, you’ve got to know you have a dirty dog!

“My sides hurt from from laughing so much,” Super Coop says. But read on, to learn how changing their newly adopted dog’s name influenced her behavior… It’s doggone amazing!!!  Again, in Priscilla’s words:

gorda is the toy fox terror, i mean terrier. she only walks on her front feet in the snow!

she was a rescue. when we got her, we kept her original name, haley. she had gone thru a disastrous 2 weeks with a family who abused her, so we weren’t keeping that name (besides it was “prancer” and i could not see myself calling that out loud in public!). and the name the temp foster mother, a teenaged girl, gave her was the german word for pretty: shon (umlauts over the o), and i was so-so on that, so we went back to her breeder given name, haley.

haley proved to be a VERY difficult dog, extremely fearful and a big time peeer. if you looked at her, she peed. if you said her name, she peed. etc. it was a real trial. then, i read a book by jon katz about his very bad sheepdog, boris. boris was bad to the bone. his trainer suggested renaming the dog, as it appeared to her that the dog misbehaved even more when the author said the dog’s name. he changed the name, and overnight, he claimed, the dog changed for the better. bad associations with his former name?

what the heck, i sez to meself, let’s try it. and, after a family conference, it was done, she was officially gorda. har har, that’s the husband’s humor: gorda is spanish for fat little girl; gorda weighs 7 lbs.

ANYway, the next day, no one could believe it. she was way less fearful of the family, and actually showed confidence, and didn’t pee every time someone looked her way. everyone kept reality checking one another, but it was true, she was different. the neighbors came over and confirmed it, not knowing we’d changed her name.

go fig. what’s in a name, eh william shakespeare?

Fantastic concept! “And fantastic new friends!” adds Super Cooper.

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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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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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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’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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Maud and Foxie were the best of friends. Is there anything so generous and steadfast as the heart of a dog? I think not.

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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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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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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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