Whispering Pines Henrietta’s House of Twigs “Hattie”

It has been a minute, or 8 years, since I last posted on this blog. I have kept it though because the stories of our fur babies are precious to our family, even though so many of them aren’t even on here yet. There will be a few more posts, I’m sure, but this one is written with a grieving and heavy heart.

One week ago today, on March 1, 2022 our sweet and spicy Hattie girl left us at 11 and a half years old. Whispering Pines Henrietta’s House of Twigs (Hattie) passed away peacefully at home after seeing all of us out the door one last time.

It is impossible to capture her with enough words but she was the sweetest, most snuggly, sneaky, ball-loving pup I ever met. I love both our furry kids but Hattie and I had a special bond that is beyond explaining…but I’ll try.

Hattie was incredibly gentle and had the most amazing demeanor. She came to us with an “automatic sit” at 8 weeks old and never ever once jumped on a human. With the exception if we were sitting on the couch and it was family cuddle time, then it was fair game as to who would be in her way to get to me.

She had a drive and retrieve for the ball unlike any other dog we know…I even wrote a blog post about it, “For the Love of the Game”. You can check it out next ūüėČ

Patiently waiting for the ball during one of her FAVORITE activities…when Jeff shovels. She gets to snow bank dive for the ball and chase it through the cul-de-sac!

Hattie was my yoga puppy, always excited when my mat came out as there were belly and chin rubs to be had. She would come nose-to-nose with me in down dog and passively-aggressively work her way under my face and onto my mat, regardless of my yoga plans. And yet, if I really needed/wanted her to move off, she would do so ever-so obediently and wait. And wait. AND wait.

Belly rubs and yoga…can life get any better?!

Hattie was hilarious in her ability to be seemingly innocent yet unbelievably stealth in her ways of getting into things she wasn’t supposed to; even had us blaming Cooper for years! In her 11+ years of life she managed to consume over 2 dozen no-show socks, multiple wardrobes of boxers and under-things, the bottom of a curtain and a comforter…all without being caught or detected! We learned the hard way that all this stealth destruction was in fact our sweet Hatster when we forgot to kennel her one day and our niece came home to an astronomical mess. Let’s just say, Hattie had a GREAT time while we were at work and didn’t need to eat her dinner that evening.

Cooper and Hattie are best friends. Even though she has always been that annoying little sister he wasn’t sure he wanted, Cooper is grieving for her too. He’s hard of hearing and it’s even more evident now that Hattie has left us, as she was Cooper’s compass through their daily life, guiding him with her movements and barks.

Hattie knew how to find comfort in life, typically on my or Jeff’s pillow. Or any stuffed thing for that matter. She would wait for the one of us to get up in the morning and quickly use the opportunity to take the other’s place. She was the queen of the bed too, making sure that she got the spot she wanted whether or not Cooper was previously occupying it. Hattie didn’t growl or get aggressive towards him. No, like a true Minnesotan, she took the passive-aggressive approach and just calmly walked over and sat on him or close enough for Cooper to get the point he was in the spot Hattie wanted.

Hattie took this same approach when wanting attention. She wouldn’t lick or jump but she would sit so close and put her face right up to, and I mean IN your face so you could feel her little whiskers and then stare at you. She would “will” you to reach out and pet her with her big brown eyes and doggy breath. This was really special in the summer when she was hot…pant, pant, pant… She would save the facial-sneezes for special moments.

Hattie was a miracle pup, living with an aggressive blood vessel cancer far beyond anything our veterinarian had ever seen. Hattie was diagnosed with Hermangiosarcoma in March of 2020 with 3-6 months to live. We opted not to treat and we had nearly 2 more wonderful years with her. She didn’t show symptoms until just a few weeks before she died and we are so thankful that the battle was brief and she left on her own time. Like the incredibly loyal and unconditionally loving girl that she was, she made sure I got off to teach my class, that Jeff, the kids, and Cooper headed to the bus stop and she quietly slipped into the heavenly world. Just as stealthy as she always has been.

Oh my dear Fuzzy, Fuzz-wuzz, Woo-woo, Hatster, Little dog, Hattie, you took a piece of our hearts with you when you left, but it was a piece worth losing. You are forever loved.

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Posted by on March 8, 2022 in Doggie Things


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Puppy Faces: Cooper’s Story

Do you ever look at your pet and think with a swelling and tight heart that you’re so grateful you have them? That you were meant to have THIS pet because it’s likely with someone else that pet wouldn’t have thrived or maybe even lived? That’s how I feel about Cooper. We did not rescue him from a shelter but wow did we face challenges in raising him. He was a shy guy at 12 weeks old and at our first vet visit he bit the doctor out of pure fear. The vet even suggested we take Cooper back to the breeder because there was something “not right” with him. The vet thought Cooper had aggression issues at 12 weeks old. Needless to say we ended up changing veterinarians.

Cooper is a great example of how we can do the most thorough research and plan accordingly for something and we still end up taking a different or even “wrong” path in the eyes of others; only to later know that you took the right path. As I mentioned, Cooper was a fearful little guy full of energy and love but the world was so scary that he had a hard time trusting it. We did get him from a Labrador breeder and at the time I thought I did thorough interviewing of her and really liked what she had to say though emails and phone call. My husband and I didn’t know anyone with Labradors from whom we could get a referral. When we arrived at the breeder’s place it was filthy (to be kind) and Cooper was sticky with the urine of his litter mates; he had to have a bath before we could even touch him. He acted the opposite of how anyone will tell you a “good” puppy should behave when meeting people. He hid behind the breeder’s legs and showed no curiosity of us, just fear. My heart hurt so badly and in my mind I was like “This is wrong, this isn’t what he should be doing when meeting people. Walk. Away. Now.” But my heart said, “you CANNOT leave him here”! So despite the sound advice from every dog training show on Animal Planet and numerous books and websites on “how to choose a puppy”, we helped bathe Cooper and took him home.

Baby Cooper

Baby Cooper: first ride home

Cooper stole our hearts. Giving him back was NOT an option. Cooper was so energetic and loving that my husband and I knew we could help him. He was ours. I would pack a bag and head to the major home improvement stores armed with treats, paper towels and floor cleaner and ask anyone and everyone if they wanted to feed my dog. I explained he’s a little shy and would give willing participants a treat to coax Cooper to them for affection. Within a month of doing this 2-4 times a week Cooper made leaps and bounds (literally) with his social skills! My mother-in-law might say this worked a bit too well because Cooper is 5 1/2 years old now and he still greets her with jumping kisses and anyone who meets him has a difficult time believing he once was afraid of everyone.

We also quickly discovered Cooper is extremely intelligent, hence why this blog even exists because his antics are so hilarious they need sharing. I used to think Cooper was bull-headed and “tough” which was why he was the way he was. But our current veterinarian (WONDERFUL woman) said he’s actually extremely sensitive and is easily saddened or disappointed. It’s amazing how the right information can give you a whole new insight on someone/something.

Now, I won’t leave out that there were evenings in that first year with Cooper where my husband and I would exhaust ourselves before we could exhaust Cooper. And there were times I broke down and cried out of frustration in not knowing how to handle Cooper’s intelligence and energy and the naughty behaviors that bored dogs come up with. But through careful training, professional consultations and lots of patience and love he has turned out to be a stellar pet!

And even though we now have a human toddler, Cooper still holds the reputation of being the most challenging “kid” that lives in our house. But, he has also grown into the most loving critter, full of intelligence and personality and he is unbelievably great with our son. I cannot imagine what life could have been like for Cooper if someone else had him. In fact, someone else did have him in his first weeks away from the breeder but they returned him and that’s how we were aware of Cooper’s existence at 12 weeks old. Cooper could have easily become a shelter dog…homed and re-homed for “bad” behaviors that were truly just misunderstood until the shelter would have stopped re-homing him (shudder). But what I really can’t imagine is OUR LIFE without HIM. Cooper has brought so much joy to our lives and is the definition of unconditional love for our family. We love you Big Guy!

Big Guy


Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Doggie Things


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jouet √† m√Ęcher – that’s French for “chew toy” (I hope)

Well, needless to say since the¬†addition of a human kid¬†to our household the writing of the never-ending Labrador entertainment has halted. However, that doesn’t mean our furry kids’ antics have stopped. On the contrary, they’ve increased ten-fold!

As usual, Cooper is at the head of this hilarity with his ever creative means of getting attention. The title of my post is in reference to an expensive teething toy we received as a gift from our sister-in-law which my son does enjoy. At least I hope my French¬†Google Translation of “chew toy”¬†is accurate and not some¬†inappropriate interpretation of my meaning.

This debutante of a teether is quite¬†something and perhaps you’ve seen her especially if you have babies of your own or had the pleasure of shopping for one recently.¬†¬†She is French, she is made of soft rubber, and she is all the rave in baby teethers. Her name is Vulli Sophie the Giraffe. Sophie has her own website, her own friends, and is the Vulli “Super Star” according to the website V. Sophie Giraffe

Now, my son has enjoyed gnawing on Sophie’s¬†rubber legs and occasionally her smooth nose but no one and I mean NO one is more infatuated with Sophie the Giraffe than Cooper. You see, not only is Sophie made from soft rubber material with a cute face she also squeaks. And not just any squeak but her sound is of the exact same sound as many dog toys that have come into our house and exited via the trash can in bits and pieces.

If we should forget to put Sophie the Giraffe up on the counter after our baby has played with her you can bet that Cooper will be laying in his bed with Sophie either in his mouth waiting for us to notice or with her laying on his legs because we failed to notice and so he set her down until we do look. So far Sophie has escaped a tragic death by lab teeth because primarily Coop takes her for attention but we are not fooled that he would gladly chew the squeak right out of her should we leave her at his mercy for long.

Cooper’s infatuation is so strong that the other day I caught him doing what any big brother would do to his little brother when little brother has something he wants. While getting ready for the day I¬†put my son in a¬†baby seat on the floor of the bathroom and gave him Sophie’s to gnaw on. I noticed Cooper was behind me “looking” at my son and then,¬†I realized my son had a hold of Sophie’s legs while Cooper had Sophie’s head in his mouth and was ever-so-gently and slowly¬†pulling her away;¬†my son’s arm slowly¬†extending with the gentle pull as he refused to let go.

Now I’m a huge fan of non speaking creatures, babies and inanimate objects having captions in photos or funny voices like they do on TV. So three dialogues came to my mind for this situion:

My 7 month old: With a perplexed expression, “ummm excuse me? No seriously dude, what are you doing?”

Cooper:¬†“Don’t mind me, I’m just going to borrow this for a minute. Just. Let. Go. Wow, little squishy human you’ve gotten stronger…just give me the squeaker now…”

Sophie the Giraffe: I could just imagine the fancy French Giraffe having a¬†high-pitched voice wailing in distress in the same fashion as a cartoon¬†damsel-in-distress does when the villain steals her away. Her voice would have a cute French accent and be screaming, “No, no! Don’t let go! Don’t let that huge¬†slobbery animal crunch me in his teeth, squeak me,¬†and lick my face with that huge tongue again!¬†Help! Help!”

Ah, yes we have animation worthy entertainment right in our own home! I love the lack of dull moments in our life.

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Doggie Things


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Fetch Mama

Oh boy oh boy…baby boy! My husband and I had a baby boy in January and WOW has life for our family changed! Cooper and Hattie have adjusted quite well showing anything from indifference to concern for the baby’s well-being. Cooper is far more concerned with our son’s location and well-being while Hattie is more concerned with how his middle-of-the-night crying disrupts HER sleep. ¬†As of this weekend we moved our baby into his own room next to ours to sleep in his crib. While baby made this transition quite well this mom has gained new insight for the game of “fetch” that Cooper and Hattie seem to love so much.

We give our son a pacifier¬†at night and it works really well…when it stays in his mouth. Up until a few days ago it wasn’t a big deal to just reach over into the bassinet next to our bed and pop it back in his mouth. Now however, we need to leave the warm bed and head into the next room. Sometimes 3 or 4 times in 20 minutes until he settles down.
As I groggily sit at my desk this morning after an exhausting night of fetch with my son and his pacifier I am even MORE perplexed as how on earth our labs enjoy that game! Because really, fetch looks tiring when awake but is just pure exhausting at 2:00am. Perhaps we can teach Cooper, who has taken camp in the hall between our doorways so he can watch both us and the baby in the night, to fetch the nuk back to its rightful owner. If only Cooper had an opposable thumb!
But instead our son has trained us with this task and there will be many more things to come where I’ll have to be a “go fetch” mama.


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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Doggie Things


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For the Love of the Game

Our Sweet Hattie

Our Sweet Hattie

I used to think no dog could love a simple ball more than Cooper until Hattie came into our lives. She truly lives life for a game of catch and/or fetch. Snacks come in at a distant 2nd her world. We have a plethora of balls around the house from standard tennis balls, balls that squeak, glow-in-the-dark balls and the harder rubber bouncing kind. Hattie even has a favorite: a white and blue rubber ball that mysteriously showed up in our yard one day and she most certainly never shares this ball with Cooper.

Hattie’s love of the game runs strong and she is full of determination and dedication to play. She’ll bring¬†a ball¬†to any human in her presence, drop it at their feet, step back and wait…big round hopeful eyes, perked ears, wagging tail and continuous¬†stare just willing¬†the person¬†to notice her. Once she’s been noticed she looks at the ball then up again quickly willing that person to notice the ball too. Her face just says, “look at me, look at me, look…yes! Now see the ball? There it is…right there…grab it. Grab the ball, grab the ball, grab the ba…yes! Now toss it here, that’s it toss it, toss it!”

Woo hoo! She catches or retrieves it, races back like, “wasn’t that fun?!?!” and patiently¬†starts all over again.

Her dedication is astounding. She will patiently stare you down for 20+ minutes. She will even pick the ball up and conveniently place it on your lap and wait….wait….wait…wait…. Her tail wags¬†slowly and¬†constantly and will pick up speed if you even blink in her direction. Even when you tell her “that’s enough” she tries¬†a couple more times just to make sure you¬†REEEEALLY mean it and are truly finished playing the most exciting and thrilling game EVER.

Hattie’s love for the game is so strong that if no one will play with her she will take a ball, roll onto her back¬†and continue to play catch herself. Holding the ball in her paws over her face, she drops it, catches it and does it again. She’ll do¬†this for 10 min if Cooper doesn’t interrupt her or I don’t try to take a picture. Hattie is quite camera-shy so capturing her game of self-catch has yet to be recorded. ūüôā


Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Doggie Things


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