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 à mâcher – 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. 🙂


Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Doggie Things


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Follow the leader, leader leader…

Cooper does this thing when we are out walking in the dog park or even hiking on trails. We will be in a vast open space and he’s off leash running around enjoying the tall grass and smells when we come to a path only wide enough for one and suddenly he needs to play follow the leader. Now, this path may be among the tall field grass but it’s the very grass he was frolicking through a second ago when the trail was wide enough for 2 people and two dogs. But the moment the trails narrows, Cooper feels the need to be ON it. And by on the trail I mean walking directly behind me and on MY feet! He literally will walk on my heels. We can’t decide if he is trying to be my cheerleader to keep me going or if he’s taking cover from something, like Hattie because he only does this to me, not my husband or anyone else. He’ll go ahead for a minute or so and then comes back and repeat. Like “come on mom, keep going, you can do it, go! go! go!”

I remind him he has four of his own feet and to please use them. Now that my husband and I are expecting our first baby I don’t need to be walking for three, thank you. Two is enough!

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Doggie Things, Things That Amuse Me


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