Giving back

by Lorin Michel Friday, December 11, 2015 7:50 PM

After my dad retired, he used to volunteer at one of the local soup kitchens, especially around the holidays. For years, my brother delivered Meals on Wheels and loved it. I’ve always loved the idea of volunteer work but I’m ashamed to admit have never done much of it. I just haven’t had the time, which I realize is a horrible excuse. I do some pro bono work for animal rescue every now and again, which is sort of like volunteering but not really. 

Today I actually volunteered.

Riley was a rescue. We got him from a group called Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue, SAGRR. They’ve been around for a number of years and have rescued dozens, perhaps more, golden retrievers. Our Cooper was a golden, and Maguire was part golden. When we lost Cooper, Kevin wanted to get another so I found SAGRR online and filled out an application. I was contacted within the week and a home visit was scheduled.

This is what I love about these rescue groups. They truly care about where they’re placing the dogs they rescued, which is as it should be. Unfortunately it isn’t always. When we rescued Cooper from a local group in Westlake Village I could barely get the woman to respond to me. She didn’t seem to care where we lived or what our circumstances were. She just wanted to get rid of Cooper, largely because no one else seemed to want him. We took him gladly, but I never had a good feeling about the group. I felt like we rescued him from the rescue group. 

We’ve felt differently about SAGRR since the beginning. Two ladies came on a Sunday to see our home. They brought a dog with them so she, too, could inspect the premises and see if it was dog friendly. We don’t have a yard so I worried that we wouldn’t “pass.” But we keep all of the toilet seats down which is evidently a good thing (I just don’t like the look of them when they’re up) and the ladies – and the dog, Sugar – must have thought we were OK because several days later we were approved. Several weeks after that, we got our Riley.

I’ve been wanting to volunteer with them since. They do a lot of events around the city to raise money to support their efforts. They’re a non-profit and all of the people involved are volunteers. But there are veterinarian costs to take care of, licensing, and more. We tried to volunteer once before, Riley and I, and it didn’t go well. The group does Meet ‘n Greets at local PetSmarts and Riley nipped at a little boy. We were asked to leave. I was mortified by the whole situation.

We weren’t able to participate in the annual pool party or the Howloween costume party or the parade because of Riley’s anxiety issues. But I knew that Christmas was coming and that every year, SAGRR offers daily gift wrapping service at Barnes & Noble. Dogs and books? Sign me up.

Today was my first time, and it was great. There were dogs and other volunteers. My friend Jenny was there. I didn’t take Riley because he’s not ready for that kind of activity. Maybe next year. But I talked to people, I wrapped books, and we raised some money. Kevin and I are going to volunteer next Saturday afternoon and Bobbi and I are volunteering on Tuesday, the 22nd.

I’ve wanted to volunteer, wanted to give back. Supporting the organization that brought us our Riley Boo, helping raise money to keep rescuing dogs from bad situations, seemed the perfect way to do that. It’s what the season is all about.

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live out loud

oh the carnage

by Lorin Michel Thursday, November 12, 2015 7:44 PM

We have had three dogs. Regular readers know all of them fairly well. Dogs make for easy blog posts because they are such characters. Each has an individual personality. Like people, no two are exactly alike. They all like to eat different things, they’re all afraid of different things. There are some similarities. They all like to go for walks, or at least all of ours have liked that. They like going in the car to varying degrees. They like toys. More to the point, they like to destroy toys.

When Maguire was a puppy, before we knew better, we often bought him rubber-plastic toys. He loved them. Within 30 minutes, he had loved them so much they were in little rubber-plastic pieces on the floor next to him, the squeaker carefully deposited on top of the pile. Then he’d sit there and smile at us, so proud of the carnage he’d inflicted. It was as if he was saying: “look what I did, mom. Isn’t it great? Thanks so much for that guy. Please, can I have another?”

Paging Oliver Twist.

As he got older, we gave him plush toys. These didn’t fare much better. He would grasp these guys between his two massive paws and pick at them with his teeth, trying to dislodge a thread. As soon as he had a thread he would pull on it and pull on it until it unraveled a seam. Stuffing! He would systematically pull the stuffing out one mouthful at a time, depositing it in piles on either side of him. The once plush toy was reduced to a mere shell of its former self. We used to re-stuff the toys and put them in the hospital. The hospital was the top of the refrigerator where re-stuffed toys waited to be sewn up. After two or three trips to the hospital, the toy would be properly buried in the trash can. 

Cooper did much the same, though since he was older when we got him he had a bit more self-control. He would still work his guys, chewing on them, pulling to find that elusive thread. And once found, the same process would begin. A hole would open, and stuffing would be pulled out and deposited. It often looked as if a small snowstorm had happened just around him. By then, we’d closed the hospital. If he destroyed a toy, it got thrown out. Sooner or later a new toy appeared. He had several toys at any given time, so he was never without and he rarely went from destroying one to immediately destroying another. 

Enter Riley Michel. 

Oh, the carnage. Like those who came before, he loves his guys. Like those who came before, he will work a guy until he finds that one loose and offending thread and then he will pull until it opens and he can systematically dig out the stuffing. If he finds a squeaker or a rattle along the way, all the better. It’s like bonus carnage. 

What carnage?

Lately he’s been on a true tear. Just this week we have had to “bury” – and by bury I mean toss in the trash – Joe, a camouflage dinosaur that my mother brought him; Beav, a very dapper beaver that Roy and Bobbi brought him; Bear, a supposedly tougher toy that I bought him from Ace Hardware; and Cow, several tennis balls with a thick rope going through and a stuffed head and tail.

We have tried to explain to him that if he destroys all of his guys in one week, he’s going to be a very lonely boy. And that if he thinks I’m going to go out and buy more toys, well … he’s absolutely right but probably not until this weekend. 

As I write this, there is another guy in the foyer. Santa Bone. Santa Bone was Cooper’s and we just recently discovered him in a box. Riley took to Santa right away, and vice versa. But the attraction has turned violent. There is carnage. Everywhere. Again. 

This is the legacy my boys share. Their love and the eventual destruction of their guys. But as Kevin pointed out with Riley, they’re his guys. I worry though that he may be pathological. He may be a serial guy destroyer. I wonder if there’s a program he can join. What’s a puppy mom to do? Except buy more toys and expect more carnage. Like Cooper and Maguire before him, it’s Riley’s way of living it out loud. 

Hopped up on goofballs

by Lorin Michel Thursday, October 8, 2015 8:33 PM

Golden retrievers are goofy dogs. They’re big, doofy, goofy, happy-go-lucky dogs that look like big blonde bears. Tails are always wagging, tongues are hanging out to the side, eyes are loving. The whole body wriggles with anticipation of everything. They get excited easily. They bark, they whine, they want to explore and be with you all at once. They live in a state of crazed delirium most of their lives. This is what our dog trainer refers to as being hopped up on goofballs.

Riley is our third golden retriever mix. Maguire was our first, though he was more Australian shepherd than retriever. He was dark and big, and had a more mellow, hang loose, hey dude kind of attitude. When he barked, he barked in threes. Ruff, ruff, ruuuuffffff. Then he was done. He wagged his tail incessantly, until he got too old and he didn’t wag at all anymore. I suppose, much like people, that dogs get to the point where they say: “you know I love you; I know you love me. What’s the point of the tail wag thing?” It still saddened me.

I don’t remember there ever being a time where I thought Maguire was hopped up. He was too laid back, too easy going. He was the best dog that ever lived, in our opinion. I don’t think that will ever change. We’ve loved others; we love one now. We’ll never love a dog like we loved Maguire Michel.

Cooper looked more golden. He had red fur and it was longer, more unruly. Very golden retriever like. We don’t know what else his heritage included and we didn’t much care. He was our Coop de ville, the Cadillac of Rescue Puppies. He didn’t get too nuts either, mostly because he’d seen so much in his little life, he just didn’t seem to care. He loved me to the point of obsession; tolerated Kevin. But he had lived a hard life by the time we got him, and he didn’t have nearly enough time in his better life. Kevin said at the time and continues to say that Cooper got a really bad deal; that he got robbed. He did. He was just becoming a good boy, just getting used to being loved, and then he got sick. A bad deal indeed.

And then there’s Riley. Before we got him, the rescue group told us he was a golden-doodle, or golden retriever-poodle. There is absolutely no poodle in this dog. He definitely has golden retriever and something else mixed in for goofy measure. And make no mistake – he’s a total goof. He’s also anxious. A lot. He’s good in the house, except for when the trash truck rolls through the ‘hood. Or when neighbor Ed comes home. Or when a car comes up the drive. Or when the tortoise comes down the hill. Or when there’s a lizard. Or a toad.

Whine. Squeal. Pant. Tail. 


Last night, we had our second school session. Carey, the teacher/trainer/behaviorist diagnosed him almost immediately as suffering from anxiety. He’s nervous. He’s whines. He’s afraid. His tail is up higher than it should be. He’s hopped up on goofballs to the point of overdose. 

We’re working to get him detoxed. We’re in a program now. He’s learning to live his life in a normal state of nutty. But it will take time. It will take behavior modification. It will take patience. It will take cookies and treats and lots of “good boy!”s. We can handle it. We’re in it for the long run. Our newest little damaged boy will learn that he’s safe and loved. And that goofy is good, but goofballs aren’t necessary to live it out loud.

Just saying

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 15, 2015 8:30 PM

When Justin was little, we had several rituals we developed in order to avoid what we called “the meltdown.” During the summer months especially he would run himself ragged, literally, playing outside with his friends. They’d start early and race around the yard, or go to the park and race around there. They’d ride their bikes, build forts, go to the moon, and that was just before lunch.

We’d have him come in around six, for dinner. Sometimes a buddy would come with him, but usually it was just him. To take a bath, to relax a little, maybe just veg in front of a Disney movie, eat his mac n’ cheese or cheese burger or cheese pizza; chicken fingers or corn dogs and fries, washed down with milk. Or Justin’s wine. We never wanted him to feel like he was less than we were, just because he was little. He always sat at the table with us when we entertained. He was always part of the conversation. All of our friends always included him, talked to him. Most importantly, listened to him. Kevin and I always have wine with dinner. Naturally, he couldn’t have wine, so we bought him sparkling cider. Justin’s wine. There were always several bottles in the wine rack. When he had a friend sleep over, they always had Justin’s wine with dinner.

After a hard day of playing, he would need a bath or a shower. We could never just spring the concept of bedtime on him because that would lead to shrieks and wailing. After he got himself clean and into his pajamas, he always came back downstairs to watch a little more TV. He’d bring his pillows and his Simba blanket and curl up on the floor next to Maguire. Sometimes Maguire was the pillow. About 30 minutes before bedtime, we’d start a countdown. If we eased into when it was time for him to go to bed, it was easier. We avoided meltdown.

“Thirty minutes, buddy,” was the first announcement.

“Next commercial, brush and flush,” was the next announcement.

Brush and flush became the mantra for years. It’s all we’d have to say to make sure that he brushed his teeth and went to the bathroom before bed. Then he could come back downstairs after brush and flush and watch a little more TV. We had it down to a science. We also used it before he went off to school or whenever we were going on a trip so that we knew he had clean teeth and an empty bladder. It worked for years. Occasionally when he’s home now, we’ll joke and say the same thing. It always gets a big laugh.

We have a new mantra now for our new ginger boy, Riley.

Riley is an odd duck. We love him to pieces, but he’s weird. He loves to go on walks but he never goes to the bathroom during the walk. It’s very un-dog-like. We have an area off the garage that’s fenced in. It’s not very big and it’s not very finished – it’s still dirt and enclosed with chicken-wire fence – but it’s where he has learned to go. In the morning, it’s the first place we visit. Throughout the day, whenever he leaps the steps and sits on the landing by the garage door, we know we need to visit the Cooper Area, so named because it was originally envisioned for Cooper.

Whenever Riley uses his outside time to pee and poop, we are delighted to announce P–squared. We do it with flourish. We’re like proud parents whose kid has learned to use the toilet.

We all develop little sayings that keep us functioning, shorthand sayings that allow us to communicate quickly and succinctly. Brush and flush. P–squared. I do find it interesting that the sayings we’ve developed have to do with our boys’ toilet habits.

But I guess we need to go with the flow.

The art of the bath

by Lorin Michel Saturday, June 13, 2015 8:58 PM

We are currently on our third canine in twenty years. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, numbers wise. I do know that it’s good for the canines and it’s very good for humanoids. They keep us young, except when we lose them, and then we feel very old. Diane said yesterday that when they get older is when they need us most. I agree. It’s also when everyone starts to feel the effects of mortality.

We do not currently have an old dog. We do not even have an older dog. We have a nut-job puppy who is almost 18 months and a terrific ball of energy. He does not walk; he races. He bounds. He prances. He leaps. He bounces. It’s actually quite amusing for us. He races from one end of the house to the other, ears flying, clearing the steps (just a suggestion) to land half way through the house. Kevin measured it the other day. From the time he leaves the top step until he lands it’s nine feet. And then he’s off to the races.

Each day we try to walk some of the energy out of him. It doesn’t work. We’re the ones who are exhausted. But all of his boundless energy and long walks in the desert do create one stinky boy. So today we had a bath.

Allow me to drift back in time a bit, to Maguire. We have always groomed our dogs ourselves with the exception of getting their nails cut. The only time we’ve had anyone else do the bath is when we’ve had them in a kennel while we were out of town. Anyone who has ever picked a dog up from a kennel knows the stink factor. Most kennels offer a bath service right before pickup. Once they’re bathed and dried, they are segregated from the other still stinky dogs in order to preserve their newly acquired fragrance.

Maguire hated getting a bath. We used to try to bathe him in the backyard but he’d have none of it. He would fight us and, I’m embarrassed to say, win. Hey, he was a very big and strong dog.

We finally started bathing him in by taking him in the shower. We had a shower stall with glass walls and a glass door. Kevin would get in, I’d corral him by first closing the bedroom door and then chasing him around the room. He knew what was about to happen. He was about to be tortured. And he. Would. Not. Let. It. Happen. Not without a fight. But he was a good dog and eventually he’d let me win. He would begrudgingly get into the shower, I would have to hold the glass door closed because he would push himself against it while Kevin lathered him up. His face said it all: How can you do this to me? Haven’t I been a good dog?

Afterward, we’d go outside to dry off, and he would prance around the yard like a king. Look at me. Don’t I look good?

Riley, after his bath and on the deck, looking handsome

Cooper’s first bath happened the day after we got him. He was a stinky little mess when we picked him up. We took him out in the backyard and armed with a slow running hose and a bucket of warm water, we prepared ourselves. He stood there stoically, and loved it. Especially when it was over.

Enter Riley. He has had three baths now, the third one this morning. He and I went for a walk (Kevin wanted to get an early start before the heat of the day. He’s building a rock wall to push water away from the house.) and then  had some breakfast. It was 7:15. Time for a bath.

Tomorrow he and I are doing our first Meet ‘n Greet at a Petsmart here on the east side. It’s with the rescue group. I wanted him to smell as good as he looks for his big debut.

We went out through the garage. He, like Cooper, doesn’t seem to mind having a bath. I turned on the hose, got him nice and wet, suds’d him up, rinsed him off then stepped back while he shook and shook and shook some more. I grabbed a towel and rubbed him down. Then I turned him loose.

He proceeded to get low, tuck his hind legs and take off. Tearing across the driveway, racing in circles, so damned pleased with himself, having the time of his life, celebrating the moment.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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live out loud

Beginning the adoption process

by Lorin Michel Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:13 PM

When we lost Maguire, it was more than 8 months before we adopted another dog. Part of that was sheer heartbreak. Another part was that Kevin had no desire to get another dog. As far as he was concerned, there was only one dog for him, and that dog had died on March 6. I was lonely and found Cooper on Petfinder. He was with a rescue group in Westlake Village, and had been for quite some time. I’d like to say we immediately fell in love. We didn’t. It took some time, during which we learned what it was to rescue a dog.

It is impossible to fully know all that a dog who finds himself in a shelter or at a rescue has been through. On rare occasions, when a dog is surrendered, he comes with a story of why. Mostly, it’s a mystery. It can be obvious that he’s been abused or neglected or abandoned. But some of the scars may be emotional and thus hard to see.

With Cooper we came to know he was terrified of other dogs, though we have no idea why. He was hopelessly attached to me, something that happened almost immediately after we adopted him. We should have known this would happen. He was also attached to his foster mom, though she didn’t take very good care of him. When we got him, both eyes were infected and crusted, something we were able to clear up fairly quickly after a trip to the vet and some eye drops. He was a little underweight. He was also fiercely protective of the house and of us. If anyone dared to ring the bell, knock on the door, or want to come in the house, he was as likely to bite as to kiss. We learned to take him outside to welcome guests. He was fine with them coming in as long as he invited them.

Even with his behavior issues, we grew to love him so much. Inside, he was a good boy and we helped him to find and release that. When we lost him three weeks ago, we were devastated. We’ve been lonely ever since.

This morning, on our walk, we met a golden retriever named Sam. He was out with his dad, walking in front of us, and when we got close enough, and he heard our voices, he turned and galloped toward us as fast as his 11 year old body would let him. He was a big goofball. Kevin was infatuated.

And so we have started truly looking into adopting another dog. We filled out an application to adopt a special needs dog, a deaf lethal white Australian shepherd. I’ve been in contact with a foster mom named Terry. We may go to Phoenix next weekend to attend an adoption event. It will give them enough time to check our references.

After meeting Sam, Kevin also wanted to look into rescuing another golden. I think he misses Cooper more than he thought he would. It took him a long time to warm up to our little nut bag, but warm up he did. We always thought Maguire was also part golden. So both of our boys have been a blend of golden retriever.

We have a type. Lots of fur, floppy ears, smart and cuddly. Australian shepherds, golden retrievers, border collies. The boy we met last weekend was a border collie mix. The boy up in Phoenix is an aussie. This afternoon I also filled out an application with a local golden rescue.

We’re beginning earlier this time. We want to give another unlucky boy a good home and we want to fill our home with the sound of nails clicking on the tile, and fur tumbleweeds blowing in the corners, dog slobber and toys. We’re ready to help another dog live it out loud.

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live out loud

Who rescues who or is it whom

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 11, 2015 9:57 PM

We went to a local event today called Adopt Local Adopt Love. It was a mega pet adoption: dogs, cats, reptiles. Though I still can’t fathom a reptile as a pet. We did see one guy there with an enormous snake draped around his neck and shoulders like a scarf. It was bright yellow and while, and looked like a boa constrictor, but like no boa I’ve ever seen before.

We weren’t entirely sure why we were there. We lost our precious Cooper only two weeks ago, and it seems too early to get another. And yet, we are so hopelessly lost without him. The house needs a dog, maybe two. And so we went.

There were mobs of people – which I was glad to see. Not nearly as many animals for adoption as I thought there would be. There was an area for cats, which we didn’t go into. There was an area for dogs, which we did. But the amount of dogs was relatively small. I expected the place to be crawling with paws. There were a lot of small dogs, many pit bulls, and a number of greyhounds. There’s still a dog racing park here in Tucson, much to my disgust. I suspect greyhound rescue is big here for that reason.

We happened by a booth for Border Collie rescues, and there was an older dog there named Jackson. He was about 10, or so they estimated. He was gentle and mellow. Just a lovely dog. We were infatuated. We visited with him in the booth as he lay on the floor. We gave him treats. Eventually we moved on. We looked at smaller dogs; we tried to like them. They were cute. But we’re not small dog people.

Like having a type with people, we have a type with dogs. Medium to large, about 50 to 70 pounds, with lots of long fur, nice “pants” and floppy ears. Golden retrievers, Australian shepherds, border collies. We like herders.


We found ourselves back looking for Jackson. He was outside taking a potty break so we went out to see him in a different environment. He was with other dogs, and fine. His foster mom, Jennifer, stopped again to talk to us. Kevin took the leash and they went for a short walk. He was perfect on a leash, trotting easily alongside, never pulling.

But he’s 10. Do we want to rescue a dog who’s that old? Why not? We rescued Cooper at 6 and we only had him 2 plus years. Who’s to say that an old guy like Jackson wouldn’t live another five years, like Maguire?

The fact is, you never know how long someone – human or animal – is going to be with you. You just make the most of the time you have, and always hope for the most.

Rescues break your heart in a thousand ways. Like not knowing what their past was. They think Jackson had been with a family at some point. He is house trained, he has manners. Did they abandon him? With Cooper, we knew his original family gave him up when they decided to have a baby. But we don’t know anything else. With Maguire, he was a puppy. They told us he’d been found in Oak Park. We couldn’t imagine anyone finding him and not keeping him. But people are weird; people suck.

Rescues break your heart while asking you to love them. And we do. We fall in love every time. And when they leave, we are devastated. It’s the price you pay for loving. But for the time we have them, we always wonder: who rescued who or whom?

We haven’t decided what to do about Jackson. We have time. Not too many people rescue older animals. But he has already re-broken our already broken hearts. So who would be rescuing whom?

The ritual of the click

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 12, 2015 8:16 PM

I don’t know when it started but it was many computers ago. Maybe with my first color laptop, the 3400c. Before that, the internet was more of an occasional thing. Now it’s there constantly. Somehow I got hooked into clicking for food, specifically for food for animals. It’s through and each day, after I check my mail, it’s the first site I visit. I read the story of the day and then I click to contribute to food for homeless and rescued animals.

There are always stories about rescued animals, often dogs but almost as often cats. I read the stories always. I love that there are people in the world who rescue, because I abhor that there are people in the world who neglect, abandon and abuse. I can’t fathom what type of human could and does do such a thing just as I can’t fathom the abuse of a baby or toddler. These are defenseless creatures and we are a lot bigger. What causes someone to be so cruel? I have no idea.

My Facebook page is filled with friends posting about things in their lives. I post occasionally but mostly I’m just a Facebook voyeur. The pages I like tend to be about the Patriots, wine, politics, dogs and specifically rescue sites. People who have the capacity to rescue abused animals are heroes to me. Eldad of Hope for Paws and Annie of Rescue from the Hart come to mind, as do places like Old Dog Haven in Washington. Like elderly people, we seem to have little regard for elderly animals, tossing them aside or into shelters. Granted, sometimes this happens because an owner has passed away but too often dogs who are 10 years and older, are abandoned. Old Dog Haven takes them in to foster or for hospice care. There’s also a place in Southern California that I’ve just become aware of because of a senior dog that Eldad just rescued from a water treatment facility. His name is Mufasa. The senior dog rescue is called Lionel’s Legacy.

I’m a sucker for anything dog and I have a special place in my heart for older dogs. That’s Maguire’s legacy. That beautiful boy of ours, who started his life with us as a 10 week old puppy, and was with us for more than 15 years showed us how wonderful a senior dog can be. Regal, calm, filled with the wisdom of life with a don’t-care-anymore attitude that is earned. It’s much like people I suppose, minus the get-off-my-lawn mentality.

I read the stories, I watch the videos, I send money. And I hope that perhaps one day I too will be brave enough to foster animals that no one wants. It’s a dream of mine to help more than through money. But I cry when I read the stories and watch the videos. I can’t imagine having one of those creatures in my house to care for. I think I would bawl the whole time.

Until then, though, until I manage to get brave enough to take in an animal that I will then have to give up to another good home, I click. Every morning. And I hope that just that little bit helps all animals of all ages to live it out loud, safe from those who would do them harm.

Veterinary medicine

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 14, 2015 9:33 PM

Once upon a time, in the year 3000 BC, there lived a man named Urlugaledinna. He was known as the expert in healing animals, and he began the practice of veterinary medicine. Like much of medicine it remained medieval for hundreds of years until a Frenchman by the name of Claude Bourgelat founded a veterinary school in Lyon in 1761. It was after witnessing the devastation caused by a cattle plague that Bourgelat decided to devote his life to finding out why, and more importantly, developing medicine so that it wouldn’t happen again. He did, and it didn’t.

In England, the Odiham Agricultural Society, founded in 1783, worked to promote agriculture and industry. A founding member named Thomas Burgess began studying more humane ways to treat sick animals. By 1790 the official profession of veterinary medicine was recognized. And thank dog.

When I had Tori, my beautiful tortoise-shell colored cat, and lived in woodland hills, I discovered Dr. Stan Kunin and his Veterinary Medical Center. He took care of my girl and when she got cancer, helped me through the decisions I had to make. When it came time to put her to sleep, he's the one who did it. I was a wreck. We went into one of the back rooms and he told me I could stay with her as long as I wanted. Then they had an emergency and suddenly, there I was with my lifeless little girl while Stan and his team worked to save a dog that had been hit by a car. The juxtaposition was wild; the symbolism couldn't have been stronger.

When we got Maguire, the first place we took him was to see Stan. When our little guy got sick and he was diagnosed with Parvo by the emergency pet clinic it was Stan who called us the next day to say it had been a false positive. We took Maguire there for years for checkups and shots, after he was attacked by a neighborhood dog, whenever he just wasn't right. It was a longer drive by then since we had moved farther away but it was worth it.

After awhile he got to be too old to make the journey and Stan recommended a vet in our area who made house calls. Her name was Lorraine Watson and she, too, was great. When we lost our boy, she was one of the first to send a card. Inside she included a small doggie angel pin. He had crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Over the years, we've visited many veterinary offices, we've gone to the 24 hour emergency per hospitals. Whenever we move, one of the first things I do is find the nearest pet hospital. Then I find the closest people hospital. Priorities.

Our Cooper is sick and has been to the local vet twice now in less than 48 hours. He was weirdly lethargic over the weekend and I called on Monday. They saw him that night (our new vet, Acacia Animal Hospital, has extended hours, until 8pm Monday thru Friday) but they didn't really know what was wrong. Last night we were up with him several times as he got sicker and sicker. This morning we went to see Dr. Laudonio at Acacia. He doesn't really know what's going on since there are no outward or obvious symptoms. We did blood work. Now we wait. It’s hard because, as the vet said, animals don’t always follow the text book to let us know what’s wrong. We have to guess sometimes; we have to hope. 

I am so grateful to people who dedicate their lives to the practice of veterinary medicine. They help our animals, our pets, our furry family members when we can’t. Kevin and I don’t know what’s wrong with Cooper. We just hope that it’s something treatable. Maguire was relatively healthy right up until he wasn’t. He was over 15, long past his expected life expectancy. Vets and the hospital helped us when we couldn’t help him. Same with my beautiful Tori.

Tonight, while we hope that our Cooper starts to feel better, while we wait for the results of his blood work, I sit here in celebration of all the vets I’ve had care for my pets. If I was someone who prayed, I’d pray for my little red-furred boy. I’m not. So instead I’ll just think positive thoughts that he’ll be wagging it out loud soon thanks to good veterinarians and veterinary medicine.

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live out loud

The adventures of Cooper Michel

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 11, 2014 9:43 PM

Episode 6: Tail waggin’ crime fighter

Today’s installment in the occasional serial comedy of the intrepid super dog, Cooper Michel, finds our fur-covered hero snoozing in the early morning hours of Monday. The sun was parting the trees, drying the still wet grass. I heard it first, the gate to the east swinging open, squeaking and snarling. Footsteps on the gravel just inside the yard. Cooper stretched, his tags hitting the floor. He sighed, his eyes still closed, his breathing steady. I opened my eyes and waited, listening. Kevin opened his eyes and looked at me sleepily. The guys are here.

Every Monday is when the landscaper’s come. In the summer they come even earlier than they come the rest of the year in order to beat the heat. Into the quiet they sneak, with little to no thought given to the idea that those whose yards they are landscaping might still be nestled deep in their beds, visions of coffee dancing in their heads.

The leaf blowers and weed whackers and lawn mowers whirred to life, shattering any peace not just for us but for our close-proximity neighbors. I rolled onto my side and tried to ignore it, but a raging, gas powered leaf blower right below the window at 6:25 will. Not. Be. Ignored.

I sighed and flipped over on my back, pulling the covers up under my chin, as if that would make the rattle of the windows stop. I watched out the still-open blinds on the French door leading out to the patio, blinds that I usually close at night but haven’t the last couple of nights so that I could watch the super moon, and the eerie light it cast on the back yard, shadows dancing on the grass.

I didn’t see the landscaper as he stepped onto the patio but Cooper did. In a flash of fur and slobber he was up and bounding toward the door. Faster than a speeding food bowl, more powerful than a handful of cookies, able to leap – well, he can’t really get off the ground, which is why he’s on a diet, but you get the general idea. He’s Super Cooper.

He barked once, twice, five times, with such force that he blew his front legs up off the floor. I told you he was powerful. He was protecting the house. He was protecting his people. I snapped my fingers and said shhhhhh, and he gave a little snarl and a puff and then he trotted over to my side of the bed, my tail wagging crime fighter, my great protector.

Maguire was never much of a protector. As big and bad as he looked, he was a cream puff. He never barked at the landscapers. Even when the doorbell rang, it only warranted maybe three deep-throated barks. Whoever was at the door was greeted with a big swish of his plume tail. Come on in, let me show you where the good stuff is. Do you have any cookies?

Cooper will rip the head off of anyone who tries to come into our house without permission. He will do it with a tail swish as well, but he’ll talk lots of smack and he’ll snarl. Anything to keep the intruders away.

He settled his big superhero self on the floor next to me, but near the end of the bed so he could still keep an eye out. He watched, ears alert, puffing as needed. Whether it was a bird, a mower or a leaf floating down where it’s not wanted, he was ready. He was alert. He was Cooper Michel, crime fighter, living it out loud.

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live out loud

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