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. 

Oy. 

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.

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.


Jackson

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 theanimalrescuesite.com 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.

And Hawaii

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 29, 2014 8:57 PM

This morning, the husband unit and I were lounging in bed, having a cup of coffee, discussing the seven continents because what else would a happily married couple be doing at 7 am on a Wednesday morning?

The conversation had started rather innocently when I mentioned that this weekend was the time change. Many parts of the country fall behind. Arizona doesn’t participate because why would they. So I mentioned that we needed to remember that when California clients said they’d like to have a 2 pm meeting, that actually means 3 pm our time for the next several months unless we’re in California and then we don’t have to think about it. Kevin took a sip of his coffee and said his head hurt already. Then he said that maybe we needed to get some of those clocks, and I smiled and I said so we’d know what time it was in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo, maybe Singapore.

That led to a segue of me asking what the biggest city in China is, and we both decided that it must be Beijing. This prompted me to say that I was pretty sure I could name most of the major cities in most countries but that Africa always eluded me. I knew Johannesburg in South Africa. I knew much of Africa was horribly poor, and that there is always strife there; always has been.

He said South Hampton. I don’t know if there’s a South Hampton in Africa. I know there’s one on Long Island and England. I asked if there were any other big cities in Africa which naturally led to a discussion about Egypt and Cairo because what else do you discuss at 7:05 in the morning. He said he didn’t think Egypt was in Africa and I asked well, then, where would it be? Luckily, I had my handy dandy communication device right next to the bed because dog forbid I not have my cell phone within reach at all times. I pulled up the internets and Wikipedia, wondering how I ever got by without Wikipedia, and looked up Egypt. There it was, a nice big splotch on the northern tip of Africa. Hmmm, said the husband unit, sipping his coffee.

What are the seven continents, I asked and together we quickly rattled off north and south America, Africa, Asia. Kevin offered Antarctica. Then we sat, perplexed. Australia? Yes. And Hawaii. I started to laugh. I’ve always loved Hawaii. It’s truly a tropical paradise. It has an otherworldiness about it, especially on the smaller islands, that makes you feel as if you’ve left the chaos behind. Time slows down a bit. You go from living life at mach II with your hair on fire to existing in slow motion. It can take a few days to acclimate, but once you do, it’s difficult to go back to the mainland. I think it might very well be the living and actual embodiment of Shangri-La, a fictional place from the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton that was described as a mystical and harmonious valley, according to Wikipedia. It has since become somewhat synonymous with any earthly paradise.

Eventually, the husband unit and I came up with the correct seven continents. We got out of bed and took Cooper for a walk. The morning here was cool, low 50s. The light was almost blue, even as we approached 8 am. Fall weather. Cooper trotted along, his ears bouncing as they always do. We were quiet, lost in thoughts of Shangri-La. And the lost continent of Hawaii.

A short story by Cooper

by Lorin Michel Friday, April 25, 2014 10:49 PM

Our Cooper is a rescue, as I’ve mentioned. He was five or six when we got him; he’s seven now. According to the rescue group where we found him, he had been with one family for nearly five years until they had a baby and decided they couldn’t have a dog and a baby. It’s entirely possible that there were issues with Cooper and the baby, though I doubt it. He doesn’t seem to have any issues with people though we’ve never had him around small children simply because we don’t know any. We’ve passed a number of them on the sidewalk, usually in a stroller and he pays them no attention whatsoever.

I suspect what happened was that, after the baby came along, he was relegated to the back yard, tied up or kenneled. He didn’t have any human interaction, and he’s the type of dog who needs people. It’s possible that his original owners never paid much attention to him, which could explain why he’s very anxious when he’s alone. Whatever happened, his people gave him away.

The rescue group had him for 15 months. He was passed from home to home to home. I don’t know how he was treated though my understanding of rescue groups is that most people involved tend to like animals more than people. I can’t imagine anyone mistreating him.

He does, however have a pathological fear of other dogs. He hears one and he gets very stressed. He speeds up on his leash, he whines and when he sees another dog, he both stares and then turns away, like he’s afraid to make eye contact. There’s a dog here in the ‘hood. I think she’s a golden doodle. Her name is Lily, and often she’s in her people’s backyard when we walk in the morning. She stands at the gate and as we walk by, she starts to bark and then she promptly runs to the other side of the yard. She’s just a big, dorky dog who seems impossibly friendly.

Cooper is terrified of her.

It breaks my heart that he’s so afraid. It breaks my heart that he’s so stressed about being left alone that he can’t allow me out of sight for more than about 30 seconds. I feed him, and if I leave during the 43 seconds that his head is buried in his bowl as he inhales his food, he leaves the laundry room where his bowls are and races though the house until he locates me. Once he does, he stands for just a couple of seconds, staring at me, then he leaves to finish his food. As long as he knows where I am, he’s fine.

Like I said, his anxiety is heartbreaking.

I was talking to him this morning, after we had passed Lily, on our way back home. I said Cooper will we ever know what happened to so damage you, baby?

Then Kevin began to narrate:

Well, mom, I think it all started when I was a puppy. I don’t remember much after that. I was small for my age. My fur was red so some of the other dogs made fun of me. Then there were people and moms and dads and other dogs and a yard and and and and and.

Oh, never mind. It was a dark and stormy night.

The end.

By Cooper

Celebrating my anxiety-ridden dog, wherever he came from and whatever his past, because I love him, scaredy pants and all. 

Reaching the zenicle

by Lorin Michel Sunday, March 9, 2014 10:32 PM

Cooper, like Maguire before him, is not allowed on the furniture. Cooper, like Maguire before him, is allowed on the bed in the morning for a morning snuggle. This is why we used to and continue to buy bed-in-a-bag. Maguire used to race in the bedroom after his morning constitutional which consisted of the usual, plus a large milkbone dog cookie that was always eaten in the exact same spot in the back yard. When he was young he would virtually launch himself from just inside the bedroom door and land on the bed as nimbly as 85 pounds of fur allowed. He’d then promptly come up to me, since I was still in the bed, cringing at the possibility of being crushed, kiss me good morning and flop over on his back for a belly rub.

After he was done, he’d try to snuggle for a little while but he invariably got hot and uncomfortable so he got down. The only time he stayed on the bed was when he had it all to himself. We’d often find him snuggled up against the throw pillows that I put on after making the bed, snoring in the sun. If he woke up, he’d look at us with a “what? I’m just taking a nap here” kind of look.

Cooper doesn’t usually get up on the bed if we’re not in the room. He’s not secure enough in his canine-ity. Maguire was a very secure dog, probably because we got him as a puppy and we were all he knew, and all he knew was safe. Cooper was a rescue and he had six years of not safe before we came into the picture. He never knows if he’s going to get left behind again, and so he clings; he’s anxious. He’s incredibly insecure in his canine-ity.

But in the mornings, when we’re still in bed, he too manages to jump aboard the California King train and zen out. He curls around, once, twice, three times and then he plops himself down. He keeps his head up momentarily, then he falls over to the side in a heap. He sighs heavily. Before long, he’s snoring. He would stay that way all day if we stayed in bed as well. He won’t stay though if we get up because of his insecurity.

Still, while there, he reaches the zenicle, something I realized this morning as I was watching his feet twitch as he dreamed of dog-knows what.

We humans constantly strive to reach a pinnacle of something. Pinnacle of strength, of influence, of career, of love. Watching Cooper this morning and Maguire when he was alive, made me wonder about reaching the pinnacle of zen.

Reaching the zenicle is all about letting go, letting the day simply be, allowing the moment and the atmosphere and the feeling to wash all over you and around you. To find the ultimate zen.

Now Cooper and zen are mostly at odds. His version of zen is chilling at mach II instead of mach III. He does manage to reach it briefly when he’s on the bed but it doesn’t last. He gets to the place where all is right in the world, now and forever. It is a place filled with cheese and pizza bones and where his parents hug and kiss and squeeze on him all day long and where Wubba never needs to be replaced.

And then someone gets up and the zen is broken.

Can the feeling of zen be maintained?

Bobbi’s online call sign, as I refer to it, has long been zenspeed. Obviously a play off of godspeed which is the ultimate wish for good luck, good life and good travels. zenspeed is more about the ultimate wish for achieving peace and tranquility. It’s the pinnacle of zen – the zenicle – and it’s a good place to reach. 

The adventures of Cooper Michel

by Lorin Michel Sunday, March 3, 2013 10:27 PM

Episode 3: Crouton Rainbow Sprinkles

In the ongoing saga that is the proper training of our pre-owned puppy, Cooper Michel, I thought it prudent to report the following: Trainer Danielle came yesterday morning, was here for another hour and a half, we learned even more and we have homework.

She called just before the appointed time of 9:30, said she was about a mile away and that she was going to drive by the house, honk her horn, and then park down the street a bit. We were to get Cooper suited up and then exit the house to walk. In essence she wanted to see how we were progressing after our first training session two and a half weeks ago. We stood anxiously in the kitchen, watching out the window. Cooper, oblivious as always, was crashed on the floor with best good friend Wubba. We’d already gone for a walk earlier in the morning so that he could have some regular time, and to get in what we call Pee Ops. Part of our training is to control him at all times, including when he gets to pull up at a tree and squirt. Hence, the Pee Ops.

Danielle drove by, honked twice, we got Cooper up, attached his pinch collar and leash (again) and prepared to exit stage left. He was jazzed. Two walks! And it wasn’t even lunchtime yet! Woohoo! Saturday’s are the best day in the world! I really like it here! You guys are the best parents ever!

We left the house with Kevin on leash duty, or as we call it, the Chain Gang. We stopped in the driveway and looked to see where Trainer Danielle was standing. I finally spotted her behind several cars just down the street. She motioned with her hand for us to walk. We started moving, with Cooper merrily trotting next to us. Then she emerged from behind the cars, with a dog.

Now regular readers will remember “the incident,” that horrid Saturday three weeks ago when our little Cujo attacked a poor, unsuspecting Golden Retriever after managing to unhook his leash. “The incident” was the catalyst for Trainer Danielle. “The incident” made us terrified of ever seeing another dog on the street again, ever. Did I mention ever?

Two and a half weeks ago, in our first session, Danielle had brought two of her own dogs, a big American Bandogge Mastiff and a German shepherd, the most well behaved dogs we have ever seen. Which they should be, of course, because she’s a dog trainer and her own dogs are her best references. And Cooper learned to be just fine with them. Maybe he would be with this new dog, too.

The new dog was a jet black labradoodle who looked a bit like a big throw rug or afghan.  She stopped in the street, gave him a hand signal and he collapsed into a pile, with a front paw tucked underneath. She indicated that we should keep going, then turn around and come back. She got her dog to get up, walked a bit more, then collapsed him again. Up down, up down, down up, down up. He just kept lying on the asphalt on command. At least it was still early. There was no traffic and the heat wasn’t yet horrible (it got to about 85º yesterday).


Trainer Danielle with Cooper

Finally, she told us to stop, in the shade, and she brought black rag-dog closer and closer, telling us what to do with Cooper, watching how we were with him and how he was reacting to the new dog. Once on the sidewalk, she had her dog turn around and lay down with his back and butt facing Cooper.

“Kevin,” she said from beneath her huge sunglasses. “Bring him over here so he can get a whiff.”

Kevin edged closer; Cooper took a smell.

“Ok, let him closer and relax the leash.”

Kevin: “No.”

“It’s fine. Let him get closer. Let him smell and sniff and lick if he wants.”

Kevin. “No.”

Remember. “The incident.” We’re going to have commemorative t-shirts made.

After several more back and forths with Danielle saying let him go and Kevin stubbornly refusing, Kevin relented and Cooper got good and close, and proceeded to perform the equivalent of a somewhat pornographic act on the black rag-dog, who just laid there and did absolutely nothing.

Danielle kept referring to the dog as Crew. I asked if he was one of hers. Nope. He was a client’s dog and she was taking him for the weekend because the clients were having a huge party and they didn’t want the poor dog relegated to the dog run for the entire day/night. Plus he’s kind of a wimp. Just a year and a half old, Danielle has been training him since he was 8 weeks old and he is afraid of his own shadow. I asked what his name was. It’s Crouton. So Crew is actually Crou, and his complete name is Crouton Rainbow Sprinkles. Or as Danielle called him yesterday, “bait.”

It was funny. Sort of. You know, given “the incident.”

After Cooper got a few more licks in, we wanted to ask if Crouton tasted like a garlic or an herb, and if it was like having a Caesar salad.

But we didn’t.

Because that would have been rude.

An hour and a half and much training later, we began to move into the reward part of the training. As in see-a-dog, get-a-treat. We’re reconditioning and rewiring Cooper’s brain to believe that seeing a dog is a really good thing and it leads to treats. We have two weeks to practice this theory. We’re calling it Pavlov’s Cooper.

In the mean time, the misadventures of Cooper Michel, pre-owned puppy, continue. At least he has a real name.

Living it out loud in the OP with Coopertino, Cooperlicious, Cooper Dooper, Coop de Ville, the Cadillac of rescue puppies. 

So we got a dog

by Lorin Michel Sunday, October 28, 2012 7:06 PM

I have been missing having a dog for months, specifically missing having Maguire. After we lost him in March, our lives were less hectic. There was no more dog fur everywhere or on everything, or dog slobber on the floor. There were no trips to Petco for food and “hip cookies,” chewable treats packed with glucosamine and chondroitin for his stiff and arthritic hips. Suddenly there were no chew toys in the hospital, otherwise known as the top of the refrigerator, where all toys that had been ceremoniously pulled apart with their stuffing placed haphazardly on the floor around the now unstuffed and flat carcass went for surgical repair.

After we lost him, our lives were less full.

I have long been of the mind set that when you have something wonderful in your life, and you lose that something, you ultimately want it again. People who have long happy marriages and are completely in love with their spouse, and then lose that spouse to death, often have a strong desire to remarry again quickly. Some people dismiss those marriages and think that it’s disrespectful to the person who died. But I’ve always thought the opposite. If you are lucky enough to know the joy of a good, rewarding relationship, it’s actually a testament to the person who was lost to remarry again. Or so I’ve convinced myself.

It’s how I felt about having a dog. We had the world’s greatest dog and for 15 plus years he brought joy into our lives. When he was gone, the grief was overwhelming. It took me months before I could talk about him; longer still before I didn’t cry. Even now, as I think of that big beautiful bear, I am tearing up. I loved him so very much.

And it’s because of that love that I missed the presence of a dog in our home. Specifically, I missed Maguire’s presence, but he was never coming back. And I wanted, and yes needed, a dog in our lives. So a few weeks ago, I decided that it was getting close to time. I was feeling ready. I knew Kevin wouldn’t be quite there though, so we had to talk about it. Maguire was the love of his life and in his mind, no dog would ever be able to take his place. We talked and talked and ultimately he too came to realize that it would be OK. There will never be another Maguire, but there can be another dog who is wonderful and who brings us constant joy.

We went to the local shelter several times. We even went to another nearby shelter. We weren’t entirely sure what we wanted in terms of type but we figured we’d know when we found him or her. We did know that we wanted to adopt an adult dog, one that was at least 3. We wanted to give a dog who had been given up on a happy life. We wanted a mutt, again the type of dog a lot people don’t want. We didn’t want a puppy; everybody wants a puppy. We wanted a dog who needed to be rescued.

The shelters, sadly are filled with pit bulls and Chihuahuas, and some German shepherds. It’s fascinating and sad to think how many people had these dogs and essentially threw them away. We don’t particularly like small dogs, and pit bulls and German shepherds are a little too big. Then I started looking at some of the local rescue groups; I went on Petfinder. And there he was. A five-year old golden retriever mixed with some type of herding dog (we’re pretty sure it’s border collie). Red fur, floppy ears, and an eye infection. His name was Andy. Other than that, he was perfect. Or so we hoped.

I emailed the woman whose group (Labs and Buddies) had him. She’s an attorney in Westlake Village and we spent at least a week trying to arrange a time that would work for everyone. Finally, on Thursday late afternoon, we drove to Westlake and met this 50-pound furball self. He was nutty and unfocused, unsettled and completely oblivious to our presence. All we could do was laugh as he raced around the little grassy knoll.

We left that night, went to the Wineyard and talked about what to do. We were nervous, scared, excited, terrified. I sent a note to the rescue group that night: we wanted to be “Andy’s” forever home. On Friday late afternoon, that’s exactly what we became.

Andy became Cooper and Cooper became a Michel. For the first 24 hours, he remained unsettled and unsure; his stomach upset. He was afraid to sleep even though he was obviously exhausted. We went for a long walk on Saturday morning and a shorter one last night. Another short one this morning and then tonight, we’ll go for a longer one. Today he is markedly more calm, more comfortable in his new surroundings. As I write this, he’s sleeping on the floor here in the kitchen. I know he’s sleeping, not just because his eyes are closed (a dead giveaway I know) but because he’s dreaming. His front and back feet are racing, he’s growling. His hedgehog toy is beside him. He seems content.

We expect it to be several weeks before he knows that he’s home, before he finally understands that he’s not going anywhere. We know that it will take us a few weeks, too, to get re-acclimated to having four feet prancing on the floors. Already there is fur everywhere, and slobber; toys where for eight months there were none.

We will never forget our beloved Maguire. He will always live in our hearts. I think, and I hope, he would be pleased to know that it was because of him that we could adopt another. And so… we got another dog. Named Cooper.

So I’m new here but I think I’m going to like it

by Lorin Michel Saturday, October 27, 2012 8:13 PM

I’m Cooper. Yesterday I was Andy and a long time before that I was Lucky, but I guess I was un-Lucky so I got a new name and then I was lucky enough to get another new name. I just got here yesterday. These people say they’re my new mom and dad, and they brought me home in this really big red car that I almost couldn’t get into but I did, with a little help from my new dad. I was a little afraid – I mean, who are these people? But they seemed nice and they gave me a new collar and it already had two pieces of really blingy bling on it. And I have my new name to go with my new collar and since everybody keeps calling me Cooper I guess I’m Cooper.

I don’t really understand this computer thing. I don’t really understand a lot right now, but I think I might like it here. It sure would be nice to have a forever home. I’ve been in a lot of places, especially lately, and I’m only like five years old.


Cooper Michel

Here’s my story: I lived with a family for a while and I thought they really liked me. I liked them. I thought I was lucky because that was my name. But then they had a baby and they didn’t want me anymore, so they gave me to this lady named Laura who takes dogs that nobody wants. I was really sad. I didn’t know if maybe I did something wrong but I don’t think I did. After that I was in at least three other houses with three other families but I was really just visiting, not really living with them. I was waiting until somebody found me and I could go home.

I got my picture taken and I was on a website! I think it was called Petfinders. But still, nobody wanted me. I thought it was a pretty good picture. I looked cute that day in my golden reddish fur. I think I’m a golden retriever and border collie, whatever that means. I’m just a boy. And then, finally, somebody did want me. I met these two people, the ones called mom and dad, a couple of days ago, and then last night they came with their big red car and my fancy new collar and my new name and I went home.

It’s a pretty nice home, too. I have my own water and food bowl, and a special place to sleep in the same room as my new mom and dad. I have cookies, too. Lots and lots of cookies. I get one when I sit, especially if I sit when they use my name. I sit a lot. I think I like being Cooper. Cooper equals cookies. That’s good.

Today I got up early and after my new dad took me outside, I came racing in the house and immediately went to my new mom’s side of the bed. I put my head on the bed next to her and wagged my tail really hard. I want her to like me. She petted me and rubbed me and scratched behind my ears and said “good morning, Cooper.” There wasn’t a cookie though. Probably because I didn’t sit.


Outside after a bath

I also have to remember that cookies are only in the kitchen.

Then we went for a really long walk and even stopped at a place called Starbucks so my new mom and my new dad could get something called coffee. I had some water. It was good. I met some new people and then we walked some more. When we got back home – HOME! – I had some more water and then I took a nap on the kitchen floor. I like the kitchen. It always smells good there and also, too, cookies.

I’m still a little weirded out. When I said sleep, I really was just laying quietly. I’m kind of afraid to close my eyes. What if when I open them, my new mom and dad aren’t here? What if I have to move again? I don’t want to move again. I think I like it here. I even have a new hedgehog toy.

I like my new mom and dad, too. They’re nice and they’re trying really hard to make me feel good about being here. I wish they wouldn’t try so hard. I feel pretty good already even if I’m a little afraid. But if they want me to sit when they say my name, I will. Cause then I get a cookie.

And don’t tell them that I already know, ‘k? I’m Cooper and I think I’m going to like it. 

A dog is a seal is a mermaid

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:38 PM

I spend a lot of time online as most people do. In the morning, I fire up the Mac, wait the 20 to 30 seconds for it to load all of its goodies, and then open a browser. I open my primary email program, check my other email programs before closing them down, peruse the news and Facebook and then settle in for the day. I open a new browser, I’m guessing, a hundred times a day, give or take a dozen. In my research and with my surfing prowess, I often come across things interesting and funny, heartbreaking and sad, even infuriating.

The internet is a strange and wonderful – a strangely wonderful – place to travel. The world and all of its treasures, weirdness, and creepiness are literally at the stroke of a few keys on the QWERTY. I have journeyed to Germany and France, to Africa in search of color and India in search of ayurvedic oils. I have purchased items from Hong Kong and New Jersey, Alabama and Mexico. I have studied the cultures of Europe and Asia. I monitor-shop (as opposed to window shop) and know I can literally find anything I’m looking for and if I can’t, it quite possibly may not exist.

Today I came upon this meme: Seals are just dog mermaids.

And it got me to thinking. Are seals really just dog mermaids? So armed with a newly opened browser, an open Word document to take notes, my fast-typing fingers and my little brain, I went surfing for the information that might prove or disprove the theory, which incidentally I thought had some possibility. Seals are cute, dogs are cute. Seals have whiskers, dogs have whiskers. Seals have fur, so do dogs. Ergo seals are dogs except that dogs are on land and seals are (mostly) at sea, though seals are sometimes on land and dogs like to swim.

Seals are actually called pinnipeds, from the Latin pinna meaning wing and ped meaning foot; winged foot. They have expressive eyes, a furry appearance and a natural curiosity. If they were in your back yard, they would explore all of the trees and especially the pool, or the puddles. The seals seen in harbors and hanging around coastal towns are earless and called Phocidae. Seals with ears are sometimes called sea lions as well as Otariidae. There are actually 32 different kinds of seals with the biggest being an elephant seal that’s 13 feet long and weighs about two tons. The smallest is the Galapagos fur seal that’s just 4 feet long and weighs only about 65 pounds.

They used to be land animals, probably related to bears or otters, they can be under water for up to two hours because of the hemoglobin in their blood and they are hunted by sharks, whales, polar bears and, unfortunately, people.

Seals are also evidently involved in the Navy and they were part of a 1970s’ singing group with someone named Crofts. Seal without the plural is also quite the singer.

As for dogs, they’re actually canis lupus familiaris, and have been hanging with us for at least 15,000 years though the remains of domesticated dogs have been found in Siberia and Belgium dating to some 33,000 years ago. They can be as smart as a two-year-old child with Border Collies being the smartest followed by poodles, German shepherds, golden retrievers and Dobermans. Some dogs can understand up to 200 words; no word if they can speak that many but no matter. Docile dogs live longer than more aggressive dogs.

Most dogs have fur, either double layered with a coarse coat underneath or single with a topcoat only. Many domestic dogs actually sport natural camouflage or countershading with dark fur on top and lighter fur underneath. Many have a star of white fur on their chest (like my Maguire did). Most have tails.

The biggest dog is usually an English Mastiff, weighing between 300 and 350 pounds. A Great Dane is the tallest, standing as tall as 42 inches at the shoulder. The smallest is usually the Yorkshire Terrier and can weigh as little as four ounces. 

The word dog comes from the Middle English dogge and from the Old English docga. They are often possessed of soulful eyes and a wiggly butt especially because they are usually damned glad to see you. Dog is my co-pilot, dogs rule. Etc.

As for mermaids, well, the US National Ocean Service stated unequivocally in 2012 that no evidence of one has ever been found. The Little Mermaid and Splash notwithstanding.

Evidently they simply weren’t looking in the right place.

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