Category Archives: Cooper

Vote for ME Please, If It’s Not Too Much Trouble

One of the many reasons I’ve never run for public office is that I hate asking for things.  It makes me uncomfortable.  It makes me feel unworthy.  Unloved.

Votes have always been especially hard for me to ask for.  So this is really hard for me to do.

But one of my earliest bloggin’ buddies, Lorna of Lorna’s Voice, nominated me for the BlogHer “Heart:  Feel it” Award!  And I need your vote to avoid total humiliation.

It is for my story/blog post, Letting Go.

Letting Go is a very heartfelt piece.  You see, it was written with my dog Cooper asleep at my feet.  Written knowing that the vet would soon come for his last, and saddest, visit with my ailing Cooper.  But it isn’t a sad story.  Because it is about a very special walk with a very special dog who made a very special friend that day.  Or tried to, anyway.  And it happened many years earlier, when Cooper was young and healthy and carefree.  The story really did help ease the pain of his passing, even as I was facing it.

So please click on this link, register (sorry!) and vote.  For me and for Coops.  For Letting Go.  (There’s a link to the post through this link.)

http://www.blogher.com/node/1393485/voty?category=VOTY%20-%20Heart%3A%20Feel%20it.

And pretend you’re in Chicago — vote early and often!

Thanks, Lorna!

82 Comments

Filed under Awards, Bloggin' Buddies, Campaigning, Cooper, Dogs, Elections, Humor, Pets, Writing

Boaring Followup

When I wrote my story about Cooper and the wild boar he tried to befriend, well, I did it as a way to make my peace with my furry friend’s passing.

And as frequently happens when I write about things that hurt my heart, my blogging buddies have all helped me through what has been a sad few days.  Thanks.  It has made a difference.

Karen, from Mom in the Muddle commented that she’d never known anyone with a wild boar story  And it occurred to me that I have several.

So I thought I’d tap that keg one more time, and tell you my other wild boar stories.

Spoiler Alert:  Nobody dies.  You’re welcome.

Boaring-story #1

Linda was an English angel.  We met when she came to my door about six months after we moved to Switzerland.  By that point, I was incredibly lonely – my French was, ummm, sucky, and I knew very few people.

Then Linda knocked on my door. She spoke English.  And she was moving in down the street with her husband and two, count ‘em two kids – a girl Jacob’s age (Catherine) and a boy (James) a year younger.  Friends for my son!  Did I mention that she was English.  And that she spoke English?

While Linda was visiting that first afternoon, John called. I told him that we had a new neighbor who spoke English and that I wasn’t going to let her leave.  I said this in front of Linda.  Somehow, she didn’t take me to be some sort of psychopath and became my friend in spite of what must have seemed like a creepy thing to say.

Anyway, one evening after Cooper and I had our encounter,  Linda was driving down the busy road that was next to our house.  Linda drove a large, green Mitsubishi Montero, and that night she struck a fully grown, male wild boar.  Only a car that size could have won such a jousting match.  Linda was unhurt, and she called the local police, the gendarme, to report it.  The men in uniform came rushing.

Now what do you think was their first question?  Did they ask if she was hurt?  If her car was alright?  If she was traumatized by hitting and killing a beast that weighed as much as a truck?

No.  Wrong on all counts.

“Madam, do yu vant it?” they said in heavily French-accented English.  “Ze sanglier?  Ze body?  Ze boar?” 

You see, the meat from wild boar is a much sought after delicacy in Switzerland and France.  Linda was unaware of that fact.

Linda straightened her British backbone, stiffened her British upper lip and said in her most refined British accent:

“Why No.”

Image from gourmetfly.com

Image from gourmetfly.com

Linda’s boar was given to a local bistro in the next town.  The served sanglier à la chaise for the rest of the season.

Google, natch

Google, natch

I didn’t try it out of respect for Cooper’s pal, the boar who didn’t kill us.  It only seemed fair.

*   *   *

Boaring story #2

In mid-2000 we moved a short ways away, across the border into France.  There we had a lovely house, but the dog walks were less spectacular.

Still, every night after Jacob went to bed, John or I would take Coops for a walk.  We took turns, because Jacob was still too young to leave alone.  We were still surrounded by farm fields, but the views and the walks now along town streets that meandered alongside of farm fields, instead of farm roads that criss-crossed them.  These roads were built for cars, and darn it all, people used them to drive on!

John insisted on taking a flashlight whenever he went for a walk at night.  I thought he was a pansy.  I mean, really, there were streetlights here and there, plus your eyes adjust to the darkness and I for one could see just fine in the dark, thank you very much.  I was not a pansy; I didn’t carry a flashlight.

And you know, that was probably just as well, because one night while Cooper and I were out, we walked down a road that was busy enough to require me to leash Coops.  And it was a good thing.  Because as we came around a curve I noticed something silhouetted in the streetlight 30 feet ahead of us – a full grown, tusked, wild boar.

Thanks, Google But our boar's tusks were way bigger

Thanks, Google
But our boar’s tusks were way bigger

Male wild boars have tusks that protrude from their lower jaw.  They use these tusks to skewer dogs and people who displease them.

Cooper and I stood very still and watched him.  The streetlight glistened on his tusks which were quite large.  I figured they would easily go through either Cooper or I.  Maybe both.

Unless we died from the stench.  Wild boars seem to have an aversion to water.  And soap.

After about 10 minutes that seemed a whole lot longer, Pumba moved on into the farm field on the other side of the road.  There was a dip of about two feet between the road and the field, and Pumba negotiated it easily.

Phew!  Another boaring averted.

*   *   *

Boaring-story #3

Naturally, I started to become a wee bit nervous.  Paranoid.  Fearful of large mammals that might kill me and my dog.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t do anything stupid around a wild animal.  I respected them.  I admired their strength.  Their wildness.  Their ability to kill me if I ticked them off.  So I knew that I was safe.

Cooper? There was not even the slightest chance that he would be sensible. So during the fall, when the wild boar were known to be around, I kept him on the leash in the evenings.  I was learning.

I did decide that maybe my husband John wasn’t such a pansy after all.  Perhaps, I thought, just perhaps, a flashlight wasn’t such a stupid idea.  It could let me see what was going to attack me, although sometimes I think you’re better off not knowing what’s gonna hit you.  Still, maybe having a flashlight would give me a blunt instrument with which to defend myself.   I looked at the six-inch plastic flashlight in my hand and realized that I was totally screwed in the weapons department.

One night, not long after Cooper and I had seen Pumba basking in the streetlamp, that we had another sighting.  I was starting to worry that my luck just couldn’t continue.  Time was running out.  How many times can you be in close contact with a wild boar without getting boared?

It was getting on towards December.  There was a distinct chill in the air.  The leaves were off the trees, the shrubs were bare .  The moon was full that night, and so I left the flashlight at home.  I could see just fine in the bright light that needed no batteries.  Of course, just when I needed the moon, it chose to disappear.  And that is when I looked to my left and saw the dim outline of yet another wild boar.   And this one was even bigger.

This wildlife crap was beginning to get on my nerves.

“SHIT!!!!” I thought.  “What is with these pigs?  Do I have a ‘Gore me’ sign on my back?  Or one that says ‘Secretly wants to be Boared?’ ” 

Does Mother Nature truly have a warped sense of humor?

In the dim light, I could just see the animal slowly walking, straight towards me and Cooper.  We slowly backed away, but it kept coming.  Slowly and steadily it lumbered our way, prolonging my fear.  Why not kill me and get it over with?

I swear, this animal was even bigger than the last boar we’d seen.  From its size and shape, I figured it was possibly the largest wild boar on earth.

And then, just when it was at the edge of the field, about 20 feet away from frozen me and squirming Cooper, something surprising happened.

The wild boar mooed

 

There was a whole mess of them Google Image

There was a whole mess of these scary critters
Google Image

The farmer had apparently just moved his herd of cows to that field the other boar had crossed.  It had previously been empty.  The moon came back out and shined down on me, as I laughed uproariously.  Cooper looked confused but he wagged his tail and tugged on his leash.  He wanted to play with the cows.  Of course, they don’t much like dogs, either.

*    *    *

Cooper and I never again met a wild boar.  And you know what?  That suits me just fine.  Because dealing with one sanglier was memorable.  A whole herd of them was just getting boaring

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Filed under Awards, Cooper, Dogs, Family, Geneva Stories, Humor, Pets, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

Letting Go

It promised to be a glorious day, and magically, I woke up early.  I snuck out of bed without waking John, grabbed some clothes and went quietly to the living room.  I opened the shutters and looked out to see the slightest bits of pink light starting to color the sky outside.  Dawn was just breaking, and it looked to be a beautiful start.

“Wanna take a walk?” I asked Cooper, my year-and-a-half old Springer Spaniel.

Cooper wagged his tail, and headed towards the door.  We grabbed his leash, my red jacket, and headed out into the morning.

And the morning was glorious.  A November morning.  Indian Summer, if there can be Indian Summer in Switzerland where there never were too many Indians.

We lived in the midst of dog and dog-lovers’ heaven.  Our tiny house was located on the outskirts of a small village 20 minutes outside of Geneva, Switzerland in farm country.  Our chalet looked just like a cuckoo-clock, and it stood as the last clock on a rural lane in what looked like a display of seven cuckoo-clock houses.  Across the dirt road from the clocks were farm fields.  The fields crossed the road to the left of our house and went on and on.  Wheat, corn, hay, sunflowers, rape seed.  The fields sloped gently down and gave way to vineyards and apple orchards until the hills gently ended at the town of Nyon and Lake Geneva.  The Alps, with Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, rose above the Lake and the other mountains, as if placing its arms around the gang of mountains it hung out with.

Not a bad location

Not a bad view*
(I’m pretty sure this is one of my pictures.)

Magestic.  Magical.  Make-your-heart-sing-like-Julie-Andrews-beautiful.

It was about 5:30 when Cooper and I headed out.  We crossed the busy road that ran to the left of our house, and I let him off the leash.  It was getting lighter, and I walked and watched my dog run, both of us smiling.  He’d run a bit, then come back to check on me and run off once again.

Springer Spaniels are expressive dogs – their sad looks can melt your heart.  But when they run, they embody joy.  Pure and simple joy.   And on that morning, Cooper ran with abandon through harvested corn fields that we passed first.  His ears flapped and happiness spread across his face as he ran and jumped over cornstalks and literally ran circles around me in his delight.

We continued on the straight farm road that paralleled the Lake, passed fallow fields to where the road turned at a right angle and led us downhill towards the lake.  By now, it was lighter — I could just start to make out Nyon Castle in the distance, although it was so far away that if you didn’t know it was there, you really couldn’t see it.   The road crossed another farm road, and so we turned to the right again to continue on our normal loop that would lead us home, after a walk of about 2-1/2 miles.  It was full morning, now; the sun glistened on Lake Geneva, the snow topped peaks and me and Cooper.

Up ahead on the left and right were fields of grass that would soon be harvested for hay.  Cooper ran ahead and disappeared into the tall grass.  I watched as the grass parted, showing me just where he was and how far he’d run.

But then I noticed a second line where the grass was parting for somebody else.  Or something  else.  Whatever it was, it was heading straight towards Cooper.

Possibly the best way to describe Cooper would be as a fur-covered marshmallow.  Everything inside — good and sugary.   As a soft, squishy, completely sweet thing, Cooper didn’t  understand aggression.  Somehow it all worked out though – aggressive dogs never attacked or bothered him.  Cooper wanted to play, and his playfulness was infectious.  Even the most aggressive dogs found him endearingly stupid; and they always played with the sweet dope.

Still, when frightened, Cooper became a complete coward.  If something frightened him, well, Cooper would run to me and hide behind my legs.  Or behind John’s legs or later, behind  Jacob’s.  An all-inclusive coward, he’d hide behind us one and all.

So when the two paths in the grass converged, I wasn’t surprised at all to see Cooper come springing out, his face the picture of delight.  He had a new friend, and was running towards me to share the good news.

There are some friends you just shouldn’t introduce to your mother.  This was one.

Cooper had met a wild boar.  An enormous, wild f’ing boar.

Google Image

Google Image

She came out of the grass, and stopped in the middle of the road and stood there, all 250 pounds of her.  She strutted her impressive bulk and looked from side to side.

I stood there, frozen, my mouth agape.  I watched her breathe, knowing that I was unlikely to remember this meeting fondly.

I could see the sun touch the edges of her coarse, bristled fur where it was lighter than the part that came out of her back or side or anywhere else on her 250 pounds or so of solid flesh.

I could hear her breathing from about 75 feet away, as I backed up slowly.  She breathed in and out, sometimes through her snout, and sometimes in wet breaths through her lips, which flapped occasionally.  She breathed loudly.

I could smell her.  She needed a bath.  Or a run through a field of lavender, preferably in France.

SHIT!

We had been warned about wild boar, but in spite of long twice daily walks through the fields, we had never seen hide nor hair nor bristle; we didn’t worry.  Cooper was delighted with his new friend.  And he rushed over towards me to tell me so.  I wasn’t so easily smitten.

Wild boars do not like dogs, they are known to attack and kill them.  They aren’t fond of people, either.  And rumor has it they aren’t terribly playful.  And I wasn’t anxious to turn my lovely morning walk into a learning experience, either.

I looked over in the direction of the house and suddenly realized something extremely important:

It’s a long crawl home.

“Cooper, Come!”  I shouted, stupidly, automatically.

In fact, I was not sure I really wanted him to come to me.  Would I take on a wild boar to save my dog?  Not if I thought about it logically.  But then logic really has very little room in the brain of a dog-lover.  Of course I would have taken on a wild boar to save my younger, dumb son.  And of course, I would have lost.  Especially since, in looking about, I realized that we were in the middle of a farm field and there wasn’t so much as a protective twig in sight.  Damn the compulsively tidy Swiss.

I did not want to be wild boared.

Cooper, oblivious to the danger he was dancing around, he kept going up to the boar, prancing in front of her, running in circles around her, begging her to chase him, just like his doggy pals did.

“Come on, play!” he was obviously saying.

“Go away,” she was clearly thinking as she aimed a cold, bored glare at him.

I was pretty sure that if she chased him, it wouldn’t be to play.  And then naturally, Cooper would panic, not know what to do.  Oh who am I kidding – Cooper’s first and only though would be “MOM!”  and he would run and hide behind me.  And the boar would kill me, an innocent bystander.

I looked at my red jacket, glad I had worn that one so that they could find my crumpled, maimed, boar-ed body more easily.

“Dammit, Cooper, Come!  Now!” I said more softly, trying to get him to leave her alone.

Nobody ever listens to me.

Cooper ran away from the boar towards me at last, but then he turned and ran back to her, again, circled around wagging his tail furiously, still trying to get her to play.

But suddenly, the situation changed.  “Cooper, Come.  Now!” I screamed it this time.

Because the boar had turned her head.  She was now looking at me.

Naturally, Cooper ran around her again and fortunately she forgot about me in her irritation at the stupid dog.  The boar, who seemed to have finally caught her breath, looked at Cooper like he was her pesky little brother.  She shook her head once more, dismissive of the pest, and continued on her way uphill through the grass field.  The grass separated as she pushed her way through.

Cooper came back to me, defeated, deflated, rejected.  He looked sad in that tearful, long-eared way only a Springer spaniel can have.  My boy’s feelings had been hurt.  I was glad it had only been his feelings.

*    *    *

Cooper loved those fields, where he could cavort in relative safety, where he could run free, with his ears flapping.  Doggy Heaven.  Of course, it really didn’t matter where he was, Cooper was happy wherever he was, as long as John, Jacob and I were there with him.

Today, that’s where Cooper is  —  in doggy heaven.  I am sure that he is back in the fields near Gingins, Switzerland.  Running with unrestrained joy, looking out over Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc and the Alps.   He’ll have his young dog body back, with no aches, pains or problems.

I hope he doesn’t run into any wild boars, though.  Because it’ll be a while before John, Jacob or I will join him.  For a while, there’ll be nobody for Coops to hide behind.

The Boys in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland

The Boys in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland

Cooper

March 9, 1998 – August 13, 2013

*   *   *

To vote for this story in BlogHer, please go to:  http://www.blogher.com/node/1393485/voty?category=VOTY%20-%20Heart%3A%20Feel%20it.  Thanks!

281 Comments

Filed under Cooper, Dogs, Freshly Pressed, Geneva Stories, History, Humor, Pets, Wild Beasts

OneOhFive and Counting

Using the telephone when you live in a country where you don’t speak the language is daunting.  You know each time that you’re going to look like an idiot.  You can’t resort to the pointing and grunting to make yourself understood that you do in person.  Instead, you’re left sounding like a moron; it’s inevitable.

Normally for me looking like a dork is not a problem.  Since that’s how I look frequently, I make the best of it.  I even enjoy it more often than not.  And those experiences often become my funniest stories.

But when you make an idiot out of yourself because you can’t communicate, it’s different.  If you can’t laugh with the person who witnessed it, well, it takes the fun out of it.  All you’re left with is feeling like a lonely idiot.

Knowing that humiliation would follow, each and every time I picked up the phone in when we lived in French-speaking Switzerland, my heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach while my pulse rate and blood pressure soared.  I was on my way to the Idiot Zone.

And that’s just how I felt when I picked up the phone to call dog breeders. We’d opted for a pure bred puppy because we had a little kid (Jacob was 6) and because my husband is a lawyer and thinks that he can research things and know what he’s getting into.  Yeah right.

Anyway, in early 1998 we needed a puppy.  I needed a puppy.  My son needed to grow up with a dog since he had no siblings and needed someone to talk to.  John got to choose the breed:  An English Springer Spaniel.

That morning as always, I looked at the phone with trepidation.   Shit, I thought.  I picked it up and dialed.

Bonjour.  Je m’appelle Elyse.  Vendez-vous les chiots?”  Hi.  My name is Elyse.  Do you sell puppies?  [Yes, I’m quite the French conversationalist.  In English you can’t shut me up.]

“Would you like to speak English?” said the woman on the other end of the line.

“Yes!!!!” I said with tears of relief/delight/I-don’t-have-to-sound-like-a-dope coming to my eyes.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  All I could think of was just how lucky I was to not have to try to negotiate in French.  Or German.  Or Italian.  Or Romanch.  Instead, on the other end of the phone was someone who spoke English!  A woman who could understand me and respond.  A woman with puppies!

“Very good.  I can speak English.  And I have puppies.  Can you visit them tomorrow?”

“Yes!”

A plan was set.  We got directions and headed out the next morning to pick out a puppy!

All the puppies were in a room with some cushions and blankets on the floor.  The three of us made ourselves comfortable and started cuddling puppies.

Jacob picked up the puppy closest to him and put it in his lap the way Madame Carasco, the breeder, showed him, as the puppies were still quite young.  But another puppy waddled over to Jacob, pushed the first puppy off of Jacob’s lap and settled himself down for the long haul with my 7 year old son.  It was the only smart thing that dog has ever done.

“Look!  He loves me Mom!”

“He Loves Me, Mom!”

And then I asked the price.

Cooper is descended from a line of top show dogs that have been winning Swiss and other European competitions for generations, going back to Roman times, I’m pretty sure.  Cooper couldda been a contender.  But I’m not that kind of a girl (and we’re not that kind of a family).  His perfect physique, beautiful coloring and his full (not cut off) tail “showed” only to friends and family.  And he’s never whined once about lost glory.  What a guy!

But he loves me, Mom!

Today is Cooper’s 105th Birthday,  his 15th in human years.  He’s an old man now, a puppy no longer.  His joints are stiff, he can’t walk upstairs by himself these days, and is so blind that he only realizes we have entered or left a room by sniffing the air.

Cooper 3-9-13

You know, in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t ask the price on the phone.  Because Cooper has been well worth every centime.

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Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Cooper, Dogs, Family, Geneva Stories, Humor, Mental Health, Pets

What’s In A Name?

Shakespeare never had a dog.

No, if he’d had a dog he would never have had Juliet say “What’s in a name…”

Because you see, there is something about naming a dog that makes people choose poorly.

I was reminded of just how poorly recently at the park.  John and I were walking our dog Cooper by the river when we came upon a couple with a Giant Schnauzer walking in the opposite direction.  Their dog and Coops had met before, but I hadn’t asked the dog’s name.  This time I did.

“It’s, ummmm …” said the owner with a sigh, “Gladiator.”

I fussed over Gladiator, petted him, let the dogs sniff and even smooch a little bit and then we continued on our way.

As we walked away, I chuckled to John, “Oh I remember feeling like that.”

“Like what?”

“Embarrassed to have to introduce my dog,” I responded, thinking of Goliath, my alcoholic German Shepherd.  (John will never stop laughing at me for having chosen that name.)

It was a stupid name.  And I chose it.  For the first time in my life, I had a pet with a stupid name and I couldn’t blame someone else.

Well, I could, actually.  And I did.  You see, I had brunch with some friends one Sunday.  We were talking about Saturday morning cartoons, what we liked, what we didn’t like when Frank brought up “Davy and Goliath.”  For the folks in the room, Frank described Davy and Goliath:

“It was a Christian-based show where Davy, the boy, always wanted to do something a little bit wrong or dangerous.  His dog, Goliath, served as his guardian angel.  Whenever Davy wanted to do something of questionable intelligence, Goliath was always there saying ‘I don’t know, Davy,’ and tilting his head to indicate that the idea was pretty stupid. “

I realized then and there that I wanted a guardian angel.  I wanted someone who would protect me and stop me from doing stupid things.  I wanted ‘Goliath.’

Fortunately, a few days later, I found him.  My dream dog.  A German-shepherd/Malamute mix puppy who was about 4-1/2 months old.  Trouble was, he was a wee bit psychotic.  And huge.  Unfortunately, I DID name him “Goliath.”  (Goliath I am sad to say became an alcoholic.  I wrote about it here.)

His right ear usually flopped over making him look ridiculous

I loved that dog.  But almost immediately I hated introducing him, because he grew into his name.  He was huge.  And having a huge, psychotic dog named Goliath doesn’t get you into the best parties.

Naturally, I blamed Frank the next time I saw him.  It was, after all, all his fault.

It wasn’t my first experience with a stupid dog name.  Growing up, my father had for reasons nobody ever really understood, named one of our dogs Oklahoma.  None of us had ever been there; we speculated years later that perhaps there was a college football game on TV.  No, Dad would never tell us why, but we had a dog named Oklahoma.  Okie for short.

Next time around, my brother Fred was in his hippie, metaphysical stage.  I will not say that drugs had anything to do with the fact that he named our next dog Klingsor, after a Hermann Hesse novel.  I was always a little bit thankful that the dog’s name wasn’t Siddhartha, although that would have made me a hit with a certain crowd.  Dad, however, in a rich bit of irony from the man who named Oklahoma, thought it was a stupid name and modified it.  Dad always called Klingsor “Mr. Klink,” after the colonel on Hogan’s Heroes.

Klingsor

For sheer embarrassment at the back door, though, my friend Keily had a dog with another ridiculous name.  Her sister had been given the honor of naming their puppy, and Rose thought that she should name it after something she loved.  She named the dog “Baseball.”

Try shouting out any of these names for your dog when you’re calling him to come in from the back yard.  Everybody in the neighborhood hears you calling your dog.  You shout: “OKLAHOMA!” and neighbors want to shoot you because they get that damn song stuck in their heads every single time.  They hear you calling “BASEBALL!” and realize that your family is in a league all their own.  They hear you calling “KLINGSOR!” and think you are having a bad reaction to LSD.  They hear you calling “KLINK!” think you’re looking outside for a TV character and realize that the neighborhood is going to the dogs.

They hear you calling “GOLIATH!” and become convinced that you do, in fact, need a guardian angel.  Or a straight jacket and a padded cell.

As the owner of one of these dogs, you want to hide under a rock.  You want to pretend you’re dog-sitting.  You want to let everybody know that you didn’t give that dog that stupid-ass name, even if you did, in fact, give it to him.

You know how you’re supposed to learn from your mistakes?  Well, dog owners don’t necessarily.

After Goliath died, John and I of course needed a dog.  Jacob was a year old, and we researched big dogs that are good with kids.  We decided to get a Bernese Mountain Dog because they’re great with kids, beautiful, and tend to not try to kill the mailman like Goliath did.

It was of course the olden days.  Before email, the interwebs, and modern communications.  We found a breeder who had a puppy.  She sent a picture to us by mail, to see if we were interested in driving 5 hours to see him in person and possibly take him home.   I ripped open the envelope the minute it arrived and called John:

“He is the cutest puppy in the world.  We have to get him. 

And we have to name him “Adolf.”

I can still imagine John sitting at his office desk, pulling back the telephone receiver and looking into it thinking “I married a mad woman.”

But tell me, what would you have thought if you’d received this picture:

I mean, really now.  What would your first thought have been?

I mean, really now. What would your first thought have been?

Fortunately, while still on the phone telling John we had to get the cute little guy, I realized that Charlie Chaplin also sported that same mustache, and so the puppy that we did in fact bring into our family, became Charlie.  Phew!  That was a close one.

To William Shakespeare I will say this.  What’s in a name?  Long term embarrassment if you’re not careful.

***

Loyalty demands that I include a picture of Cooper, my now elderly but still incredibly sweet dog, pictured with his big brother Jacob.  Cooper was, thankfully, named by his breeder.

Jacob & Cooper in Alps

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Cooper, Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Humor, Pets, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

An International Life of Crime

The State of New Jersey just passed a new law requiring pet owners to restrain their pets in the car.  It’s become known as the Seamus law, after Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus who famously rode to Canada on the roof of Mitt’s car.

Now I have mixed feelings about this law.  It was designed to keep primarily dogs from distracting the driver.  Which is a good thing.  But I’m worried that it will lead to a crime wave.

Because restraining my dog led me to bribe an official of the French government.  Somehow I eluded authorities and remain a free woman.  But there is a lesson here.  And that lesson is this:

Restraint results in a loss of freedom

Yes, it’s true.  I am profound.  And awesome.  And a hardened criminal.

So what happened, Elyse? you say, wondering if you really want to know about my life of crime.  And you know I’m going to tell you.

*   *   *

When we got Cooper in 1998, we owned a Toyota Picnic, a little six seat van not available in the U.S.  It was kind of a vomit van, actually, because it was well known to induce vomiting by anyone who traveled with us.  We kept a large supply of cleaning supplies with us at all times.

Anyway, I read an article about how, if you stop suddenly, while traveling at 60 mph, a 50 lb Springer Spaniel dog will be traveling significantly faster as he flies through the car.  He will, in fact, become a projectile and might end up killing your kid.

Now I liked the dog a lot even at that early stage.  But I didn’t really relish the idea of the dog killing my kid to whom I was quite attached.  So, to scorn and jeers from John, I bought Cooper a special doggie seat belt that attached to the seatbelt of the seat behind the driver’s.

Cooper, however, did not approve of this new restraint.  I presume I hadn’t adequately educated him on the importance of self-restraint.  Because he ate his restraint.  And he had started eating the seatbelt too when I realized what was happening and released the rebel.  Who then happily sat wherever he wanted in the back of the vomit van.

Fortunately, Cooper hadn’t really done much damage to the seatbelt.  There were only a few bites taken out of it; it worked perfectly well and was not a safety hazard.

But when we moved across the border into France a couple of years later, well, we had to have the car inspected.  And the French car inspectors are famous for flunking Americans.  According to my husband, anyway.  And so I faced the villains alone.

Now, before you jump all over my husband for sending me into the lion’s den, well there is something you should know.  My husband cannot lie.  He cannot stretch the truth.  He cannot exaggerate.  Worse in this case, he would not have been able to restrain himself from explaining to the inspector that it really was not a safety issue.

Me, well, I’m different.  I grew up getting away with high crimes and misdemeanors.  I rarely got caught, and when I did, well, I got out of it. I’ve had practice.

So whenever we needed to deal with the French government, well, it was all up to me.

I drove to wherever it was, produced my paperwork, and waited my turn.  Truthfully, I was nervous.  I didn’t want to have to spend $1 zillion replacing a seat belt (car repairs in Switzerland/France are tres cher).  So I fidgeted with the container of mints in my pocket.  Tic Tacs.

When my turn came, I was outside with the inspector, chatting to him.  He was a young guy, and was nice and helpful as I tried to have a chatty conversation with him in my pigeon French. In fact, he couldn’t have been nicer to me.

Plus, the car was in great shape, clean and nearly perfectly maintained.  He found nothing wrong on the outside.  Then he opened the front passenger side, and tested the seat belt.  He closed the door and went to the rear passenger seat, and tested that one.

I started to sweat.  The chewed one was next.

He went around and opened the rear driver’s side door.  And that’s when I did it.

“Tic Tac?” I asked him, holding out the container.

“Oui, merci, madame,” he responded, closing that door without looking at the damaged seat belt.  He took a Tic Tac, and proceeded to inspect the driver’s seat belt.

My car passed inspection with flying colors.

And I continued to live a life of crime in France, just outside of Geneva for two years.

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So, if you are going to be driving through New Jersey with your dog you have two choices:

Restrain him or buy yourself a three-pack of Tic Tacs.

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Filed under Cooper, Criminal Activity, Driving, Fashion, Geneva Stories, Humor, Law