Tag Archives: Cooper

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


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

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.


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


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


A couple of years ago, I was corresponding with a high school classmate of mine about a reunion.  Hugh had left the east and was living in New Mexico.

“What I really miss is the green,” he said to me in an email.  “I’m thirsty for it.”

Well, it was spring, and that evening I was walking my dog Cooper by the river.  It was hazy, but very green and bluebells were blossoming.  Thinking of my friend Hugh, I snapped a cell-phone picture and sent it off to him.


Bluebells with a BonusIt was actually a nice picture, somewhere between a color and a black and white, because the light was diffused.  I liked the picture, and made it my computer’s background photo.  About two weeks later, while talking with a client, I realized that there was a bonus to this picture.  There on the right, was Cooper.   Pooping.

Today is Cooper’s 14th birthday.   We didn’t think he would make it this long, as he has been in poor health for the last couple of years.  He’s always made me laugh, usually at myself.

Happy Birthday, Coops!  And many more.



Filed under Childhood Traumas, Conspicuous consumption, Family, Humor, Stupidity, Uncategorized

Jetson envy

Ever trwy to blog on a treadmill?

Don’t.  EvEr try it. Your hands bounce up and down on the keyboard and you find yourself inserting words and letters into places, well, into places you never intended.  And the CaPS sOMEetimes sticks makingyou look like you would be better offpracticing your typng.

It is realllly tough to walkan d chew gum but this is nearlyt imposissible.

I am doing this for a reason, you know.  You see my old dog has a new trick.  He refuses to go for a walk with me.  Well, he will go 4 minutes down the path at the park.  There are no hills at the park.  Cooper has grown out of hills.  I need to drive him to the park first, of course, picking him up to get him into the car and picking him up to get him out.  I am not sure if that qualifies as weight lifting, even though he IS 50 pounds.  I figure that equals 200 lbs of lifting when you add it all up.  Sounds like a lot to me.  Of course, since my husband John does all the lifting, I guess I don’t get brownie points for that.  Maybe I could lift some brownies.

So I took my uninspired writer-self down to the basement.  The man-cave, home of our treadmill.  I rarely use it because walking to nowhere, looking at the debris left here by my 20-year-old candidate for “Hoarders” is just too depressing.  But I felt particularly bovine today and therefore I was  inspired — I put a board across the handlebars and made the treadmill into a walking desk.

Damn, I’m handy!

Trouble is, walking makes my arms swing, so I am constantly knocking the laptop off the board.  Then I must lunge, while keeping pace with the treadmill, while grabbing at the laptop, wiping out any funny bits from my blog text.  I feel like George Jetson, in the old cartoon series.  You know that part in the credits where he’s walking his dog, and things don’t go according to plan?  With me and machinery they rarely do.

Which leads me to a question:

Of all the gadgets imagined by the Jetsons’ creators, how come only the ones that make us look stupid have been invented?  Where is my flying car?  Where can I get that talking Robot that cleans house?  And where the hell is that neat gizmo that turns frumpy Jane into glamorous Jane when Skype wants to take her picture for a video transmission?

I want one of those gadgets.  I’ll trade the treadmill for it.


Filed under Humor

Merde 101

[I am on vacation.  What follows is my entry into a memoir writing contest.  My 1st prize notification apparently got lost in the mail.]

            Struggling to understand the chatter surrounding me in Geneva’s Cointrin Airport, I cursed in French for not having learned the damn language.  Merde (Shit)!  Fils de pute! (son of a bitch)!  I knew French curse words would come in handy because my family and I had plopped into Francophone Switzerland for a five-year stay.  My husband, John, had taken a job in Geneva.  We all jumped at the adventure. John wanted the professional challenge, I wanted to travel around Europe, and our six-year-old son, Jacob, wanted to ride in a gondola while yodeling.  Fantastic!  So we schlepped all our crap to a place where none of us could speak the language.  To a place where, in fact, they spoke a language I had already flunked twiceMerde!

           It wasn’t just french classes I messed up.  I also butchered the language while trying to actually communicate my first time in France, too.  Two years after we married, John and I visited our close friend, Fran, who was living in Paris.  John designated me the family French speaker, saying “You took it in college, didn’t you?”  Oh well, I thought, I’ll try.  Did I mention to him that I remembered almost nothing?  Nah.

            Our first morning in Paris, Fran sent us off on our own to see the city while she went to work.  Pointing out the subway, she said, “The Metro’s cheaper if you buy a “‘carnay’ — a book of tickets.”

            We got to the platform, and I practiced my line: “Je voudrais un canard.” “Je voudrais un canard.”

            “Lease, you’re about to ask for a duck,” said John.


            We laughed about it later with Fran, at a café near the Centre Pompidou. “It’s a damn good thing I’ll never really need to know French,” I told Fran. Merde!  Those words haunted me for the five years I did need to know it, a decade later.

            Actually, I was really excited about being in Switzerland, traveling around Europe, living a completely new life.  Switzerland is a magical place.  Breathtaking scenery surrounds you wherever you go.  Just looking at the snow capped mountains rising up from behind Lake Geneva made me feel like Julie Andrews – I always wanted to sing.  But full-time French made me want to scream.  It was a major pain in the ass (une douleur importante dans le cul).  I WILL LEARN THIS, I nevertheless promised myself.  THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM, ISN’T IT?   But I also steeled myself to be repeatedly humiliated on an international basis.  It was important, though, that my son didn’t see my embarrassment too often.

            I immediately enrolled in a French class; a mime class would have been more useful.  La Migro, the local grocery store, offered what were considered the best local language classes.  In spite of my history, I fully expected to be fluent in no time; after all my life was a French immersion class.  I started to learn slowly.  I thought I was doing pretty well, in fact.  But after a year of hard work, I flunked the final.  I was devastated.

            This is not the Sorbonne, I thoughtI can’t master grocery store French?  I am living and breathing in French every day.  How could I possibly have flunked?  I can even successfully talk to people on the telephone in French where I cannot mime, and they understand me. 

            Well, they usually understood me.  There was one major exception – giving directions to our house.  Native French-speakers couldn’t follow my simple directions, even though our house was incredibly easy to find.  Repair people had a particularly tough time.  It was humiliating.

            In Switzerland, most major routes are “la Route de Wherever.”  If you are driving on the main route to Geneva, it is called “la Route de Genève.”  Ours was a farm road and it wasn’t on the map.  So to get to our house, I would tell people (in French) to get off the Autoroute at the Nyon exit, turn away from Lake Geneva, and take la Route de Ste. Cergue.  (Ste. Cergue is the town just up the mountain from our house, a popular place for cross-country skiing and hiking.  Everybody in the region knows it.)  I told them to proceed uphill towards the mountains, two miles past the Avia gas station.  Then, on the left (au gauche) there is a line of seven brown Swiss chalets that looks like a cuckoo clock display.  We lived in the first cuckoo clock.  How could anyone miss it?  But French-speakers often just didn’t show up.  I was really starting to hate French.

            A year into our adventure, though, I realized that I had no choice but to learn the damn language.  That’s when we got a puppy (un chiot; un jeune chien), an adorable English Springer Spaniel, Cooper.  Dogs are welcome travelers throughout Europe.  Well behaved dogs, that is.  We wanted to travel, so Cooper needed training.  Merde.  Luckily, I found an obedience class that was held in a field where Cooper and I often walked, just across la Route de Ste. Cergue.  We enrolled.  Naturellement, it was taught in French.

            The first of three classes was great.  Cooper was a star.  I understood what they were saying — Sit!  Stay!  (Asseyez-vous! Restez!)  My French was very good!  (Mon français était très bon !)  Cooper and I sauntered home.

            But we foolishly went back the next week.  The class of about 20 people and 20 chiots was asked to line up for the exercises (ligne pour des exercices).  We were asked to walk forward (de marcher en avant) – “So far, so good, Coops!” I said to the cooperative little guy.  Cooper wagged his tail.

            Then the teacher/drill sergeant stepped up the pace:

            Tournez à droite!”-– Turn right!  I turned left.  Cooper went straight.

            “Tournez à gauche!” –Turn left!  I was still correcting my incorrect right turn and couldn’t remember which side was “gauche.”  Cooper got confused and wound himself and his leash around my legs.

            “Marchez tout droit”— Walk Straight!  Somehow, I regained my balance and held on to the leash, and then promptly walked into a man whose dog started humping mine.

            “Repetez!”  I didn’t want to.  Cooper sat down and refused to move.

            I could not keep up, and all I could think was “What idiot developed a language where “right” and “straight” are the same goddamn word?”

            The situation did not improve when John and Jacob arrived to cheer me on.  Merde!  I wanted the earth to swallow them both and regurgitate them — safe and unharmed — at a later date and preferably in a place where English was widely spoken.  Just about then I was told in rapid-fire French to:

            “Tenez la laisse à votre tour de taille!”– Hold the leash at your waist.  Hold the leash with my tail?

            “Tirez sur la laisse à l’oreille”– Pull the leash to your ear. Why?  Did I lose an earring?

            “Grattez le chien est de retour.”– Scratch the dog’s back.  Will he scratch mine? 

            “Prenez votre chien bout à bout et pousser vers le bas.” — Grab your dog’s butt and push it down.  Huh?

            “Donner au chiot un régal”— Give the puppy a treat.  I deserve one, too!

            “Ne pas le laisser manger la merde de vache qui est partout sur le terrain” — Do not let him eat the cow poop that is all over the field.   So very glad I signed up for this class.

            And the teacher started again!  It was up, down, left, right, turn, heel, spin around, start again — “Repetez!” until Cooper and I were hopelessly confused about what we were supposed to be doing and why.  I couldn’t remember if “gauche” meant “right” or “left” or what either had to do with its English definition of “tacky.”  I no longer even liked dogs.

            But my husband and son were sitting on the grass, watching.

            Merde.  I cannot let my seven-year-old see me looking like a clown.   Suddenly, I knew exactly what I had to do.

            “Tournez a gauche,” the teacher commanded.  I bowed to Cooper, and then copied what my classmates had done, purposely two beats behind.  Jacob looked confused, so I took it up a notch.  I exaggerated our wrong turns.  I checked my shoe for poop, grimaced, and wiped the pretend poop on a clump of grass.  Jacob giggled.  My classmates moved out of my way.  I wobbled on an imaginary tightrope and tapped Cooper gently on the butt trying to make him wobble, too.  Jacob and John laughed.  I marched with military precision while Cooper did just as he pleased, and I faked shock and dismay.  My guys were laughing with me.  Cooper joined in the ruse by slipping out of his collar, running and jumping onto Jacob, depositing muddy paws and kisses all over him.  Jacob was delighted.  We happily returned home across la route de Ste. Cergue, my secret failure safe.

            And then a miracle happened in the week between the second class and the final class.  A French-speaking electrician found his way to my house using my directions.  Directions I had told him en français.  Better still, he solved the riddle, ‘where do repairmen go when I give them directions?’

            “Cette route est appelée ‘la route Blanche,’” he told me.  “Il n’est pas appelée ‘la Route de Ste. Cergue.’”  This road is called ‘The White Road,’ he said.  It is not called ‘the Road to Ste. Cergue.’”  Even though it damn well is the road to Ste. Cergue and everybody takes it to get there.

            There were no street signs of any kind, no name on the map.  Nothing identified it as la Route Blanche.  It seemed that this was a very new road by Swiss standards, only about 75 years old.  The “old” route, which meandered around quite a bit and started twelve miles away and at a completely different exit, is still called la Route de Ste. Cergue, even though no one has used it to get there since 1927.

            It is not my fault that French-speakers cannot follow my directions,  I realized ecstatically.  I can tell people how to get to my house!  I can do it in French!  They didn’t change the road name when they built the damn road.  They didn’t change the map or put up street signs.  There was no way for me to know!  I am not an idiot!

            Cooper and I went to the third and final class with renewed confidence. We invited John and Jacob to come.  Cooper and I actually did better with the commands thrown at us in rapid-fire French.  Some commands we understood, some we faked, some we hammed up as an encore.

            Cooper earned a diploma in his class.  He got to see a whole lot of Europe.

            I continued with the grocery store French class, sometimes understanding and sometimes faking it.  Within a few months, I passed the course.  I took home a certificate and proudly showed it to John and Jacob.

            “What does it say?” my son asked.

            “It says “Jacob’s mommy is fluent in French!” I told him proudly.  He gave me a kiss and happily headed out the door to play with Cooper.

            John smiled.  “What does it actually say?”

            “I’m not really sure,” I said, smiling.  “It’s in French.”


Filed under Humor