Last week, we lost the old apple tree, but this week we lost fur family – Grand-dog Leo Cooper has crossed over the Rainbow to join his canine sister Lucky Cooper and Grandma Copenhaver. Auntie Glenda says her Grandma is probably trying to catch Leo right now to pop him into a Unicorn outfit, one of her more sinister plans. I suspect he will love every second.
This loss was much harder on the Bean than she expected since Leo is a Grand-dog, not her dog. But she was quite emotional for a few days over it all, knowing the right thing to do under his dire circumstance and encouraging Auntie Glenda, but still being ultra sad herself, and we had to support her through it. Leo was, after all, her first Grand-dog, and when he was still a baby, he flew all the way from Washington State to visit her in Virginia. I wasn’t even around then, but she said it was pretty wonderful. A Bijon Frise (words she had to learn to spell and pronounce), Leo was pure white and as bouncy as a rubber snowball, and so friendly you had to watch to be sure he didn’t disappear with a total stranger or lick someone to death. Fortunately, he could be bribed with food but once the food was gone, he was someone else’s best friend.
To say he was the perfect dog would be to describe his appearance only. In reality, he was a total scamp. His mom and dad moved from their apartment to their first home soon after his adoption, and they promptly installed an electric fence. They soon learned the extra transmitter was useful indoors too – it kept Leo from the counter top where they prepared food, and if properly placed, from the counter and the trash at the same time. Such a busy boy.
Leo had no fear. None. Great Dane? Boxer? Mastiff? No problem. They were his best friends and playmates. It never occurred to him that something much larger could be a danger. If they were ready to play, so was he. C’m on, buddies – beat ya to the other end of the yard! He had a low center of gravity, and he was quick.
No dirty floors at his house. The crumbs were gone before they even hit the floor. And just in case, he’d lick the floor too. Butler service. And if you harnessed and leashed him, he could be dragged around as a mop, which could be very convenient in a pinch. When a new baby sister/playmate entered his family last year, little Haley was trained to sit on a rug where she had to wait and watch Leo grab anything that fell from the master chef’s cook-space. I think they made Haley sit and wait because poor Leo was, by then, pretty much blind and deaf, and he wouldn’t have stood a chance with young, eagle-eyed Haley at the ready. But even deaf and blind, he could still sense food falling from above, and, after waiting patiently, Haley got her tasty reward. Good girl, Haley.
Two years ago, Smidge was on the receiving end of one of Leo’s more playful whims, although she doesn’t describe it as playful when she tells the story…over and over. I’ve now committed it to memory. She was sitting comfortably outside on a table right between Auntie Glenda and our Bean when, out of nowhere, Leo lunged forth and grabbed her. And in a grand display of his speed, he was g.o.n.e. in a flash. And so was Smidge. Thinking he’d gotten away with his sneaky maneuver (Auntie G & Bean were too shocked to move), he paused a bit. Then there was screaming and the men pounced. Until the screams, Leo had just enough cocky spirit to believe he was home free and had relaxed his grip on poor Smidge. But when the men went after him, he repositioned her in his mouth and sped off. A warning from Auntie G made everyone stay still because she said he thought that having them chase him was a game … and he was winning. Finally, he was coaxed into giving up his prize. Poor drooled-upon Smidge was most unhappy and quite wet. There was momentary panic when they discovered one foot (still in its shoe) was missing, but where he’d paused, they found her foot (they are magnetic and meant to come off, though only intentionally). She was relieved by the reattachment but insisted that she needed new hairs. I don’t think she ever wore the old hair again.
Leo once managed to get his head stuck in a cracker box (he wanted a snack and helped himself), and his favorite foods were peanut butter and cheese. Actually, most foods were his favorite. He liked his eats. His favorite place was the back of the sofa where he could look out the window at the wildlife. His least favorite thing was the driveway alarm that made him hunger to destroy any approaching UPS driver and his truck.
Early in his formal training, it became obvious that Leo was not to be the under-dog but the Alpha. The trainer actually tried to teach Auntie Glenda and Uncle GT to growl at him in an attempt to teach him that he was not the boss, they were. It didn’t work.
At some point Leo lost his ability to control his bladder and tended to pee pretty much everywhere, including on you if you happened to be in the vicinity of his travels, so he was aquired a selection of belly bands with a sort of diaper liner to prevent any dribbles. He looked quite fashionable in his myriad of colored fabric bands that stood out in stark contrast to his white fur. But he was quite good about holding still long enough Velcro one on or to take one off before going outside or getting into his crate.
Was he a problem dog. Well, yes he was. He could be quite annoying. Was he loved? Absolutely. Always. Even when he misbehaved or whined incessantly because he thought all humans were meant to give him constant attention and so whined when they didn’t, he was loved. He had only to cock his head to one side and fix his watery black-olive eyes on you, and you melted. All of his quirks made up the super dog that he was, for good or bad, just like people. None of us is perfect; we are who we are, he was who he was. We are loved for who we are and in spite of who we are, and so was Leo.
Leo Cooper, you live on in our memories: we will never forget.