Still Perfect After All These Years

Today, 16 March 2009, is the 12th birthday of a very special boy. Meet Cooper the perfect…

Cooper, age 2
(photo taken May 1999)

I first saw Cooper at the very first Greyhound Gathering in Kanab, Utah, held May 1 and 2, 1999. It was late Saturday night and I was in the Shilo Inn’s conference room. There were only a few people in the room at the time, and only one dog. Right in the middle of the room, a red-fawn Greyhound lay sprawled on his side like he owned the place. Claudia Presto, the Gathering’s organizer and founder of  the Greyhound Gang, stood by the dog talking to a second woman. The second woman was clearly distraught – almost in tears. From what I was able to make of the conversation, the woman had adopted the dog but had to return him because she was having some sort of trouble with him. I left the room soon after and thought nothing more of it.

After the official end of the Gathering on Sunday afternoon, a few of the attendees met at Claudia’s house, including my husband and me. Inside the house, I sat down on a day bed upon which a couple of Greyhounds were already settled. As I took a seat next to a red-fawn boy, he picked up his head and growled at me as if to say “This is my bed and I don’t want to share it with the likes of you.”

One thing I don’t tolerate from dogs is them growling at me, so I took the dog’s muzzle in my hand and stared him down. He stopped growling and looked away. At this point, Claudia got rather excited and asked me if I wanted the dog. “His name is Cooper and he growls at everybody,” she told me.  “You’re the first person I’ve ever seen stand up to him. He needs an owner like you.”

Of course I wanted Cooper (I want them all), but we already had three Greyhounds, which was more than my husband had signed up for when we adopted our first one, and there was absolutely no way we were going to get another dog, especially one with a behavior problem.

To make a long story short, we ended up adopting Cooper anyway. However, we didn’t make the decision to do so until the following week, so we had to drive back up to Kanab the next weekend to pick him up.

Cooper relaxing soon after we brought him home
(May 1999)

As it turned out, not only had we adopted a dog with a behavior problem (growling to get his way – the reason he’d been returned by his previous owner, the distraught lady I’d seen in the conference room on Saturday night), we had also adopted a dog with an ego problem. You see, Cooper is perfect. Just ask him. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the center of the universe… nay, the center of the multiverse. All of the cosmos revolves around him. One of his former owners called him “Apollo” – we should have kept that name as it is more in keeping with his god-like nature.

Cooper, perfection in a Greyhound-shaped package
(May 1999)

Cooper is not like most other retired racing Greyhounds. He injured his left front leg when he was a puppy, damaging the growth plates in his wrist so his leg grew (perfectly) crooked. Because of this, he was never even trained to race. Instead, he ended up in a university veterinary program at a very young age, but was adopted by a vet student before anything unfortunate happened to him. He made his way through several owners (one of whom called him “Linus”!?!?!?) before ending up at the Greyhound Gang, and then coming to live with us soon after his second birthday.

Cooper is very smart. Besides learning not to growl to get his way, he learned to sit, bow, “clop” (snap his teeth together), roll over (to the command “Beethoven”), shake (with both his right and left paws, depending on which you ask for), and other “stupid dog tricks.” When he sees food being handed out, he gets so excited he tries to do all of his tricks at once, which is quite amusing to watch.

Cooper demonstrating the perfect Greyhound sit
(Three Dog Bakery, 30 October 1999)

Being the perfectly conceited creature that he is, Cooper loves to get attention, and not just by doing silly tricks…

Cooper standing on “his” box at the 2001 Arizona Renaissance
Festival – a perfect way to attract attention to his perfection

Of course, Cooper is still a Greyhound, which means he likes to sleep. A lot. And he’s perfectly good at it.

Cooper, perfectly exhausted after returning from
the 2001 Greyhound Gathering in Kanab

Cooper looking perfectly stoopid
(May 2002)

Cooper “sharing” the couch with Rahja
(January 2003)

Cooper “sharing” a bed with Raven
(March 2003)

Cooper’s perfect sleepy smile
(August 2003)

Perfectly piled pillows
(June 2004)

The perfect dead cockroach
(July 2004)

Perfectly adorable at the 2005 Arizona Renaissance Festival

Adorable perfection at the 2007 Arizona Renaissance Festival

Perfectly positioned paws
(December 2007)

A perfectly sized chair for a nap
(January 2008)

Of course, Cooper does more than just sleep. He likes to spread the word about Greyhound adoption using his perfection at various Renaissance faires throughout the southwest United States.

Cooper at the 2001 San Diego Renaissance Faire
“This is my best side…”

“…and so is this.”

Cooper (far left) escorting the Queen at the 2001 San Diego Faire.
No Queen ever had a better escort.

Cooper with one of his many fans at the
2002 Arizona Renaissance Festival

Besides being perfectly stunning to look at, incredibly talented, and having a perfectly deformed leg, Cooper likes to use various health issues to get attention. He has symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy, an autoimmune disease that causes him to form antibodies against his toenails, which in turn causes them to fall off.

In mid-December 2005, he was attacked by another dog (not a Greyhound). Being a perfect pacifist, Cooper refused to fight back and ended up with a very badly damaged rear left leg, plus a bunch of other very bad wounds. The vets thought he might lose his leg; even if they could save it, they estimated it would take months of healing to get it working again. Apparently they hadn’t counted on Cooper’s perfect healing powers. Two weeks (and $7000) later, they sewed up the last of his wounds. Other than a few minor (but perfect) scars and some missing muscle mass in his left thigh, there’s no sign anything ever happened to him.

One evening in May 2006, I gave him a hug only to discover his heart beating incredibly fast for no reason. After 15 minutes, it was still beating way too hard, so I took him to the emergency vet. His heart rate upon admittance was 230. No cause could be found. After a bunch of tests, a couple of hours, and a $1000+ vet bill, his heart rate returned to normal, and it never acted up again. (After that, I got him medical insurance.)

He has since been diagnosed with IVDD (intervertebral disk disease) and a grade 3 heart murmur, neither of which seem to bother or slow down his perfectness.

Cooper playing with packmate, Sergei the Borzoi

“Come and get me, fluffy butt!”
(December 2007)

Cooper playing in the backyard with packmates and friends

(January 2008)

Apparently having an ego as large as Cooper’s requires a lot of water. Cooper refuses to drink from the water bowls that are set out for the dogs. Instead, he will drink only from his private, 10,000-gallon water bowl – the swimming pool.

Cooper sampling the water in his bowl
(March 2002)

Surveying his watery domain
(January 2008)

“Ahhhh, good water.”
(July 2008)

Congratulations, you now know Cooper the perfect – you can die knowing your life has been fulfilled, just like the lucky girls in the picture below:

The perfection continues at the 2009 Arizona Renaissance Festival.

“Have no fear, Cooper-dog is here!”

(Happy birthday, silly boy!)

12 Responses to “Still Perfect After All These Years”

  1. Cooper's "Dad" Says:

    Twelve years!? We’ve had him for almost ten?! Just seems longer. ;-)

  2. oh my. Darling, beautiful Cooper is still so. An absolutely, fabulous testimony to the best Dog. The first Greyhound Gathering – Kanab weekend was the luckiest of my life, as it was for Cooper. Mik Wilkens, with all her talents, created the most wondrous Greyhound Gang web site in 1999 – which helped us get the word out about rescuing hounds, and we’re still here, after all these years.

    May you live long and prosper Mr. Cooper. Thank YOU Mik, for loving them all so well, and for your generosity to Greyhound Gang.

    Much Love,

  3. Auntie Julz Says:

    Perhaps this blog is mistitled? Cooper is “Even More Perfect After All These Years!”

  4. Auntie Carol Says:

    Too perfect for words…but you came close! His Golden Perfection in all his majesty!

  5. Judy Currier Says:

    Happy Birthday gorgeous boy! He is the spitting image of my Delavan, perfect in every way. Thanks for sharing your blog Mik.

  6. Robin Norton Says:

    What a perfectly wonderful story, about a perfectly beautiful boy!
    Although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you in person, Cooper, I feel
    like I know you well! Your Mom & Dad are perfectly lucky to have you in their lives for sure!

  7. What a fantastic blog.
    Big hugs to Cooper and his pals.

  8. Cooper is one lucky boy.
    What a great story. I hope Cooper celebrates more happy birthdays.

  9. Bonnie Diller Says:

    Cooper looks & act so much like our Mercury, who is 10 yrs old. (another mythological god!) I love to see our senior hounds!

  10. Susan Taylor Says:

    I just happened upon your blog … I love the story of Cooper. We’ve had or fostered greyhounds since 1995 and I haven’t met a greyhound I didn’t love! Give Cooper a big kiss for me!

  11. I’ve met Cooper at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Cooper and the other greyhounds are the highlight of the faire (in my opinion)! I look forward to seeing him and the others in 2010!

  12. cindy g. Says:

    Happy b-day Cooper,
    Cindy and the Lange pack.

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