From the Archive: Cooper’s Surprise


We are working in the back yard this morning. We got up early–well, sort of–and tried to get as much weed pulling done before it gone hot. But 9, 10, and then 10:30 came and the sun started beating down. We thought about jumping in the pool, and that led us to think about our two poor pups without sweat glands panting in the sun.

Connor is our athlete, our overachiever. Our vet, Dr. Jones, thinks he is the perfect dog. He doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. He loves to run, he loves to bark and chase birds–especially one particular buzzard who sits on a power pole over the back yard and torments him. And he loves to play in the water. When it rains, he runs outside and barks at the falling rain. The neighbors think he’s crazy. Last year, when I bought my two kayaks, we took them to the river to try them out. Connor saw me out there and wanted to join me. I called him and he ran through the water toward me. Everything was fine until it got too deep. When he realized he had to swim, he turned around and headed back to shore.

While Connor is the overachiever, Cooper is the couch potato. When we got him at the pound two years ago, they told us they thought he was part Border Collie. That gave us hope that he would be a smart dog. Despite what my daughter thinks, he is. He quickly picked up tricks when we took him to Obedience School as a puppy. The trouble is, he’s lazy. His favorite thing in the world are “bones,” what we call cookies. Every night when Shelly get home, he parks himself in front of her and scratches at her. She resists him for a long time, telling him to leave her alone. But eventually she always gives in and gets both Connor and Cooper cookies.

Both of the dogs love treats, but Connor wears them off running and playing in the yard. Cooper doesn’t, and now he weighs twice as much as Connor. Connor has always been the alpha dog, but lately that position has been somewhat up for grabs.

Yesterday we took Connor and Cooper in the pickup over to Cleburne State Park. We found a secluded entry into the lake and went swimming. Our overachiever got his legs and belly wet and then reluctantly swam out about ten feet before turning back. Cooper, our couch potato, discovered something. The extra fat he carried around was good for something after all. It helped him float better, and swimming was a lot easier. To our surprise, our couch potato was the star swimmer. While we swam out far into the lake–perhaps a 100 feet–Cooper decided to join us. We didn’t let him get way out in the lake–we met him half way–but he was determined to swim out where we were. For the rest of the afternoon, the couch potato found something he was really good at.

I’m languishing in the pool, cooling off, watching Connor bark at the sprinkler and run through the falling water. I turn to my right and see Cooper, lying in the grass. He’s back to his couch potato ways. But wait: is that a smile on his doggy face?

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