Welcome to The Levi and Cooper Chronicles. I'm the 'Cooper' and my baby brother is the 'Levi.' We're not siblings in the literal sense of the word. He's a miniature schnauzer and I'm a miniature poodle but our differences go far beyond our breed. You see, I'm the famous angel dog who blogs from the Rainbow Bridge. Well, not famous down on earth but up here in doggie heaven all canines get to do whatever we like and I like blogging. We dogaroons up here can also gaze down through the magic water under the bridge and keep tabs on our humans. Isn't that cool! After I discovered the magic water, I decided that little Levi---who got adopted into the family shortly after my departure from earth---could use a guardian angel. When he blogs he types in pink and when I put my two cents worth in I type in blue.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ear Wax Snacks

My people went some place called the YMCA today. It sounds like a place where they torture humans with water and machines. They came home smelling all sweaty like they'd been chained behind a moving car and had to keep up running or die trying.

They also came home with a piece of metal that Mom put in her mouth and blew on. What a shock that was! I've been losing my hearing this past year but I could hear that whistle thing. As my mom blew in it, she did some crazy motions with her hands. Twice I went over to her to see what was going on and she praised me as if I'd done something special. Then she said to my dad, "This is going to work!" And she added that she wished it would work on him as well and he laughed. I still don't understand what that was all about. Humans are strange.

A few years ago my dad got something called hearing aids and once he took one out of his ear while talking on the phone. It smelled so good that I just had to see if it tasted as good as it smelled. I had just barely cracked the outer shell when my mom freaked out and fished the waxy treat out of my mouth. It was a long time before I got a chance to try eating one again. That time, I got to savor it for a long time and when my mom finally found what was left of it, in the corner where I hide my loot, she said it looked like a piece of chewing gum with a wire sticking out. I thought I was going to get in trouble like I did the first time, but to my surprise my dad was the one who got bawled out. Maybe my mom thought he was the one who chewed the hearing aid. I don't know, but I felt bad that Dad got in trouble for something that I did. ©

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

People Beds

I've got this thing about beds. I like to be underneath them. Oh, and did I get in trouble the first time I discovered how much fun that could be. I was just three months old and it was in a motel. I was on my very first vacation, going west to see the mountains. I didn't even have to belly crawl to scoot around down there. It was a jolly good time playing hide and seek until Mom and Dad got so exasperated trying to catch me that Dad huffed and puffed to lift the mattresses up and Mom snatched me off the floor. I spent a lot of time in the motel bathroom after that. That's when I first became acquainted with baby gates. I hate those things.

For many years my mom had an Early American bed that sat high off the floor and my cushy dog bed sat underneath it. Being close at night in a warm place where I could spread out and keep all my toys near by was my utopia for years. Then we moved to this placed called a wheelchair accessible house and my folks spend a lot of time getting the height of the bed just right for my dad to make transfers in and out of bed by himself. I miss that old high bed, though, and my bunker underneath. The new one is so low to the ground I have to belly crawl under it and half the time I get stuck down there.

Not so long ago, I crawled under the bed in the middle of the night looking Kleenex and ear plugs and you guessed it, I got stuck. Again. I cried a little---or a lot depending on whose telling the story---and it woke Mom up. I admit it was kind of scary. She had put plastic boxes under the bed, trying to make it hard for me find room enough to access that space. I fooled her, I got in under there that night, but I couldn't turn around to crawl back out. Mom ended up having to wake my dad up, get him in the wheelchair so she could lift the mattresses up to free me. After that happened, I got banned to staying in the kitchen and laundry room at night, behind the wicked baby gate. Have I mentioned that I hate baby gates? They could at least have the decency to call mine a dog gate in my presence. ©

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Sock Fetish

My mom is fond of quoting an old Ann Landers column that goes something like this: "Old people talk about the past because they have no future and young people talk about the future because they have no past." That must be true for canines, too, because the older I get the more I think about the past and how I got started doing some of the things I do.

For example, I've had a sock fetish for as far back as I can remember. It started when I was a wee little tyke. I was lightening fast and could snatch a sock out of my mom's hand when she'd be trying to put it on. Nothing got my heart going better in the morning than a good run through the house with mom close on my tail. Over the years she got better at 'defensive sock applications' so I got better at finding them at night when she'd take them off. I'd drag them off while she was sleeping and hide them in the couch cushions or under my bed and a few times I even managed to sneak them outside. I did the same with Dad's socks whenever I could.

Now that I'm an old guy with slower reactions I've finally managed to get my mom trained to just throw me her socks when she takes them off. She knows I don't have the strength anymore to go looking for them in her shoes or the laundry basket. Now, I catch them and run off with Dad laughing as I make my great escape.

The oddest thing about my sock fetish, though, is something I don't understand. I hear my dad and mom talk glowingly about how smart I am that I quit snatching Dad's socks when he started using a wheelchair. Why do I get praised for that? Do they think I'm the type of dog who could be a sadistic bastard and make Dad roll all over the house looking for socks that I've hidden? If I live to be twenty, I'll never figure humans out.

Mom and Dad left me alone a lot this week while they hung around the hospital getting Dad's heart check out. I don't know why they just don't use my veterinary. She's closer to home and what took mom and dad two days to accomplish, my vet did for me in an hour and a half. The bottom line is our tickers are wearing out. Dad's not on prescription food or had an accident on the carpeting yet so I guess my heart and kidneys must be a little worse than his. But the biggest reason I think I'm in worse shape than dad is the fact that I've caught Mom looking at rescue puppies on the internet, but I haven't caught her looking for rescue husbands yet. Things like that can't help but scare me, so instead of thinking about the future I day-dream about my happy past. ©

Friday, March 14, 2008

Daddy's Little Service Dog

Something bad happened to my dad just before my seventh birthday. He went away for three months and when he came home, he couldn't walk or talk. He's had a chair on wheels every since and it didn't take me long to figure out that I could walk right underneath it. That route came in handy as a shortcut. Dad and his wheelchair take up a lot of room and he likes to park right in doorways which once made my mom say she wished she could do my trick. I don't do it much anymore, now that I'm pushing sixteen, but it sure made my dad laugh back when I was younger.

So that's how it came about, my switching from being a mom's boy to being daddy's helper. From my seventh birthday on I took it upon myself to keep Dad company whenever he sits in his La-Z-Boy. I think mom felt abandoned at first but she said Dad needed me more so she got used to it. It also became my job to make sure that Dad felt needed. I did that by making him my exclusive go-to human for treats. That was clever of me, don't you think?

But my most important job involved that circus trick I told you about in my last blog entry---walking on my back legs. Dad did learn to stand up again and once a day he leans on a metal stick and tries to see if he can walk to the kitchen while my mom follows close behind with the wheelchair. He wobbles and he's very slow but I do my best to encourage him. I stand up straight on my back legs and hop backwards as he steps forward. Now days, I can only go about five or six feet before my arthritis kicks in but Mom and Dad appreciate that I still try to help. I probably shouldn't brag but I once heard Mom tell someone that my Dad's physical therapist got goose bumps when he heard about me helping dad with his homework.

I'm not a certified service dog but I'll bet I could be...if only I could learn how to reprogram the TV remote when Dad drops it on the floor. ©

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No Tutu and Rhinestones for Me

I joined the family seven or eight weeks after my predecessor died of cancer and once I heard my mom tell my dad that she had gotten me too soon. She hadn't finished mourning Jason, a twelve year old beige poodle who passed over to the other side while still in her arms. He was a skinny rack of bones by then and they say he was a wise old man all of his life.

With all do respect to the dead, Jason couldn't have been very smart. Back then, my mom had a book on how to train poodles to do circus tricks and he just went along with the program. I'm told he'd jumped through hoops, rolled over on queue and could do the obedience training routine in his sleep. Yadda, yadda, yadda. That's just wrong. Dogs---especially macho dogs like me---aren't supposed to be counting with their paws and playing the shell game with humans. Not me. I was smart enough to call my time my own and do what dogs are supposed to do. Make trouble. They even called me the Trouble Bubble when I was a pup. I'm kind of proud of that.

The only circus trick I didn't mind learning was walking on my back legs. That was fun and it earned me another neat nick name. Back before I became sway-backed and pot-bellied I was lean and lanky and dad said I looked like the Pink Panther when I'd walk around on my back legs, my front paws dangling precariously in front of me. He called me that for years. I didn't walk that way to please mom and dad. I was up there looking to see what was on top of the tables. It was also the best way to follow flying insects around. One time mom purposely let a fly in the house for me to play with because, she said, it was the only thing that kept me busy and out of trouble for any length of time. Those were the good old days before arthritis got to my joints.

Looking back over my puppy-hood, it's been one helluva ride and I think I've lived longer than Jason did because I didn't brown nose as much when it came to learning circus tricks. Working for your kibble ages you and if a poodle isn't careful he'll find himself wearing a tutu and a rhinestone collar. My folks didn't make Jason wear those things but he sure had a lot of sweaters when he died. ©

Photo: poster from allposter.com

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Me and the Bees

The first time I discovered bees they were coming out of a hole in the ground. Those curious little creatures caught my attention with their buzzing and I wanted to see where they were going down there. I dug and scattered dirt in my wake and still I couldn't find the bottom of the hole, but those bees were getting a little testy with my presence. So did my mom when she saw what I was doing. I found out later that she's allergic to bees, which I gather is a bad thing, but even still she didn't need to do what she did.

Mom took the garden hose and was spraying me and the bees with ice cold water while she literally yanked on my chain to reel me in like a fish on a line---and just when I was starting to have fun with my new playmates. I thought for sure when my dad rushed out to get into the action, he'd be more understanding. Dad's always been my go-to man when I want to play. But he apparently hates bees more than my mom because he took a can of gas out of the garage and did something that to this day takes the piss and vinegar right out of me when I think of the carnage that followed. Dad poured gas down the bee's hole in the ground then took his cigarette lighter and lit it on fire. I never saw those buzzy little creatures in my territory again. ©

Painting: Fire on the Hill by Anchise Picchi

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Doggie Shrink Sessions

Did I ever tell you about the time I met a pack of German Shepherds and a shrink? It happened out in the sticks and my dad said the place looked like a Paramilitary or Michigan Militia compound. It wasn't, though. As near as I could figure out, the guy who owned the place trained dogs who needed to work for a living. My vet had sent us out there to meet who my mom called Dr. Spock of Dogdom. He was an animal behaviorist who specialized in problem dogs. At nine months old, already I had earned that label even as tiny, cute and cuddly as I was. I had completed puppy pre-school and obedience training but my mom was getting worried because when I played I used to bite all the time, among lesser offenses in the world of humans.

Dr. Spock of Dogdom was the sternest person I ever met in my whole life. None of my puppy antics could make him crack a smile. He asked questions about my birth mother---he called her a bitch and I didn't like that very well. He wanted to know about my adoption day when I was just barely five weeks old. Then he had my adoptive mom show him what we'd learned at obedience school and how we played together. I even had to mix it up with some German Shepherds puppies and God, let me tell you that was the scarcest moment in my young life! I didn't like the canine mixers at obedience school much either. To me, humans were a lot more fun.

Mom told him about my worthless time-out cage and he told her about a shock collar he could use if I didn't straighten out by my next appointment. A shock collar! I could tell by the way a few of those German Shepherds reacted to those words that I didn't want one of those 'shocky' things. That's when I decided to pay attention to what this guy had to say for fear my parents would leave me there to learn how to be a junk yard guard dog or something more ominous than that. Working for my kibble didn't have much appeal to me plus those big dogs could have eaten me for breakfast and still been hungry afterwards.

At home over the next month my adoptive mom practiced what she called her 'alpha dog voice' and I spent a lot of time in my time-out cage. Back then, I wasn't too sure if Dr. Spock had given mom any better advice than the obedience instructor had. The woman had my mom bite me whenever I bit her. I never did get the point of that exercise and mom seemed embarrassed when she had to explain why I was covered with lipstick. But finally the principle of 'cause and effect' did kick in and I figured out if I bit mom I couldn't spend as much time in her company. I love my mom.

By the time I had to go back to Dr. Spock he pronounced me improved enough that we didn't need the shock collar. Thank heavens. Even as well behaved as I was that day, he still didn't crack a smile. The German Shepherds seemed happy to see my again, though, but I was sure glad I never had to visit those big guys or that stern shrink ever again. ©

My Slide Show

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Parrot Puppy

When I was young they nick-named me 'Parrot Puppy' because I had a habit of running up people's shirts to sit on their shoulders. To this day I don't understand why that made everyone laugh. I could see the world better up there and face licking was so much easier. I learned that trick the first time I went to the groomers. Those clippers scared me and it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I couldn't jump down off the table without hanging myself but I sure could crawl up and sit on her shoulder. For some reason, the clippers couldn't get to me up there.

I've had the same groomer all my life---15 ½ years---followed her all around town. It took me the longest time to appreciate the finer points of getting a haircut and I gave that woman holly hell in the meantime. My mom says the foo-foo shop she works at now is too expensive at $45.00 plus tip but she won't make me leave Marcia. For years, mom and dad said it wasn't fair to Marcia to change groomers after all she had to put up with in my early years. They used to say that Marcia looked like she'd been through a war after cutting my hair. One time it really wasn't my fault, though. I had to poop and she wouldn't let me off the table!

When I got to be around six-seven pounds my mom went on a mission to clip Parrot Puppy's wings. It was quite a test of wills but I eventually let her win because crawling up on shoulders was getting harder to do, being the growing boy that I was. But I didn't forget the skill. Sometime I'll tell you about my run-in with a monster cat. ©

Photos: Before and after my first haircut