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  • G. L. Gooding

Cooper’s Winter

You all may have thought Cooper must have hibernated through his second winter with us. Last year was a tough winter for us all, lots of snow, cold, wind, etc. It was also the winter where Cooper had a bit of surgery that he didn’t enjoy for several reasons. His recovery ate and time at a kennel while Sarah and I went to Florida for two weeks, meant he missed some of the worst weather.

Before we even got through the fall, Cooper and his parents discovering that Chagrin Falls has a good supply of various vermin like squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, deer, oh, and SKUNKS. Cooper quickly discovered that the cute little black and white animal was not a new playmate. He got sprayed mainly right in the face. Most of you probably know what followed. Suffice it to say, it was early March before the odor was completely gone.

The weather then turned wintery even though it officially hadn’t arrived. December came in with bitter cold and snow for that time of year, and we braced for the worst. The day it was minus-one, Cooper appreciated his heavier coat and the plaid-jacket we’d bought him. On the trip around the block, he tried his best to keep his paws off the ice and snow while looking unhappily back at me with his piercing human like eyes. The rest of that day, he resisted going out, choosing to cross his legs as long as he could.

The next week, however, brought a return to unseasonably warm weather. The snow was soon gone. Cooper was delighted to have his large backyard back. We even got in some good ball tossing and retrieval. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that Cooper, being part lab and under two, was willing and able to chase the ball around the yard and bring it back for more endlessly. One of those unusually warm December days, I counted over 100 round trips.

Cooper had a good holiday season filled with new toys and some special goodies. We received a special gif of a red hat with fur trim and a red scarf, which made a wonder holiday picture. Cooper didn’t like it one bit. It took a good while to get one decent picture with hat and scarf in place. In the picture, he is one again giving us an unhappy look. Still, with decent weather, he was quick to forgive the trauma.

January continued the generally mild weather for northeast Ohio. There was a few snows, all less than three inches save one of five. Each was followed by weather in the forties and beyond melting the snow in less than a day. So, Cooper was in a constant state of confusion. One day he pranced through a few inches of white in the already warming day. The next he was back on the dormant grass. He did love getting in more walks and play then should have been possible.

February brought Cooper’s 2nd birthday. He wore his regalia from his first birthday. He didn’t like it much and certainly didn’t notice he was wearing retreads. He got a special cake that took him moments to devour and much longer to clean of the hardwood. A couple of days later, Sarah and I were off to Florida again, and Cooper headed back to his kennel. He had a great time there (we could watch long distance) but was pleased at our return.

March came in like a lamb and brought a visit of our California family, Ben, Mary Beth, and baby Augie for a short visit. They were joined for one day by our son Jamie, wife Annie, and baby Rhys. It was a three-ring circus with the two-toddlers, tons of toys, and one ecstatic dog. Cooper was incredibly well mannered (most of the time). A few toys were too tempting, and there was an awful lot of toe, hand, and face licking. This resulted in several trips to his crate, head hanging.

At the end of this night of joyful mayhem when the babies were off to bed, Cooper came to Sarah sitting in her chair and jumped in her lap. This was not a routine behavior. He lay across her lap, seemed to sigh, then yawned several time. After glancing up at Sarah and giving her a single lick on the cheek, he jumped down and put himself in his crate. He was exhausted.

That brings us to April, which also came in like a lamb with a few showers. We even had a few days in the 80s. Everything turned blossomed, turned green, and grew like topsy. Cooper felt that winter was surely over. He found his favorite shady places on the patio and sun-dappled spots on the deck. And more light meant more outside time and walks. Then the real April returned. As I write this, we expect eight days of rain and temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

Now Cooper is confused and, worse, inside again too much. So I sat down with him a day or so ago and pointed out that each year is different. Next year may we may be buried in snow and frozen like ice cubes. He didn’t seem to understand the part about the snow, but he likes ice cubes, so that pleased him, I think. At least he spent most of the conversation tilting his head one and the other, which is way too cute


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