Ellie the Cat, 2004(?)-2014


Well, our little Ellie passed away last night, the poor dear. Cancer wins again, and while I keep telling myself there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent that, I am beating myself up a little bit over the fact that she died on her own, likely suffocating to death. We knew from the chest x-rays a couple weeks ago that Ellie had metastatic mammary cancer. The Inguinal and Caudial Abdominal glands on her right side were sporting serious tumors, and there was fluid buildup around her lungs. Our excellent Veterinarian was totally straight with me when we reviewed everything last month; surgery was off the table, and chemo was largely pointless--the enemy had simply advanced too far, and…

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Thank You, Contributors!


Thanks to all who contributed to my fundraising efforts for the 2010 Cause for Paws, benefiting the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. About 500 people (plus dogs!) participated in either the run or the walk, and together we raised $50K to help the shelter help animals and their owners alike. Team Hooper (Hooper, Rob & Brenda) did the walk, and it was fairly hysterical to see what amounted to a giant dog walk unfold on the paths around Boulder on a beautiful day. After the walking, there was food, music, dog massage, and Hoop even got to refresh his chops on the agility course, which led to the funniest event of the day. Hooper tried the "chute" obstacle, which is…

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Cause for Paws 2010 Pledge Request


Hi folks; asking for money. It's not for me, it's for the animals. I am raising pledges for A Cause for Paws Doggie Dash on September 11th. Your support will help the Humane Society of Boulder Valley provide food, shelter, medical treatment and behavioral rehabilitation to animals in need. I'm not gonna pull a Sarah McLachlan on you and show you a bunch of doggie and kitty sad-eyes here, I'm just going to appeal to your greater sense of kindness and throw on a heaping dose of guilt. I was baptized as a Catholic, after all. That shit works. Some of you may know that my beloved dog Hooper was sprung out of the Boulder Humane Society a few years…

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Agile Hooper


We've been talking about doing this for months and months, and finally did it. We enrolled Hooper in a beginner's dog agility class at the Boulder Humane Society, starting up in a couple weeks. Hoop spent half the morning running and jumping in the ballfield today, and we've long thought that Hooper would be a natural at agility trials. And even if he sucks at it, we figure he'll have a good time trying to not suck at it. And so, on November 12th, Hooper will show up for class once again at the Boulder Humane Society and hopefully will ace his classes!…

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A Weekend of Dog


Man, I'm wiped out. So's my dog. This weekend I racked up a whole bunch of great experiences with Hooper, and we (and Brenda) are all tired out! Hooper ran with Jasper and Jackson for about an hour straight Saturday morning, which warmed my heart as I watched him interact with other dogs instead of just playing fetch. Last night, pissed that I didn't have my camera to document the aforementioned morning trot with the cattle dogs, I brought my camera and got some nice pics of Hoop and the local pack having their usual fun. And today, Brenda, Hooper & I hiked up to Lost Lake near Eldora and enjoyed being outside, the three of us. I love this…

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Happy Birthday, Hooper!


Today is Hooper's second birthday--sort-of. I mean, today is the day Brenda & I selected to represent that milestone for him; since he was a stray, we really don't know the day, but we know the general vicinity of the day based on his development when we adopted him a year and a half ago. And what a year and a half that's been. Hooper is my buddy, my dog, and I love him. It hurts to leave him behind when I go to work in the morning, every single time. He has me studying biology for chrissake. He has, quite literally, changed my life. Happy birthday buddy!…

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Good News


I don't know that I did much more than allude to it, but Hooper hurt his knee a few weeks back, and we've been walking on eggshells ever since. He wiped out chasing a ball in the ballfield, and when he came up he was holding his right hind leg up for several seconds. I started running over to him and he immediately began to "walk it off", in a manner that would have impressed Mr. Tezak, my ninth grade gym teacher. Thinking I'd dodged a bullet, we kept playing but I could see that when he would run around he would "bunny hop" with his hind legs, favoring the injury. Brenda & I backed off of his usual 2…

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As bad as I Thought


Well, I got my transcript from my undergraduate institution, the first step in ascertaining just how badly I messed up my first pass at "College". Answer: 2.672. My first thought was that level of decimal accuracy was totally unnecessary. Yeah, I fucked up. Yeah, this is a major setback. Yeah, I aced my last two biology quizzes. Fuck it, I'll get it done.…

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Mind the Gap


Well, Hooper had a long day, but he's home, he's sleeping, and he's minus one tooth. The remains of one of his upper incisors were removed--in pieces--from Hooper's skull, and he now has "character" in the form of a gap in his toothy facade. He wobbled around the living room and made us all nervous on the stairs, but he quickly flopped on his bed and slept while I read a biology textbook. It's been pretty amazing to watch him be so mellow, and no one is more intrigued than Ellie, our cat. At long last, Ellie could inspect this odd creature with impunity, and she took full advantage. I hand-fed him his entire dinner, and I think at this…

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Ouch!


Tonight in my biology class, I got my first test results back. Ace. My instructor even wrote on my quiz: "Good; I think this vet thing might be doable", and encouraged me to take a chemistry class as soon as possible. Then I got a text message from Brenda, asking me to come home right after class because Hooper broke his tooth playing at the ballfield. When you study stuff like this, sometimes it's hard to see the real world relevance to your work. But tonight, Hooper reminded me of why I'm doing this. And so as soon as I could, I drove home and we all rode over to the 24-hour animal hospital. Sure enough, one of Hoop's incisors…

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Hooper Takes a Dip


Ahh, Boulder. Scott Carpenter Park, just around the corner from our house, has a public municipal swimming pool that keeps the kids cool all summer. Now that summer is over, the pool is officially closed for the season--to people. Boulder being dog-crazy Boulder, that does not mean the pool is yet closed for good to all creatures, though. No, after a de-clorination process last week, the pool was officially open to dogs starting this weekend and extending to next weekend. Yeah (woof)! Naturally, upon hearing of this insanity, we made plans to participate. We arrived at the pool parking lot Saturday afternoon--surrounded by vehicles with filthy pickup beds and festooned with decals like "my Border Collie is smarter than your…

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Merle's Door


I finished reading Merle's Door last night; I cried like a baby through the last forty pages. At this point, since bringing Hooper home, I have read about a dozen or more books about dogs: dog training, dog breeds, dog behavior, dog health care, dogs; the last category includes your typical dog memoir or reflection on living pets, and so far Ted Kerasote's book totally nails it. Granted, Merle is a fantastic dog, living in fantastic conditions, but the story is still a real rags to riches story, rife with dog care and training tips--and, what I feel is one of the most important skills required of any dog owner, observational tips. Ethologists will piss all over this book as…

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Hooper, the Patron Saint of Kids Afraid of Dogs


Brenda, Hooper & I all piled into the car today for a drive to Denver, to attend a birthday party for some friends of ours. Partners Greg & Ted share birthdays a day apart. Greg aged a year today, and Ted did the same yesterday. And so a joint birthday picnic/barbecue in the park near the Denver Zoo was in order, with dogs. Greg & Ted have a pair of winning canines; Guinness the Pug, and Lucy the Mutt (I used to threaten to kidnap Lucy and take her home with us from their parties ever since we moved to Boulder; she is adorable and built just like Hooper). Many of their other friends have dogs as well, and…

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A Year of Hooper


One year ago today, Brenda & I brought Hooper home from the Boulder Humane Society. What a year it's been. Freshly grieving over the loss of our cat Emma, we both fell in love with this little, black Labradorish-looking puppy, and brought him home with us. He was afraid of his own shadow, afraid to get into the car, hopping on all the furniture. A couple days later, he (we) learned his first command, "sit". I went on a streak of dog book purchasing, which continues to this day. We purchased dog toys and treats like they were crack, and the high of watching our dog take to these things with varying degrees of interest was equally addictive. We discovered…

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Emma: One Year


Emma was Brenda's pet cat. Well, that's what she started out as. Brenda got her shortly after the two of us got together, and Emma immediately spent much of her time showing her displeasure at having to share Brenda with me (especially the first year, when I was finishing school and Brenda often left Emma alone in her apartment while visiting me at school). But in those first few years after Brenda got her, I also took care of Emma during the summers when Brenda was off doing summer theatre gigs. I quickly became very attached to her, as, I believe, Emma got attached to me. We sorted each other out. In total, the three of us went through almost…

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Mutt Components


So, now we know. Through the wonders of science and marketing, I was recently able to get the final word on Hooper's genetic makeup. Two weeks ago, I had to take Hooper to the vet for his rabies and distemper shots, and I seized the opportunity to have them also draw blood for the Wisdom Panel DNA test. This test, a fairly new offering in the veterinary community, can identify the genetic markers of 134 AKC-recognized dog breeds from a blood sample. The price has dropped somewhat, to a still-expensive $120, but I thought it would be fun to know exactly what's goin' on there in Hooper's genetic makeup. So I said what the hell. The test consists of drawing…

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News: Heartless Bitches can Raise Children and Pets (or, why I want to be a vet)


This shit makes me crazy. The local paper ran an article today about the booming pet care business, especially in dog-crazy Boulder. Here in Boulder, there is a "law" that encourages Boulder pet owners to refer to themselves as their pet's "guardians", not "owners". You know how I feel about this one; I have a receipt. But it gives you an idea of the mentality Boulder residents have towards their pets, and in general I think it's great. Here, our dogs are our kids. They hike (off-leash) with us, they frolic in the many dog parks, they are welcome in many businesses, not just the multitude of pet stores and pet bakeries (yes, pet bakeries), and they are everywhere. In…

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Dog Math


This: Plus this: Equals this: Yeah, that's right, I sprained my ankle dismounting from my longboard at high speed yesterday afternoon. Hoop & I have been getting used to having him pull me around on the board, something I thought he'd enjoy and possibly a fun way to help him burn off some energy. We've been practicing on a stretch of bike path that's nestled between a highway retaining wall and some backyard fences, so it's impossible for Hooper to run off into the street if I have to let go. Another thing we have been practicing is waiting at crosswalks before entering the street. As we approach a curb cut on one of our walks, a simple, firm "wait"…

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Basta


Hooper is a licker. In recent days, the temperatures have soared to the point where I wore shorts to work today. Never mind that it is supposed to snow here tomorrow, in April you take advantage of the warm sunny days. So I wore shorts today, and that means Hooper was licking my legs (and up my shorts) whenever I was in the vicinity. With our dear friends Dierdre and Evan coming this weekend with their three kids in tow, I started thinking it might might be a good time to teach Hooper that the vigorous licking, while appreciated, is not always appropriate. And so we have embarked on our latest "trick", the training of "stop licking". Brenda & I…

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Line


This is cool. What we got here is the last remnants of the 8" of snow that dumped on Boulder yesterday. The Colorado sun came out in force today, melting most of the white stuff; the final traces are hanging tough here in the shadow cast by the ballfield fence, all nice and neat in a line, while Hooper and Lulu watch in despair as Jeannie and the other woman walk away with their dogs Joplin and Kyla: Just goes to show you what a little shading can do in terms of reducing the amount of direct beam solar radiation that affects a given area. P.S. The bits of snow missing in the foreground were eaten by Hooper. No…

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In Praise of Mutts


Sitting here reading Bark Magazine (which I realize outs me as an insane dog lover more than any of my previous admissions), I came across a quote: "A mutt is a dog. He is the stuff of dogginess, a creature allied to species, not breed, and untrammeled by human hand or preference. A mutt knows that you have chosen him for himself, and not because he is of the type you set out to get." Well put. Yesterday, Brenda & I (and Hooper) watched the Eukanuba dog show and couldn't help but feel a bit of a slight, knowing that as great a dog as Hooper is, we could never show him in such an event because he's not a…

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Winter Hike, Hooper's Birthday


Today is Hooper's birthday, making Hooper one year old! In truth, we brought him home at six months of age, and he was picked up as a stray in Utah sometime before that, so unfortunately we really don't know the exact circumstances or conditions of his conception, birth and early development. The vet guessed he was six months old, based on his teeth, when we took him in or his first checkup in early August. So we counted back from there and picked Groundhog Day as his "birthday". In truth we'll never know, and we don't care. Just as we'll never really know his genetic makeup. He's Hooper the Dog, he's ours, he's one today, and we love him. So…

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Shoulda Named Him Pele


Hooper is a soccer wunderkind. Like all of his other traits/habits/skills, we discovered this over time. It started with a yellow "utility ball" we found in the snow in November, a forgotten castaway from an Aurora 7 Elementary School recess. Upon discovering the lost ball languishing on top of the fresh snow at the schoolyard after one of the first snowfalls of the season here in Boulder, I kicked it toward the ballfield and Hooper immediately recognized the potential. We ran toward the ballfield gate, kicking the ball along, and once we got inside, a game of keep-away/get-the-ball-past-the-dog ensued, for far longer than it should have. Since that time, a number of balls (soccer balls, utility balls,…

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Bacon Baking


Well, it's official. I am fucking crazy. At the ballfield tonight, exercising the dog, my neighbor Jeannie whipped out some treats for Hooper and her dog Joplin. She mentioned they were homemade. Instead of saying "take your homemade, organic, fair trade dog treats and your sixties-icon-named-after dog and get the hell out of here, hippie", I said "oh really? That sounds like a good idea, all-natural and all". Still not totally convinced this was anything I wanted to get involved in, I went home and did as she instructed, and Googled "homemade dog treats". After perusing a few that seemed like more trouble than they were worth, I stumbled across these little babies, called Bacon Bites. In other words, bacon…

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Update in Photos


Life goes on around here, the main story being the cat and dog, who continue to work through their issues. The gate remains, but Ellie is definitely interested in coming down and joining us. If only that damned dog wasn't down here: When one of us does take Hooper out for a walk, Ellie is quick to come down, hurdle the gate, and start exploring the lower levels. Of course, she likes to do this from up high, like on top of the kitchen cabinets: Hooper finally got his own bed, but currently he believes it to be a giant expensive chew toy. Deep down, he knows what he's supposed to do on it, and eventually he settles down and…

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Poop Politics


Now that my wife and I own a dog, we have the pleasure of walking him, and picking up his deuces. One day recently I was out walking Hooper on his pee track (the short circuit around the public walkways in front of my condo) and he dropped a deuce on me, unsuspectingly. I had no poop bag. lesson learned. But I can tell you this, I went back in the house, got a bag and hunted Hooper's package down like the minefield clearers of Bosnia. Because I really have always hated people who leave their dog's crap in ball fields and on lawns. I don't want to be that guy. And so you can imagine my disgust last night…

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Meet Noelle (We Call her Ellie)


Say hello to Ellie: Yes, we got another cat. On December 23rd. And we named her Noelle, a play on the season. But this was not an impulse buy. Brenda & I have talked about getting another cat since the dawn of discussions about life after Emma. We actually had a kitten on hold the same time we had Hooper on hold, but we decided one thing at a time. But as time wore on, we thought we should add a cat to the mix sooner than later, lest Hooper get too used to the idea of being the sole recipient of our attention. And so, Noelle, a.k.a. Ellie. She's three years old, and recently gave birth to…

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Winter Ascent of Mount Audubon (with Hooper!)


Any doubts about Hooper's hiking abilities, including high altitude, cold/snow, distance, have been put to rest. Hooper is a wonder dog. With the holiday weekend winding down, and with the entire Front Range experiencing a very late start to the snow season, I decided to go up to Brainard Lake and scope out the trail to Mount Audubon, a hike that Brenda & I successfully did last summer. Mount Audubon stands over 13,000' tall, so generally by this time of the year it's totally covered with snow and is a challenge to summit. But with the dearth of snow we've had so far this year, I thought it might be a doable climb, and a great intro for…

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Weekend in the Mountains


It's been a while, again. First off, it's Facebook's fault. That's right, I joined Facebook and I can't seem to stop checking in every day to update my "status" message and see how many friends my friend Lauren has. But, that's not the purpose of this post. Discussion on the insanely silly endeavor of Facebook will surely follow, maybe after Thanksgiving. Anyway, Brenda has been working crazy hours again, and it all came to a head over the last couple-few weeks, and finally ended this past Thursday, when the show she was building some suits for opened at the University of Colorado. And it turns out that the guy who she was working for has a condo in the mountains…

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DDC


DDC. Doggie Day Care. Hooper's there right now. See for yourself right here; click the link for the webcams, and check out the action in play area two. It's a full house today, and there are half a dozen black labs to boot, but you can still spot him; he's the cutest one in the bunch.…

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Doggy Day Care


Six hours, that's what it takes to tire him out. Like, I mean, really tire him out. Hooper spent six hours at Camp Bow-Wow today, his first experience with this so-called doggie day care deal. What a friggin' hoot. Brenda has a bunch of deadlines to meet, and since she's been working from home, half her energy and time is spent managing Hooper during the day. So today we thought it might be a good idea for me to take Hooper off her hands and let her make some headway without poop and and chew-toy distractions. Now, Hoop's spent half-days with me in the office before, but knowing that he starts getting cranky and rambunctious around 3pm we thought maybe…

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Sunday


Best dog picture ever, for now:…

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The Short Sweet Dream of Teddy the Bear


All he wanted to do was to bring happiness and teething relief to a little puppy someplace. Endorsed by the American Kennel Club, this little bear toy came into our home courtesy of my sister Christina. While I thanked her for the gift, I predicted a short stay in the house. The following pictures were taken over the course of ten minutes; swear to god. And Hooper was kinda mellow tonight. If you ever get a squeaky thingy stuck in your anus, Hooper is the guy to get it out in record time: And there you have it, the deconstruction of Teddy. What a great night.…

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A Month of Dog


Hooper has been hanging around the joint for a month now. He's changed our lives. First off, Brenda now gets up at 6:30 a.m. regardless of whether she wants to or not. She's the designated dog driver in the morning, and she's seen some amazing sunrises and met freakish yoga people. Me, I have the night shift, and walk Hooper immediately after arriving home from work. We've met cyclists and weirdo dalmatian owners. We've met a lot of dogs and dog owners in fact, and I know more of the neighborhood dogs by name than the owners; Morgan, Shylo, Hannah, Buster, they are all familiar faces. So are those of their owners, but I'll be damned if they…

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Hoop's First Airshow


Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU) had an open house today. Not an airshow per se, but there were a couple of cool airplanes parked on the ramp (including a very rare two-seat Supermarine Spitfire trainer) for inspection. I took Hooper to the airport for our very first "father-son" type outing. It was great. At one point, a flight of three AT-6 "Texan" aircraft flew overhead, and my friend Michael got a shot of Hooper and I enjoying the show. A few moments later, they all landed and taxied up to where we were, and Hoop didn't even flinch. So, he likes airplanes, even the big, loud, radial-engined ones. I was so proud.…

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One Week


Hooper has been in our house, and our lives, for one week now. I have a week's worth of memories, that include racing to a peeing dog; picking up poop -- both outside and inside; checking under Hoop's belly for evidence of a pee stream in the black of night; begging him to walk as he stares at me on the sidewalk; begging him to stop nipping me in the midst of one of his freak-out sessions; petting and stroking his beautiful coat; sniffing: me him, and he me as well as various piles of poo and god knows what else outside; stressing about his play skills with the two month-old puppy around the corner; stressing about his hips; stressing…

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Hooper Swag


Announcement: Friends and family members, who may be thinking of buying a DVD copy or one-sheet for the 1978 film "Hooper", thinking it would be a great gag gift for us, don't do it. Because I already did.…

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Super Hooper


Kinda makes me want to get him a cape and name him Underdog.…

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I lied; His Name is Hooper.


ANNOUNCEMENT: After half a day as Primo, Hooper is once again Hooper, the name he was granted at the shelter. It just fits, we've decided. And, we can call him HooperSuperDuperPooper this way, which is like, excellent. Besides, unlike most people, when I first heard his name I did not first think of lovable Mister Hooper from Sesame Street, I of course thought of the beer-swilling, bar-fighting rocket car-jumping stuntman Sonny Hooper, played by Burt Reynolds in the 1978 film by the same name. You probably didn't see it. That's OK, but I still recall the credits rolling to a song with the lyric "there ain't nothing like the life of a Hollywood stuntman". And Hooper the Dog definitely resembles…

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His name is Primo


We brought him home today. He was manic for an hour and I thought we'd made a huge mistake, but he calmed down and he's sleeping in his crate in the bedroom right now. I'm downstairs typing this because I don't want to wake anyone. He's adorable. He's afraid of his own reflection in the oven door; he walked into the sliding glass door and the glass around the gas fireplace, but to his credit he only did both of those moves once each. When I go upstairs to pee, he runs downstairs to the front door. He responds to "anh-anh" when he eyes the couch, he's starting to associate treats with good deeds, and I have no idea what…

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