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Stories, History, and Tributes Got a story to tell about your childhood, someone you admired, or some interesting history to share? This is the place!

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Old 01-07-2016, 06:16 PM
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Gerenemo Gerenemo is offline
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Default A Tribute To Cooper "The Super Dog"

It's a little overdue, but as this season closes I just had to give one last shout out to the greatest hunting companion I've ever known.

THE GREATEST GIFT


I didn’t get him as a puppy. He didn’t come to me as a tiny brown ball of fur. I got him in adolescence, thru his owners divorce. As a matter of fact I was going thru a divorce myself. I received a call from my friend Chris saying I had to come see this dog. His customer was going thru a divorce and he had a Chocolate lab about a year and a half old and in his words “I’d give him away for free to someone who would just duck hunt with him”. My friend said I have just the man for you and this is how we got together. I went to see him knowing darn well I was coming back with him no matter what. I had not had a Lab for a while since Lady passed and frankly wasn’t looking. But, thank God for my good fortune, because little did I know on that June evening in 2003 I was getting one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Big, strong, handsome and confident was exactly what I thought when I first laid eyes on him. His owner worked him for me and yes he was well trained. Whistle and hand controlled without fault. I could not believe my luck. His now former owner simply said to me as we loaded him in the rear of my truck to hunt him, that is what he was trained for. I intended to do that, but what I didn’t know then was that this dog was different. A free trained dog, I thought as I drove home, daydreaming of this fall to come. When I got him home for the next several days I began to notice something, this dog was obsessed with retrieving. Not regular passion, but in an almost abnormal way. When he was not retrieving he would pace, pant and whine constantly. Never relaxing or settling down. After a week of this I made a bold decision. I was not going to allow him to retrieve for a period of time. I needed to teach him social skills; we were going to become pals. So every day for weeks, I would spend every spare moment with him, settling him, nurturing him, talking to him, petting him doing everything but retrieving with him. It was necessary for both of us to know each other, trust each other and remind each other there is more to being a dog than being a working machine then just put away. Slowly he came around and began to relax, stop pacing and whining. He would still pick up things for me to throw for him but I stuck to my plan. After about 5 weeks of “therapy”, I took out a training dummy, (you should have seen his eyes light up) brought him to the yard, made him sit and stay, threw it for him once and after he made his retrieve shut it down. We continued this routine until I was confident he was more social. Then we began our journey together of life, joy and happiness for both. Oh, I was always second fiddle to anyone who would play fetch with him, because retrieving was his passion, but he did not yet know we shared a passion that would link us forever.
It was clear and cool that third Saturday in September when Cooper (Oh by the way, his name is Cooper) my dad and I found ourselves in a marsh blind south of Houma, Louisiana anticipating some early teal action. None of us, Including Cooper, knew what to expect from each other. As sunrise approached and we sat quietly, birds of all kinds began to stir. As good bird identification light approached a trio of Blue winged teal banked hard and coasted into the decoys. Shots fired, all 3 birds stayed and Coop was out on his first retrieve for me. A triple marked retrieve for his first for me was impressive, but during his lifetime he by far impressed me more than I ever could have impressed him. This dog I said out loud is something special.
By 2005, his hunting skills were exceptional, his personality was superb. Because duck season is only 60 days, I continued to socialize him to other things besides retrieving work. We played a lot. Together, we learned the difference between a can, a rope, a stick and a Frisbee. I could lay out all four and tell him which one to get and he would get the correct one every time, no matter what order they were called in. Additionally and by accident, we discovered he would dive under water. We were at the camp and my friend threw a can in the water for target practice. After shooting and sinking it, Cooper kept looking at the spot and unable to control himself anymore, dove into the water, circled the spot where the can went down, then bloop, under he went tail up until he disappeared. I freaked momentarily, and then suddenly, he popped up can in mouth much to my friends and my amazement. This became a vital tool for him in the fall when chasing cripples. Cooper and I spent a lot of time together fishing, playing Frisbee (oh how he loved to catch a Frisbee in the air and he was good at it), eating or just enjoying each other, but of course, our favorite times together were spent in a waterfowl blind. We lay together in fields in El campo hunting geese, we shared pit blinds all over the fields of SW Louisiana and slogged thru many a marsh all along the coast of Louisiana taking countless birds and enjoying every moment together. Steady, ever watchful and a nose that could track a bird for hundreds of yards Cooper did not miss many birds. Often other hunters would come get us to find birds other dogs would miss; he sure made me proud when he accomplished this. We even did a few substitute guide trips for my friend Blu Landry (he loved Cooper too) and on one particular trip one of his clients clipped a pintail that sailed about 300 yards landing in a field between our blind and where the truck was parked. We’ll get him on the way out I remarked to the sport and I could see the skepticism on his face. He just didn’t know Cooper. When we got to the area I thought the bird was down I sent him out. As he scanned the area with his nose, when he was satisfied there was no bird there, he would look at me and bark once, it was his way of saying to me “he ain’t here”. As he did this I told the man the bird is not here let’s move on. After sending him out for a third time I the client was prepared to give up on his bird when suddenly, I saw Coop’s tail begin its telling circle motion near a deadfall. As he went into the bramble a wounded but still able to fly Pintail exploded from the other side. The bird’s strength was waning, and the Pintail could only gain about 3’ in altitude and Cooper went full bore after him. After about a 50 yard chase, this amazing animal leapt up and caught that Pintail in mid-air much to the delight and amusement of our client. He has told that story to everyone who has ever hunted with him and on that day he was nicknamed Cooper “The Super Dog”. Playing with a Frisbee had paid off for him.
You don’t recognize it when you spend so much time together but I saw it in 2012 for the first time. I had a friend hunting with me in a rice field near Welsh Louisiana and he clipped a Green Wing Teal that sailed at least 350 yards over several levees. His exact words were, “we’ll never see that bird”. I said nothing, got out of the pit and sent Cooper out. As he got to each subsequent levee he would turn to me for direction and I kept sending him further back. When I was satisfied I had him near the bird, I let him hunt and returned into the pit blind. Minutes passed with no sign of him, after 5 minutes I did begin to worry some. At 10 minutes I was just about to get out of the blind when I saw him coming back. “I guess he gave up” my friend said. I said nothing. As he approached I could see a bird in his mouth, so saying nothing I reached for my phone/camera for a photo. As he got close my all my buddy could say was “I’ll be damn”. I said no you’ve been blessed by the “Super Dog” and I took several photos of that triumphant retrieve. However, when he returned he did something I never saw before, he laid down. That’s when I noticed it for the first time, Cooper the Super Dog was getting old. It seemed as if it happened all at once during that retrieve, gray in the muzzle, red eyes and a slow gait. He left the retriever I always knew and returned old, as if he’d traveled through a time warp. I could hardly keep from crying but held back and for the first time since we have hunted together, I prayed we would shoot no more birds. He needed the rest.
Our last season together 2014-15 was a good one, one more than I thought I’d get and 12 more than I deserved. I had started hunting him selectively since last season and I no longer sent him on long difficult retrieves. We were hunting alone one January morning in a marsh blind in Grand Chenier, Louisiana and I was one bird short. A pair of Mottled ducks strafed the decoys and I shot the rear bird. The bird sailed and hit the water alive. Cooper was off as fast as he could and for a moment I thought about calling him off the retrieve and getting in the boat but I let him go. The bid saw him coming and headed for open water. Dammed, I thought, but stood and watched. Cooper was gaining ground and that duck knew it. Down the drake dove as Cooper closed, and down went Cooper right behind him. One dive was all it took and I could see the pride in that dog’s face on his return with that bird. It was magic and as I stood there with tears in my eyes realizing how fortunate I have been to have had such a friend and companion in my life and knowing in my heart it was probably all going to end soon.
On March 30, 2015 I could hear Cooper yelping in his barn. Cooper could not get up to eat or go to the bathroom. I assisted him to relieve himself and massaged his hips in an attempt to ease his stiffness (This had occurred the day before as well). Once again it was as if the event had happened over night. 3 days earlier he was playing Frisbee. I fed him and gave him water, and he seemed better, but I was afraid of what may be about to happen. I made a call to our vet and he said to bring him in for a look see. I loaded Cooper up in my truck and took the long way to the vet stopping off at several marshes that were still holding birds; I opened the door for Coop to look out at his world at each stop. When we arrived, Doc assisted in getting Cooper in and after an examination said, “You know what you have to do here”. I had brought some mallard curl feathers, with me and pulled them out of my pocket and placed them under Cooper’s nose. His nostrils came to life with the scent he tracked a thousand times, and with the smell of what he lived for. I stroked his head as he laid there, our vet came in and asked if I was ready and in a few moments the greatest gift ever given to me was gone.
There was a place in his barnyard he loved to lay and I buried him there. I still talk to him every day. It took a while for me to remove his feeding bowl and I hung his collar on the fence by his grave. The 2015-2016 waterfowl season is upon me, however there is emptiness, a void left by the greatest teacher I have ever known. I hope he knows how much he meant to me and how grateful I was for being his friend. You will be missed, until we meet again, Thank you Cooper “The Super Dog”. Jesus, please hunt with him and play with him until I get there, this is what he trained me to do.
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Old 01-07-2016, 06:51 PM
Elbert Chamblee Elbert Chamblee is offline
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Default a tribute to Cooper "the Super Dog"

WOW what a story. God put you together for a special reason. You were blessed to own Cooper.
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Old 01-07-2016, 08:36 PM
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Quackhead62 Quackhead62 is online now
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Wow as a dog owner and a guy that takes his dog everywhere and treats him like one of the family. That story brought me to tears. My wife looked at me like I was crazy sitting on the sofa looking at my phone. Sounds like he was one hell of a dog and you did right by him. Makes me hate to think about that day that all of us dog owners can't stand to think about.


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Old 01-08-2016, 10:36 AM
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cajunforeman cajunforeman is offline
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What a great story. Sometimes it's good to sit back and remember those times. I'm just on my first dog and although we have a our battles I can't imagine being in the blind without him. He's only 6 now but I can already see him slowing down once we get home from the hunt. I dread the day you just described as much as anyone but be thankful for all the memories he gave you.
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Old 01-08-2016, 11:55 AM
B-Stealth B-Stealth is offline
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Great story, sounds like a wonderful dog. I cried like a like a pregnant woman watching a Lifetime Movie.
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Old 01-08-2016, 01:55 PM
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seachaser250 seachaser250 is offline
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Great tribute! Nothing compares to the loyalty of a man's hunting dog.
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Old 01-08-2016, 05:36 PM
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wishin i was fishin wishin i was fishin is offline
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Wow, Great Story I can relate to. Me and my dog Hershey, Australian Sheppard, was alot like you and Cooper.

Hersheys thing was running in the woods. Once i brought him with us to run while we tracked a deer. to my surprise, he tracked and found it. Hershey too was all of a sudden old to me one day and we knew the dreaded day was coming. Well it arrived early December.

Prayers for you and Cooper.
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Old 01-08-2016, 06:41 PM
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Basscat77 Basscat77 is offline
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Great story. I'm about to go through the same thing.
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Old 07-06-2016, 02:56 PM
sportfish sportfish is offline
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What a beautiful, heartfelt story. I have major tears running down my face for sure. One thing I'm really glad you did at the end was to drive by his favorite spots - and also to bring the feathers. Thank you so much for sharing this.
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