Friday, January 10, 2020

Love affair with dogs has long, proud history of travel, unabashed love

Nick, left, and Nora, dry off after a swim in their "Auntie Robbie's" pool, in spring of 2006. They were born in fall, 2005.

Nora, left, and Nick, spent their first few years in Arizona.



IT'S TIME TO admit I've led a doggedly delightful life.
I came home as a newborn to a cocker spaniel and a pomeranian.
My late sister Robbie brought the Yorkies to me
so they are a link with a beloved sibling.
I've had bassetts and bouviers, retrievers and labs, airedales, beagles, Saint Bernards, loveable rescue mutts and many kinds of terriers. In all my decades on the planet, I've  never been dogless.
My parents and grandparents were dog lovers and that is a genetic trait. Bo-Peep, a spirited cocker, was abandoned at a Kalispell tavern and rescued by a cousin.  Blondie was a smart, sweet circus dog who jumped through hoops of fire.  When the traveling circus disbanded, we took her in.
Dogs introduce new worlds
Dad's favorite was a golden lab, named, not very creatively, Goldie, the pick of a litter from a rancher friend.  My grandmother's chubby rescue mutt, Tiny, was anything but.  He was a black lab mix with a heart-melting countenance and prodigious appetite. He was never Tiny in my memory....
BRUCE THE FIRST aka, Bruce Kemp Meyers, and I acquired our first joint custody dog in 1968.  Bruce and our dear friend Paul, both college professors at then Eastern Montana College, went fishing one day and came home with two Saint Bernards. I'm foggy about how Henry and Fred replaced rainbow trout but they were immediately adopted and loved. We  took them on camping jaunts and road trips for several summers.
Nick and Nora as puppies in Davis,
California, where they were born.
On a trip to Missoula in 1970 for the wedding of two friends, we took Henry and another friend, Roger, along in Bruce's new 8-cylinder Road Runner.
Dog's life, a good gig
My mother, Ellen Cosgriffe, with young Nora.
The fellas sat in front in the bucket seats.  Henry and I took the back seat.  In Missoula, an adorable airedale met our car in the drive.  No one knew where he belonged. He'd been hanging around for a week, our friends feeding him. But they planned to leave that Monday on honeymoon. "We'll drop him off at the shelter," said Lynn, delivering the sucker punch.  We introduced him to Henry, named him Gandalf, tucked him in with Henry and me in the back seat and had him until 1986.  He died peacefully while we were in Paris for a Jessye Norman concert on Bastille Day. Our neighbors, the Larsen family, conspired happily with my mother NOT to call us (we'd been gone only 2 days and he'd run two miles with me the morning we flew out of Billings. I got the news in New York the night before we flew to Billings in August of 1986.)
Tips for dog traveling
Nick and Nora in Los Angeles at the Omni.

Montana meander: Max, Smedley,
Ruth and Eddie at High Chaparral.
Cookie with Nick and Nora in San Francisco's
Union Square. The pups have visited most
major U.S. cities with their owners.
Nora, left, and Nick, travel with Cookie all over the U.S.,
here on a driving trip near Idyllwild, California.
ON THE WAY home from the Billings airport, Bruce and I detoured to the animal shelter on Moore Lane. We couldn't be dogless, not even for a day.  He chose Smedley, an endearing bouvier-sheepdog mix.  I fell for Maxwell (who knows what mix he was).  He was my friend for nearly two decades.  Both these sweet dogs outlived Bruce, who passed in 1992.  They became part of a four-dog "yours/mine/now ours" menagerie when William Jones and I began courting in 1994. His dogs, Ruth and Eddie, joined Max and Smedley and we six spent 10 happy summers in Montana, wintering in Bill's native Arizona. We bought twin Ford Explorers and Billy fashioned ramps for the old-timers' access.
I HAVE LOVED each of my dogs, but none more than Nick and Nora. Why?
Because they saved my life, gave me purpose, direction, affection.
Cookie and Keller, Nick and Nora in their beloved Montana.
After Billy died in November of 2005, my sister Robbie flew in to Phoenix and spirited me away to Davis, Calif., where she was head of childcare services for Yolo County. While we were waiting for Billy's ashes, she received an in-house email.  Two Yorkies were available. Ironic, because Bill's last living act during our Arizona hospice time was to wheel his IV into the office and print out the profile for Yorkshire terrier.  We had lost all four of our dogs in the last four months.  Smedley the bouvier-sheepdog, lived to be 16. Eddie, the basset hound, made 17. Ruthie, the retriever, made 18 and that was after surviving a rattlesnake bite which blinded her in one eye. Maxwell, a rescue mutt, lived to be 19.

Karen Jackson's roles were always memorable.
She spent more than 40 years in show business, making
us laugh and delivering ballads that touched the soul.
UP NEXT:  We celebrate the life of a fabulous singer, actor, comic and dear friend, Karen Jackson, of Billings, Montana. In a nostalgic tribute, whereiscookie looks at her 40 years in show business and considers the gifts she shared with legions of fans and fellow actors and singers.  We pay homage to her gifts and honor the Jan. 18 celebration of her life, while previewing the new theater season in San Diego. It's one which Karen would have enjoyed and applauded -- and likely scored a few leading roles. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh take on travel, family, nature, the arts and more:


  1. This story made me cry. I, too, have loved and lost many pets. The bonds we forge with animals are like no others. Good story, wonderful commentary and touching photos.

  2. Magnificent tale of love. Tou captured the delightful bonding of man and dog in an eloquent way. Bravo to you two and long live Nick and Nora.

  3. Syracuse Spaniel DevoteesJanuary 11, 2020 at 2:11 PM

    So much love for such charming doggies. Never trust a person who dislikes pets.

  4. Animals teach us so much about being genuine, and what really matters.

  5. Could we use this story as part of our fund-raising effort for our regional ASPCA? Also think Humane Societies could make good use of your loving testimonial.

  6. Gainesville Animal LoversJanuary 17, 2020 at 1:53 PM

    Doggone good story with delightful commentary and photos.

  7. I feel for you. I have pets my whole life. But Neeko and Junior are my life. I love them more than I love a lot of people that I know