24 Jul 17 Ground breaking for a new project, in this case our house, is generally an exciting time, but for us it was to hold an additional treat besides the start of a new home. Shortly after we began work this beautiful large golden dog looking more lion like than dog came strolling down the future drive to pay us a visit. We had no idea from where she had come, but she stayed the day with us and left to return elsewhere as we departed. From that day on she was to be a constant fixture on the property anytime there was some human working. She turned out to be our neighbor's dog, a Leonberger by trade, named Mini Cooper. The breeder from whom she was obtained had named all the puppies in her litter after cars, and being the runt of the litter, she was called Mini Cooper. By the time she came to visit us she was 5 years old and a loving playful 135 pounder. As far as I know and from our experience with her, she never met anyone she didn't immediately love. Even Maggie! Maggie's first exposure to her was friends forever, and that never changed. As we progressed in the building of the house Mini made more and more friends and was especially good at sharing lunch with the workers . . . their lunch. None of them could ever look into her big beautiful brown eyes and not give in to that "please, please, I'm starving, just a nibble" look. Midway through the construction I was asked to house sit for her and her two roommates, a couple of cats, for two months while the owners went on a two month cruise. I agreed as it would allow me to have a place to stay and not have to commute for two months while working on the house. During that time Mini and I became fast friends and we spent much time together. When we moved into the house Mini became a constant fixture generally arriving early in the morning in time for our morning walk with Maggie. Mini always accompanied us and soon we became the morning walkers of two dogs. Return from the morning walk was water and treat (single dog-bone) for each dog and a dish of ice water. Then it was nap time for the two dogs for an hour or so before playtime began which was off and on all day long. It was Mini's job we were told by her family to come and protect our house and she was totally reliable in that responsibility. She would often stay on our porch when we went away awaiting our return several hours later. She was a bit unique in other ways especially in that she didn't bark - we heard her do so only once - but was quite a talker and when we would go on vacation for a couple of weeks at a time upon our return we would be given an ear full, sometimes for as long as 20 minutes. And there was no getting away from her until she was through giving us a piece of her mind. In April Mini turned 13, an amazing age for a breed that used to make it to just 8 and more recently reaching 10 - 11. So 13 was a special birthday but it was obvious that she was beginning to show her age. About the time we returned from Yellowstone this May Mini had stopped visiting us on a regular basis and by June she visited no longer. We inquired as to her health and were told she was failing and that she needed to stay at home. That was a sad message but not something we didn't expect. Late Wednesday afternoon I got a call informing me that she was failing fast and that I should come down and say goodby if I wanted. I immediately paid her a visit only to find her stretched out on her lawn struggling to breath. When I arrived she perked up, raised up to a normal resting position and I was able to hold her head and stroke her fur for about an hour as we had our last conversation. It was very hard to leave and she made it clear that she didn't want me to go. The next evening she left us for a better place. If it is true that all dogs go to heaven, or at least the good ones, she surely is there now. This one's for you sweetheart!
Other than cropping, this is straight from the camera. Nikon D300s; 18 - 200; Aperture priority; ISO 400; 1/320 sec @ f /10 .