A football life: Luna the Cockapoo

FALL IS HERE!! When the leaves start to turn color around our house, we begin to speak another language:

12th Dog

Touchdown, Superbowl, Russell, Nick, field goal, Chip, f#%$&@g dumb refs, Tom Brady, Andy, Marcus…Aaron (especially Aaron

Yes, folks, It’s football season.

Luna the Cockapoo has a long, complicated (as much as it can be given she’s only six months old) history with football.

Having been born in Iola, Wisconsin, Luna continually insists she is a “life long” (remember that six month window…) Green Bay Packers fan (#packers). To the contrary, we remind her on a daily basis that she was born after the end of football season last year and had no concept of football until we brought her home to Portland. LUNA, YOU ARE IN SEAHAWKS COUNTRY NOW. (#seahawks)

George and the Helmet Head

Despite our admonishments, Luna waxes philosophical about her buddy Aaron Rodgers regularly. Making fried chicken?? Aaron would NEVER eat that! Complaining about the rain?? Well, Aaron has thrown footballs in sub-zero weather!! Own a Bichon?? Well…you get the picture.

And what football season is complete without (NFL-licensed) gear?

With all due respect to her Wisconsin heritage, we did make for Luna a ceremonial Cheese Head hat (which, rightfully, she couldn’t wait to take off!) Being Seattle natives in part, we think she makes an excellent 12th dog. Thanks to a quick trip to the pet store, Luna now has an officially licensed Seahawks jersey, which she styled on Game Day against the

Luna the Cheese Head

Cowboys, causing our/her team to win, 24-13.

What, no football? Well, there’s always George the Old Man Bichon. Official NFL footballs are 11 inches tip to tip and the circumference at the widest point is about 22 inches (plus or minus Inflategate, or in George’s circumstances before or after dinner.) He’s pretty close to official size!

November 15 will be a house divided when the Seahawks welcome those Packers in Seattle. Maybe George will have some fan gear of his own by then celebrating Nick Fowles and the Philadelphia Eagles

Educating Luna (not Rita)

The leaves turn, the air cools, children wait at corners holding backpacks heavy with unread textbooks and one dog goes to school.

Luna the Cockapoo has begun to learn.

Her people (our family) readied for her homecoming by watching Zak George videos and reading his book. He makes dog training look easy! It’s really an exercise in patience.

Lily the Bichon took a course at a nearby pet store. She heeled when we walked, played fetch, and could sit, lay down and shake paws on command (for treats – when she wanted to).

Hiring a private, in-home trainer is such a yuppy solution. But, sadly, that’s who we are and who we’ve hired. Chris the trainer makes his way to our house every Saturday to watch us stand like storks, make very serious arm movements followed by cheese treats and rounds of “YES!” to mark the moments. These are really meant to train the people; Luna is just the confirmation of our success.

Luna at the Shack

In addition to training, Luna gets much needed social and gossip time with other large dogs and small dogs (“blue dogs and red dogs”), where she can endlessly ask, “Do you like my hat? Does it make my butt look big?” We investigated several “doggie daycares” nearby, and ultimately chose The Scooby Shack.

No….the truth in 2018 is The Scooby Shack “approved” Luna. Doggy daycares in this age resemble human daycares where toddlers get a test visit to see if he or she is a biting risk, adequately potty trained or knows Pi to 100 decimal places. We were warned by Chris the Trainer that The Shack is the best daycare suburban money can buy. The Shack doesn’t accept just ANY well healed pooch. No….you must be…ACCEPTED – Just like Harvard. Not sure how Luna was tested, but she (and our $30/day) were welcomed anytime (guess she passed that math test!)

We always joke about the Scooby Shack humans who we have labeled after Scooby Do characters. The unlucky fellow we first met is “Shaggy,” his co-workers are “Fred” and “Velma.” We’ve not met a “Daphne” yet, but that could be a future mystery to solve.

Saying goodbye to Chris the Trainer

We have recently discovered Luna has some bad habits spilling her water, which has clearly upset Shaggy. We hope she won’t be expelled, as Club Canine simply isn’t as good a school (wrong side of the tracks and all.)

We’ll throw a big party (and cry) when Luna graduates; not sure if dog-sized motar boards exist (THEY DO!), but she would surely wear one.

What is the coolest trick you have taught your dog? Send me an email and I will add everyone’s story as an add-on to this blog.

The name game

What’s in a name? Well, an identity for all of your life and then some.

Who is this Cockapoo?

(My parents told me it took them several days AFTER I was born to come up with the right sounding name combination. What they were thinking the previous six-plus months I will never know.) You can call me Johnson.

A naming convention is a scheme for naming things. Conventions differ in their intents, for instance, streets that are consecutively numbered.

I am not aware of a scheme for naming pets, although I have heard that using human names can be problematic: for instance, if you’re on the street and call out “Jack” and have a handful of people yell “here!”

What does Luna mean? Was she born during a full moon? Is there a moon-shaped spot on her tummy? Nah, Mom wanted to name her Lula, but the family said nope. Then our daughter got creative and suggested Luna instead.

But that’s not always what we call her. Between the three of us at home, we have a varied list for this Cockapoo:



Luna Balloona






The Dog


Little Girl

Girl with the Curl

Lunesta (like the drug)





Of course there are websites for naming. One site advertises 400,000 baby (human) names. Probably as many pet names too. Looks like we’re on our way with nearly 20.

The Girl with the Curl

“Sometimes you need a little finesse, sometimes you need a lot.”

It’s great to have fun with Luna, but sometimes all that bad ass dog play time ends up with her having “that not so fresh feeling” or just the bad (smelling) ass. (Let’s not discuss adventures with CoCo the cat, who left a racing stripe on our bed the other day.)

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Enter Salon de la Poo Key Steps to Grooming:

Gather your tools

Tool box.

At our house, we are so-o-o versed in grooming terms of art:

  • 4 blade
  • 5 blade
  • 10 blade (for those wanting a Brazilian)
  • Oatmeal avocado shampoo and conditioner (why stick with plain old oatmeal?!)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Ellen Degeneres detangler
  • Toe clippers
  • Lots of towels
  • The “hold-all” plastic box with caddy shelf
  • Mom’s old hair dryer

Pre-bath brushing

No point bathing leaves, bark chips, dirt, small rodents/dead cats imbedded in the fur; gotta brush all that out. Get real! Who knew there was a retractable(!) slicker brush? And what IS a slicker brush? Well, we have one (or two) of those too. “One of the best tools for undercoats,” says an Amazon description (must be true if it’s on the internet.)


Tubby time.

At almost nineteen pounds, the laundry sink that was quite deep for the Old Man Bichon isn’t the same for Luna. Still big enough to hold her to spray down, she can more easily get out if it’s a solo washer. Fortunately, we started the bath routine early and because she is a “waterpoo,” she’s patient throughout the rinsing, the shampooing all over and on the head, more rinsing, the conditioning and still more rinsing.

We have talked about purchasing her own set of apricot towels (to match her coat of course) not only for bath time, but also for a dry-off after fall and winter weather romps; an embroidered name on the towels is probably too much for her gentle ego.

Blow drying

How embarrassing! Mom’s blow dryer?? Really? Guess we know what Luna is getting for Christmas! (Do they come in an apricot color?)


On the grooming table.

Grooming table? Why not? Got one!

Dog teeth brushing? Seriously? Have you tried the new charcoal toothpaste? Luna hasn’t (yet), either.

Then, after an hour of work and a final squirt of (apple scented) finishing spray, it immediately goes to hell when Luna runs outside to dig in the flower beds.


Luna is my co-pilot

I must confess I’ve always been envious of people whose big dog is hanging its head out a car window with the happy face on and ears blowing in the wind.

Luna rocks her purple harness.

And, equally truthful, I really have no idea how to train a dog to be THAT dog riding in a car, going to Home Depot, doggy daycare or who-knows-where.

There are You Tube videos that offer pointers, but I haven’t watched them.

We didn’t try very hard with the Bichons. They were anxious about so many things. And, what did we know? They rode in crates, they rode on laps. They whined (but didn’t dine) and shook on many drives to the beach. The lap dogs were never going to be the happy face in the breeze.
But what we are learning from Luna is that sometimes you just have to jump into things, like a swimming pool for the first time.

I have learned to utilize her purple harness so that her leash wraps around the headrest and reattaches to the harness with a carabineer. Luna has enough room to put paws on the window, paws on the middle console/my arm or lie down, but in a sudden stop she would never leave the seat to hit the dashboard.

So we took the plunge and drove together. First it was to McDonalds from where our daughter faithfully gets lunch every Saturday and Sunday. A bit nervous at first, Luna was easily distracted by string cheese, a trick we learned from Chris the Trainer from Lucid.

Luna, I guess this is training.

Luna gets her first open window rush.

Then I drove her to Home Depot where we wandered around looking for a spray cleaner. And she was so VERY good on leash, rocking the purple harness.
We have taken a half dozen drives together so far. She’s gone with me to the pet store where we have wandered the aisles smelling bags of food, peoples shoes and (hoping to eat, I mean greet) kittens up for adoption.

Now I’m looking for any excuse to drive somewhere with her. Ultimately, we want to take her to the beach, but that’s a two-hour drive she may not ready to take just yet.

The co-pilot to become a Sea Dog?

How did you train your dog to ride in the car? Click here to write to Scott Wolff. I will update this blog as I receive your comments.

Luna the Waterpoo

Who knew we would have a water dog!

Clearly, Luna the Cockapoo is not Portuguese (Head of Cheese, maybe, given her Wisconsin heritage); however, on a Wikipedia list of so called water dogs (“a type of gundog bred to flush and retrieve game from water”), the Poodle, or Pudelhund as they are called (and used) in Germany, is on the list!

George the Old Man Bichon (who just turned 14) can’t stand to get his paddy paws wet if the backyard grass is damp from rain or a sprinkler. This has been a serious issue with our relationship: sending George outside, only to return and squat on the hardwood floor does nothing to endear (endure?) him to me.

We discovered Luna’s addiction to water first with the water bowl. I have never seen a dog put its paws into the water dish (I’m sure it happens!) I have never seen a dog bob in the water for specs of dirt that came off the aforementioned paws. I have never seen a dog grab a water dish in its mouth and carry it around the room, water flying over our once-nice wooden floors. Very strange!

Later, after turning on the sprinkler, we discovered La Luna lying on a very wet rock, very drenched and happily warmed by the hot day. And now when the sprinkler first comes on, she runs to it to lick at the streams and run beneath. And how she enjoys slurping out of the nightly watering can, (trying) to drench our parched herb garden!

Now there’s pool-a-poo. It’s July in the Pacific Northwest, when temperatures run in the 80s and 90s with very little rain. During a recent string of hot days, we concluded a wading pool would be ideal, but all were long gone from the local big box stores. POOR LUNA! Thank goodness for Amazon Prime. With just a day’s notice and a few inches of water, it was love at first sight: absolutely no hesitation to get in, splash around and even lay down in the pool. Now muddy paws are the order of any given evening, as a lovely mud-roll rounds out the spa treatment.

We can’t wait until the Pacific Northwest rainy season sets in right before Halloween. We’ll have a new problem: muddy paw prints.


The Old Man Bichon and the Pupka

There’s a whole lotta barkin’ goin’ on!

George the Old Man Bichon has had enough. Once king of the (dog) house, he’s now a live squeaky toy for Luna the Cockapoo.

He’s not happy; his anguished looks and frequent yipping when the Lunapoo wants to play (and show domination) make this crystal clear.

He’s probably also not happy about the disparity between dogs right now:

  • Luna toys: 27, George: 3 (that Luna likes to steal).
  • Luna chews: 10, George: 0.
  • Luna treats: “humainly harvested” wild boar, Gearge: “recycled” wild boar (aka backyard poopa-loopas).
  • Luna’s worries: non-existent, George’s anxieties: 100,000.

Any May-to-September romance idea between George and Luna was doomed before arrival; George is no Hugh Hefner. When George was a young squire, he couldn’t wait until spring when he would try to dominate and inseminate Lily, our First Bichon. Now, In the immortal words of Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” The mounter has become the mountee, and we’re not talking Canadians.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we have come to realize, 14 years too late, that George was probably bred for shows and is most happy being on a lap. Luna is anything but a lap dog. Sure, she sits with us on the sofa in the evenings after she has run her brains out. Sure, she’s under someone’s chair at dinner. But velcro she is not.

And now…she is the Alpha. Good luck, George! Karma is a female dog named Luna!

CoCo and the Pupka

There’s a whole lotta hissin’ goin’ on round here!

CoCo at the baby gate.

CoCo, our bombastic Bombay cat, who we sometimes call Co2, has been sounding as if she has a gas leak whenever Luna the Cockapoo gets too close or escapes the kitchen baby gate we forgot to close. Hissssssssssss.

George, the Old Man Bichon, couldn’t be happier: either he’s smiling, thinking the cat is getting her just desserts after all the years of “Whackapoodle” or just thinking, ‘glad it’s not me.’ Luna has been harassing George a bit lately.

Surprisingly, despite a size advantage (CoCo’s 17 lbs to Luna’s 11 lbs.), the dog frightens CoCo. When a passage is available, you can be sure Luna will run to the living room. If CoCo is hanging out, much kitty kursing will go on before the cat runs off and the game is on.

CoCo now hangs out upstairs and Luna runs around unawares.

CoCo – Luna détente.

Funny thing, CoCo was a rescue cat seven years ago and initially lived with big dogs. We have always thought she thinks herself a dog, stomping around the house in the most un-kitty-like fashion. Much like “Skippy Jon Jones,” a fictional Siamese who imagines himself a Chihuahua, CoCo’s imagination doesn’t match her reality— or frailty.

Some day they may be best buds, but right now they are best enemies in the truest “Tom-and-Jerry” sense.

One of our puppy books suggests “the key (to pet family introductions) is to slowly allow the two animals to be comfortable with each other.” Truth be told, CoCo will come up to the gate to sniff Luna. CoCo will also patrol around puppy territory when Luna is temporarily in her pen and/or asleep there.

Coco and Luna: not yet best buds.

We are getting to know Luna’s rhythms: happy-go-lucky in the morning, siesta in the afternoon, extended greetings and a full dinner, then ZOOM! the energy burst kicks in. Cat and dog introductions would make better sense during the down times, but right now CoCo is just too exciting and new to Luna.

We could still consider a Swiss boarding school for learning proper introductions, but Luna doesn’t have all her shots yet and Coco flunked crate class.

Calla lilies are a no-no

Uh-oh, what’s this?? Which dog threw up the Milk Bone treat?

And so began a frantic, all-hands effort to keep Luna the Cockapoo safe in the backyard.

George, the Old Man Bichon, was never one to take any interest in the shrubs. He was less interested in the grass after a rain, preferring to relieve himself indoors, which is very problematic here in Oregon to say the least.

Luna destroys another day lily.

Luna has taken a great liking to lying on several day lilies; at last count there are (were) nearly a dozen day lilies that have thrived for five or more years in our backyard. She thinks chewing the stalks of bear’s breeches is great fun as well. But when she started taking notice of the calla lilies we had planted earlier this spring, we started to distract her.

When she first came home, our daughter who has a personal fear that foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) near the garden are poisonous to her, pointed out a Google search that indicated foxgloves are a toxic plant to dogs. Luna’s care became a tool to dispense with the foxgloves, also planted last year and which were thriving. I moved them.

But we’re also wanting Luna (and our daughter!) to be on her own; independence was a trait we thought we observed in Luna when we were researching Cockapoos (see my earlier blog, “Breeding the right ingredients.”)

Despite our best intentions and during a brief period unsupervised, we found calla lily blooms on the patio that had been Luna-tized. And then there was the half digested Milk Bone next to the calla lily. That and a slightly lethargic dog made us take notice. The vet, with whom we are now on a first name basis, was duly alerted. Many frantic hourly texts and calls later, Luna was very much alive and wanting to play ball.

Luna’s favorite dead lily bed.

Once again, out came the Google searches. Yes, calla lilies are harmful. A brief memorial was held for dead flowers; Luna the most beloved lingered nearby. The surviving calla lilies took new residence in the front yard. So did the azaleas. Now there are moon-sized craters where landscaping once thrived.

Further searches uncovered a longer list of toxic landscaping, care of the ASPCA (click here to read the list). Our daughter is on red alert.

Our backyard may never be the same…

Let’s sit

I will sit for bacon!

We wanted a Cockapoo in part because our research indicated they are pretty smart dogs. Luna has already proven she’s got the potential to be on puppy honor roll.

Steering out-of-control puppy behavior has been a priority from day one, based on life with Bichons. Knowing one’s name, potty training, nipping at George the-Old-Man-Bichon or now chewing on shoes have been our initial training efforts.

Pre-puppy, we pre-ordered treats and bought a cool teat bag on a belt so we’d be ready when she arrived. The treats were a bust — except for Amazon (these treats went home with friends for their pit bull.)

Leftover crumbled bacon was a hit. Within 24 hours of homecoming, she started turning her head when we called “Luna.” We worked on both name recognition and “sit” at the same time. Half the time we call her she automatically sits.

Smarty pants now knows there are treats in the bag; she also almost immediately sits when the bag goes on my waist, hoping it’s training time.

Training goes something like this:

(High-pitched baby voice) “Luna? Luna? LUNA!”

She investigates; George wanders over, stands right next to us.

“Sit Luna. Sit Luna. GOOD GIRL”

(Regular voice) George: “Breathe. GOOD BOY.”

I think we have conquered a few easy tricks. We’re trying to get her to sit and hand out her paw to shake. Our daughter is trying to get her to stand and to spin.

We thought we had potty training nailed, but she’s nailed a particular rug a few times when we weren’t supervising closely; we will have to go back to treats plus praise when she makes the big deposit at the Bank of Grass where she has an account.

Sometimes, sending her to a finishing school isn’t such a bad idea.