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  • Joanne L Barros

The Cooper Chronicles: And Then There Was One

Updated: Oct 2, 2023


It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can turn wrong with my boys.

One minute I am taking cute cuddly pictures of them sleeping, and the next I am sliding through mud and brush tracking Cooper through the canyon.

Our walk started out like any other with Milner in his Thunder Shirt (it doesn’t work but I still put it on him because he gets cold) barking the whole way, and Coop, nose to the ground.

I’ve been taking them across Shake Ridge to the cattle trails because I have found that once Milner is off the street he calms down a dogs, people, or cars he needs to take care of.

These trails run up and down the landscape leading into the canyon.

Everything was going fine. A beautiful crisp morning, the sun peeking through the trees. We had left the house at 7:00 a.m., I estimated about an hour walk, then home for breakfast, and then I would get ready for work.

All of a sudden, the boys caught the scent of something on the trail, both of them zeroing in on the same spot, sniffing and arooing their find. I’m not sure who snapped at who first but the two of them soon became a tangle of leashes and snapping teeth, me trying to pull them apart and finally forcing my body between them.

When they stopped and I reached down to pick up Milner who is much smaller than Coop and was on the ground, I see Coop’s leash and collar laying on the ground, and Coop, well he is just gone. The links in his collar had been jumbled in the fray and somehow come undone. Coop is going after whatever scent he had picked up and within seconds is no longer visible.

Milner and I started after him in full pursuit. Milner was at first frantic because he wanted to be a part of the hunt but as time went by and Coop’s bark became more distant, he was frantic because his brother was nowhere in sight.

Milner pushed and pulled me through the terrain, nose to the ground, while I slid, slipped, and biffed out in the mud behind him.

Finally, after an hour and a half and we could no longer hear Coop’s bark, I made the call to head home. I told Milner that Coop would find his way home, it was okay, let’s go home and regroup as we were both physically spent.

Just as we were reaching the opening that leads to Shake Ridge, Milner started barking frantically and who should appear behind us but Coop. Apparently, he was now tracking us. I was of course elated, calling for him to come get a treat, down on my knees in my already covered with mud jeans with open arms.

Did that boy stop? Well no, no he did not.

That stubborn Coonhound cruised right past us and disappeared right back into the woods. But I knew he was okay, that he knew how to find us, so we continued home to make a plan.

Once we got home I put Milner behind the inner gate but leaving the big gate open, jumped in the truck to see if I could find Coop. My big concern is that someone will either shoot him because he is messing with their animals or that he will be hit by a car on Shake Ridge Road.

I cruised the neighborhood calling his name, hitting all of the streets that we walk on, even going all the way down to Evergreen which is quite a distance but he has gone that far before.


About two hours had passed since Coop first took off and I decided it was time to let John know. I hadn’t cried yet but of course as soon as I heard his voice I turned into a sobbing mess.

John said he would get home as soon as he could, reassured me that Coop knew the way, he was smart, if any dog could find his way home it was Cooper.

Another hour passed before I got the call that our neighbor had Coop. He had been on the property behind us but couldn’t get back through the fenced property.

I bolted out the door and started running down the street and there he was with my neighbor walking towards our house on a leash. As I thanked my neighbor, Cooper whined at his captivity, totally unrepentant.....just wanting to run.

I don’t think that there is a part of my body that doesn’t hurt. My hands ache from holding on to Milner’s leash with all my might. My knees have a purple hue from hitting the ground. Even my shoulders hurt from the physical strain of the hunt.

Oh and my heart hurts too. Cooper took my heart today and squeezed it, twisted it, and hung it out to dry. I am bruised inside and out.

But Cooper and Milner are both home now so all is right in this chaotic world of mine.

Love those Crazy Coonhounds.

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