≡ Menu

The 25,000 Cookies of Shannon Sniper by ghostsniper

Just this morning I was doing some rudimentary figuring and found out over the past 7 years and 2 months I have given my mutt Shannon over 25,000 cookies. That’s a lot. I had no idea. Funny how habits work, start off slow and the next thing you know it’s over the top.

The cookies are really large breed Iam’s dog food. Brown, about 5/8″ in diameter, and my left britches pocket always has a bunch of them in there. In the winter they are in my left downvest pocket that I wear constantly.

From the very first day we got Shannon when she was but a pup a few months old she has learned that I always have a cookie for her and sometimes she must earn them. This is how she has learned to take care of “business” like a machine. A friend came by one time when she was in the process of doing business and said it was the damnedest thing he had ever seen. Shannon has her own private yard that is fenced in and it is only for doing business and is cleaned daily. After breakfast each day she launches to her yard and does business one and immediately races to me for her reward, for which she jumps real high at full speed and she gets her cookie. She gobbles it down then relaunches back to the yard for business two, then back to me for cookie two. Like clockwork. Only once, since we’ve had her, did the “timing” get off and I believe it was because I think she may have eaten bunny poop. After a few days, she was back on track.

So Shannon gets 2 cookies at breakfast and 2 at supper, and 1 at bedtime, and about 5 more throughout the day. An average day means she enjoys 10 or more cookies. That’s 3,650 cookies a year. Over 7 years it adds up.

It’s not about the cookies, with Shannon. After all, her breakfast and supper are the same Iams large breed dog food. It’s the routine, and that I praise her heavily every.single.time. I give her a cookie. It’s a bond reinforcement. She and I are together almost every waking moment and usually she must be within inches of me. Her favorite place to be is wrapped up in the spokes/legs of my desk chair. Yes, that is dangerous, and she’s been rolled over a few times, and I’ve even scolded her about it. But she won’t be deterred. She must be as close to me as possible at all times.

If I get up from my chair Shannon gets up from the spokes and she’ll look at me with her ears up wondering what we’re gonna do next. Usually it is something mundane like going to the house and fixing a cup O’mud. Walking beside me across the bridge she is bubbling over in the joy of just living. Dancing, even in circles, prancing, and jumping, and nipping at my fingers. It is a big thing for her to just walk to the house. She’s easily amused and entertained.

In a way, Shannon is my best friend, even better than my wife of 37 years, because we spend so much time together. Even though my wife runs her business out of the house and I run mine out of my detached office/workshop we only see each other occasionally during the day, like when I got in the house to make my cup O’mud. Even though she and I are usually less than 100′ apart during the day it’s not unusual to not see each other until supper time when we sit down together, along with Shannon to break bread. The rest of the time it’s just Shannon and me.

After my last mutt died, in 2014, I didn’t really want to get another one. My previous mutt’s lifestyle and mine were pretty much like mine is with Shannon. We were heavily invested in each other and when she was gone an enormous vacuum existed and I floundered on how to fill that void. I just couldn’t get the thought of her out of my head. Almost every second of every day was filled with misery and there was nothing I could do about it. The thought of getting another mutt was almost repulsive to me. Like I was desecrating the memory of my deceased mutt. My wife would bring it up and I’d quickly dismiss it, even getting angry about it at times. It got so bad that I told her to not bring it up again. “If I want to get another mutt at some time in the future I’ll decide.” She told me she hates to see me down in the dumps about the loss. I told her there is nothing to be done and to stop trying to fix something she has no control over.

In mid-Sept of 2014, my wife sent me an email. “At the risk of making you angry, I just had to take a chance and send this to you. Take a look and see what you think.” The email had a link to a website for a dog kennel about 40 miles from here. The link had a mutt that they recently received and she was ready to be adopted after she had met their requirements. I looked, then I closed the site and forgot about it. Two days later, on a Friday, I looked at the website again. I went in the house and told my wife that we are going to Bargersville to look at “Spirit” the 4 month old female hybrid Australian Shepard – Brittany Spaniel at the website.

When we got to the Golden Post Kennel to see Shannon (her name was Spirit at the time), they brought her out to my wife and me in the front room and we were all glad to see each other for our very own and particular reasons. Spirit was overly bubbly and was jumping up at us uncontrollably and I knelt on the ground at her level. The leash and collar arrangement they had on her was difficult to work with as it was all one piece. The leash was basically wrapped around her neck and acted as a collar, and it’s impossible to control an animal in that manner.

After a few minutes, we went to an outside area in the rear that was enclosed on all 4 sides. This area was about 100′ wide by about 50′ deep and had a 10′ chainlink fence on the 2 ends. The front of this area was enclosed by the office building itself. The rear of this area was contained by a row of kennels with a chainlink fence separating them from this large open area. Each of the kennels had dogs in them, some 30 kennels in a row, and each kennel had a barking and curious dog in it. Various people were coming and going in this “meet and greet” area so the distractions were immense and a quality interview with Spirit was almost impossible. We were in this area for about 20 minutes and weren’t making much headway. My wife and I frequently looked at each other in frustration and wondered aloud if we were doing the right thing. The situation was so difficult I had my doubts as to whether this whole thing was right. I needed to find a way to break through the chaos and discover what I needed to know. I needed to know if Spirit was the dog I was going to invest a big part of my life in and with.

At one point I decided to try something to see how Spirit would act toward me. I told my wife to stay here and without saying another word to anyone I walked to one corner of the 50’x100′ space and just stood there for a moment. In short order, Spirit came over by me and just stood there. Without looking at, or acknowledging her, I started slowly walking to the opposite end some 100′ away. Spirit followed, and my wife stood in the middle observing, not saying a word. The mayhem meanwhile continued all around us. When I got to the corner I stopped and just stood there, again not saying anything to anyone and just observing out of the corner of my eye. Spirit stopped at that corner too and acted like she was waiting for direction on what to do. After a moment I started slowly walking toward the next corner, Spirit again followed.

Keep in mind there were numerous distractions all along, dogs barking uncontrollably, kids and adults running about, cars coming and going, etc. I repeated my previous behavior at this corner and then started walking to corner 4, again Spirit followed me. Spirit had been off the leash the whole time we were in this enclosed area and could have run off, so she was following me of her own volition. I stopped at corner 4 and stood there, by now Spirit was in tune with what I was doing.

I started walking to corner 1, where we had started, and Spirit followed me again. When we got to that corner I stopped and just stood there, and so did Spirit. I looked down at her and she was looking around, but she already knew where she was supposed to be – by me. I knelt down and wrapped my arms around her and told her she was a good gurl and she turned into a fountain bubbling all over the place.

Her natural charms had worked their spell and cut through the fog of distraction and confusion and overwhelmed my emotions. She won me and I stole her.

That clinched the deal for me, she was now my gurl and we just had to go through the formalities to make it so. My wife went inside and handled all the administrative tasks and I releashed Spirit with my own hardware I had brought along and she and I went out front to the huge grassed yard with large shade trees and boulders. We walked about and Spirit grew more comfortable with me, and I was learning her. I had not spent more than a few minutes with any dogs in more than 6 months and they of course were other people’s dogs, so not only was I finding Spirit I was finding me.

I sat down on a large boulder and Spirit climbed up on top to be near me. I spoke to her and she listened to me. I could see it in her eyes. Finally, she had found someone that wanted to spend time with her, just her, for the first time in her life. And I found someone to help me heal, to become whole again, to fill a void that had only seen despair for so long. She seemed appreciative if that is possible. She was very excitable but I attributed that to her very young age of 4 months. Everything around her was new all the time and warranted investigation. I understood this and allowed her to find her way. In a moment I was back in her main view and she was glad of it.

The printer was causing problems inside so it took my wife an unusually long time to join Spirit and me, maybe 20-30 minutes. The yard we were in was vast and was surrounded on 3 sides by an immense cornfield with stalks 10′ high, it was like we were in an enclosed castle yard. Cars came and went from the parking lot next to the yard and people would walk past us to their cars. On 2 occasions people stopped and told us how good we looked together and wished us luck and I thanked them. Finally, my wife emerged with the paperwork in hand that legally made Spirit ours, and us, hers. The two women that owned the place came out and wanted to take a picture of us for their Facebook page. Everybody thanked everybody and wished each other luck and we, my wife, Spirit, and I, jumped in the car and headed for home, Spirit’s new home.

Spirit, now “Shannon”, is laying on her blanky here next to my chair in front of my desk in my office.
Shannon is sleeping, and just now she let out with a low woo-woo-woo, from something she is dreaming about. I hope she is not having a bad dream of the days when no one wanted her. I hope she is dreaming about the good times she and we have had since she’s been here and the many more good times we will have in the future.

“” I name my mutts after 10970’s songs.
The first one was named Dusty, for “Dust in the Wind” (Kansas).
The next one was named “Lady” (Styx).
The next one was “Brandy” (Looking Glass)
And now “Shannon” (Henry Gross)

— ghostsniper November 30, 2021, 1:36 PM


Another day is at end
Mama says she’s tired again
No one can even begin to tell her

I hardly know what to say
But maybe it’s better that way
If papa were here I’m sure he’d tell her

Shannon is gone I heard she’s drifting out to sea
She always loved to swim away
Maybe she’ll find an island with a shady tree
Just like the one in our backyard

Mama tries hard to pretend
Things will get better again
Somehow she’s keeping it all inside her

But finally the tears fill our eyes
And I know that somewhere tonight
She knows how much we really miss her

Shannon is gone I hope she’s drifting out to sea
She always loved to swim away
Maybe she’ll find an island with a shady tree
Just like the one in our backyard

Just like the one in our backyard

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ed in Upstate NY December 1, 2021, 9:53 AM

    Shannon is beautiful in body and ‘Spirit.”

  • Dirk December 1, 2021, 10:33 AM

    Ghost, Awesome. There’s a reason Dogs are man’s best friends. Like you I prefer the company of my pets, animals in general, over humans.

    You made my day


  • LadyBikki December 1, 2021, 10:46 AM

    Oh, my heart.
    So glad you found each other.

  • John Venlet December 1, 2021, 10:55 AM

    Ghostsniper, I feel the same way about my ol’ dog, Elsa, who is 16. I’ve never totaled up the biscuits she’s downed over the 14 1/2 years we’ve had her, but like your Shannon, she’s my constant companion. What you relate about the loss of your other “mutt,” back in 2014, strikes me hard because my ol’ girl, though still keen on being with me at all times, is failing, and I know that loss is going to hit me hard. Thanks for the great tribute to Shannon.

  • jwm December 1, 2021, 11:21 AM

    Nobody said it better than Rudyard Kipling

    “The Power of the Dog”

    There is sorrow enough in the natural way
    From men and women to fill our day;
    And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
    Why do we always arrange for more?
    Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

    Buy a pup and your money will buy
    Love unflinching that cannot lie —
    Perfect passion and worship fed
    By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
    Nevertheless it is hardly fair
    To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

    When the fourteen years which Nature permits
    Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
    And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
    To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
    Then you will find — it’s your own affair —
    But . . . you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the body that lived at your single will,
    With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
    When the spirit hat answered your every mood
    Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,
    You will discover how much you care,
    And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

    We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
    When it comes to burying Christian clay.
    Our loves are not given, but only lent,
    At compound interest of cent per cent.
    Though it is not always the case, I believe,
    That the longer we’ve kept’em, the more do we grieve;

    For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
    A short-time loan is as bad as a long —
    So why in — Heaven (before we are there)
    Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

  • ghostsniper December 1, 2021, 11:34 AM

    Well looky what our host went and did, spotlighted some of my scribblin’s! Then he went and chased down some pix, and a music vid and even the lyrics. Holy Kow! Is this a quality enterprise or what?

    Of all the pix posted the one that comes closest to my Shannon is the water view in the vid starting at 2:26. Mostly white with tan splotches here and there. She’s gorgeous and seemingly oblivious to the idea in spite of me telling her all the time.

    Mutt’s don’t know what words mean. However, they can be taught to understand the meaning of certain “sounds” which, to us, sounds like words, and the “tone” of those words or sounds. When I praise Shannon I raise the pitch of my voice as she understands this tone as good. If there is a need to scold Shannon I lower the pitch of my voice and she understands this as disappointment for me. I have tested Shannon with this idea by saying a made-up word to her in a high pitched voice and she got excited. Then I said another made-up word to her in a lower voice and her ears dropped like she did something bad. She didn’t understand the words, because they weren’t words at all – just sounds, but she did understand the tone. Dogs are hard wired to do good and if they do bad it is because they are ignorant to the fact or haven’t been taught properly, or have been mistreated or neglected.

    FWIW, I wrote this thing back in 2014 a few days after we got Shannon. I wrote it in an email to my 2 sisters, one, a manager of 2 animal shelters in North Carolina and the other is a veterinarian technician in San Diego. It’s 2:30pm, stopped raining a little while ago, now I’m gonna drag Shannon down the road to see what we shall see. And she’ll get a cookie when we get back…

  • Teresa Pittman December 1, 2021, 12:32 PM

    I had a different issue with Jake. He’d never really been socialized with people. He was the husband’s dog. Husband was in a bad accident and the wife immediately put up an ad to give the dog away. All Jake knows how to do is bark. He didn’t know what we were saying and we had no idea what he wanted. I let him be my husband’s dog and Jake started to learn about people. Then, one day, he had a Helen Keller moment. He realized that what people were saying was important stuff for him! He would try so hard to figure out what you were saying to him. It helped a lot when we got another rescue that was a bit oversocialized with people. And so it went, on through 2020, when I lost my husband, two cats and that oversocialized rescue. I tried to figure out a new routine for us all.

    I wonder what Jake would be like if someone had put just a little time into socializing him. I wish I’d had him as a puppy. All my springers have been rescues and it’s unlikely I will ever get to have one as a puppy. Jake has learned how to communicate with me, without barking, and it’s been amazing to watch his progress. He does get treats of course. I am hoping for many more years with him.

  • Mike Austin December 1, 2021, 1:43 PM

    Your Shannon was my Joysie, a ridiculous looking Chiweenie. Wherever I was, there she was. I miss her more than I could possibly write.

  • Terry December 1, 2021, 5:44 PM

    Her name is Liberty. We have had seven Doberman’s over the last 46 years. Sometimes two at a time.

    I cannot over state how wonderful this breed is. The breed has one trait that is something to keep in mind before bringing one home. That is, they will take control of a home if allowed to. Put another way, the Dobbie will assume ownership and the family will become servants and playmates only.

    Doberman’s are smarter than any government “schooled” child. And they know it.

  • PA Cat December 1, 2021, 6:01 PM

    I hope ghost will follow up with an equally full account of Caramel and the other Sniper Cats– he’s obviously an expert on a cat’s ability to take over a keyboard and the human attached to it.

  • Anne December 1, 2021, 8:00 PM

    Very nice story and good picture of Shannon!

  • RL Homer December 2, 2021, 1:10 AM


    A beautifully written scribble and tribute to Shannon. My AJ, Rottie/Shepherd mix will be 18 on the 14th and he is the same way. Never once has he been grumpy or just not happy to be alive and always near me unless he crashes in the living room. His hips are pretty shot but he is always just so dang happy and so damn intelligent. He has not lost anything mentally, can still hear a chip bag being opened from the deepest of dog sleep from the front of the house and I am all the back in my office, can still catch any cookie, veggie, fruit trimmings tossed his way, even with old dog cataracts. He emptied the Vet’s coat pocket of cookies visit before last as one thing I cannot do is trim his nails. Vet never felt anything. His time is coming and it will be the hardest one yet by far. Dogs are so much better company than people. Dogs are true innocence even when they are no no bad dog.

  • MMinWA December 2, 2021, 4:32 AM

    Nice story gs. My love, Anne, a 15 year old GSD is near the end and her passing is gonna leave that very same big hole in my life. My constant companion for the last decade and a half, with me virtually 24/7.

    I’d love to run up the cookie count with another. Time will tell.

  • Hoss December 2, 2021, 5:16 AM

    Ghost- I will raise a glass to both you and Shannon this evening. My wife and I have been through those hard times after losing our beloved “mutts” and it is difficult. So glad you found the one you needed and hope for you both to have many more years together.

  • SundogJax December 2, 2021, 6:20 AM

    Dogs and beer prove God loves us. We’re on #7. Our first was Flash, a mixed Belgian Sheppard in ’72.
    The ONLY salve for dog-loss pain is another dog.
    Teach ’em and love ’em gives 1000% ROI. Thanks!

  • Nori December 2, 2021, 7:02 AM

    Great story,Ghost. Your Shannon is a beauty; love the snow pic. That harness type she’s sporting is a wonderful invention; the blue one I got for my 130 lb Akita boy put an end to his sled-dog tendency to pull my arms from their sockets.
    Shannon and her Ghost;it’s a wondrous gift from on High,that bond that turns a strong man to soft butter. Wishing you both a long and happy time together,with many more cookies.

    That’s a perfect poem from Kipling,jwm. Extraordinary man.

    What did we ever do to deserve dogs?

  • rabbit tobacco December 2, 2021, 7:24 AM

    woof woof

  • Chris December 2, 2021, 4:48 PM

    Ghost, that was some awesome writing. Good on ya for the break through and finding that dog, as well as finding yourself. Been there myself.

  • TC December 2, 2021, 7:14 PM

    Great read. I prefer the company of my dog to nearly all humans, and have most of my life.

  • robehr orinsky December 3, 2021, 4:38 PM

    Getting close to saying goodbye to my old coon girl Daisy . Although we have had mostly German guard type dogs over the years this Tennessee Walker bitch is the single best watch/guard/sense dog we have ever had . She has senses not yet understood by mere humans and can hear/smell/sense a neighbors kid walking down my township road two miles away . I hate the thought but I know it is coming . We have to say adios .