A chocolate Labrador, Cosmos was born near Columbus, Nebraska from a long line of duck dogs, who retrieved hunted waterfowl from the early winter waters of the Platte River. When she was a young pup, she was shipped to Vermont where she spent eleven years raising ruckus around Lincoln and beyond, charming children and, at times, annoying humorless humans. Had Cosmos lived in England’s Yorkshire Dales some 60 years ago, she surely would have been subject matter of James Herriot, for Cosmos was a dog of the town folk.
A party girl, when the neighbors hosted a solstice party, Cosmos was there. Did she smell the BBQ, or notice the increase in cars, or hear the boisterous laughter? She was quick to join frolicking in the snow, eating hotdogs, and chasing other dogs and sleds. When the town fire department grilled chicken for a fundraiser in the center of town a mile away? No problem finding out about that and paying a visit—better than dog chow and lots of new friends to be made.
For a spell, we experienced frequent calls about her visits to the elementary school during recess and the after-school program:
“Hello. Is this the owner of Cosmos?”
“I’m not sure Cosmos can be owned, but yes I am the one listed on her collar.”
“We just want to let you know Cosmos is here at the school playground.”
“Oh my, I’ll come fetch her right away.”
“No, no. Not right now! Can you wait until recess is over, say 12:35? The children are having so much fun running around with her.”
The family across the street didn’t have a dog, so Cosmos would often pinch hit, sitting on the couch with the kids watching TV, eating ice cream, and sometimes staying for a sleepover. When the other neighbors lost their dog, Cosmos moved in for several days.
Cosmos also knew when to sound the bark alarm. We live on a steep, dirt road that becomes very icy at times. One early morning the plow truck didn’t make the curve and slid off the road, down the embankment, rolling on its side. The truck was invisible in the pea soup fog. Cosmos ran across the road and barked and barked until I came out to find the source of the problem. Thankfully, the driver was not hurt and climbed out of the cab. Had he been unconscious, it would have been Cosmos who saved him.
Cosmos was not only a dog-about-town. A backwoods adventurer, she liked to ride in the canoe. But if she saw ducks, she would spring out of that canoe, like a frog from a lilly pad. While she was not a pointer, she could find upland game birds, flush and retrieve them. As soon as you took the shotgun from the gun cabinet, she would run in circles around the house barking and yipping with joyous anticipation. A fearless swimmer, Cosmos would dive in after sticks in the thundering whitewater of the swollen New Haven River in early spring. She could hike and hunt all day, tiring only when we got back to her beloved truck.
We were caught by surprise—she seemed immortal— when she reached the age of eleven and contracted a disease that brought her wonderful life to a rapid end. She is buried next to our old English Pointer Pie, who was a partner in crime with Cosmos for many years. Cosmos earned the distinction of being arrested in three states. Each time we picked her up, the dog warden declared something like, "If you ever need to give up Cosmos, I'd love to have her. She's something special."
There were many dogs before Cosmos and will be at least several more after her, but she will always be The Best Dog in the Universe.