Kevin Cooney is in his 18th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic
University of the Atlantic Sun Conference and 22nd overall. A former pitching
star at Montclair State, Cooney has led FAU to an average of 46 wins per season
the past six years. He as guided the Blue Wave to a 273-106 record and five NCAA
Regionals in the past six years. This is the second year he has offered his thoughts on
baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Feb. 3, 2005
It's a Dog's Life
Things are always hectic this time of year…opening day is around the corner,
we have a big fundraising dinner Feb. 26th and we just celebrated our
Alumni Weekend. When it gets that way, I envy the life of a dog. They lie around
all day, play with family members, get fed, walked and bathed. In most cases
they get, and give unconditional love. Not too shabby!
Seven years ago, my wife, Mary Beth, and I were four months into the support
of a pregnant woman in the Tampa area. She was single and not in a position to
keep this unplanned baby. In a private adoption, the mother selects the adoptive
parents from a group presented to her by the adoption attorney. If you get
selected, you are responsible for all expenses the woman incurs over the course
of the pregnancy. This includes rent, food, clothing, pre-natal medical, etc. It
adds up, but at the end, the baby is adopted, and you start a new family life.
Two days before Christmas, our attorney called and said the contract was
being voided because the young woman had failed a drug test. She was positive
for marijuana and cocaine.
Mary Beth got the call as she was preparing for a two-day trip. She was a
flight attendant for American Airlines. This was pretty tough news for a woman
who had gone through two years of hoping to start a family and spending six
weeks waiting to be selected as an adoptive parent, then four months of waiting
and praying things would go as planned.
Now MB had to get on a plane and deal with happy passengers flying home for
Christmas and their loved ones. We’ve never discussed it, but that must have
been a tough trip to work.
Meanwhile back in Boca, my sons Jim and Jeff were down to spend Christmas
with us. As we finished up some last-minute shopping, they both felt we should
get MB a dog. She lived on a farm and really loves animals. It was tempting, but
with both of us sometimes traveling at the same time, I wasn’t sure it would
work. Plus, husbands are bad enough shoppers, a dog as a surprise gift was
risky. I also wasn’t sure about her frame of mind.
Just before dinner, Jeff decided he needed batteries for a gift he was giving
Jim, so he and I drove over to Kmart.
As we pulled in the lot, Jeff screamed, “DOOOGGGS!!!”
The Humane Society had about six dogs and some cats out front, hoping for
some Christmas adoptions. Jeff wouldn’t let up on me. I said we’d look at them,
but I didn’t think it was a good idea.
There were three dogs tied together. Two of them were barking and jumping at
everyone passing by them. One big white dog just sat between them and watched. I
said to Jeff that the white one was my kind of dog.
Her name was Misty. I took her for a walk and she was real easy on the leash
and took care of business around the corner. Jeff was jumping up and down
begging me to adopt her. But what would be MB’s reaction to a surprise new
family member, especially one whose care would fall mostly in her lap?
We brought her home.
Christmas Eve…Jim and Jeff, sound asleep while I lay awake praying I made the
Suddenly, I heard a strange loud noise. I entered the family room to find our
new dog lying on her back in front of the Christmas tree, snoring to beat the
Christmas day came, and the plan was to have Jeff keep the dog in his room
when MB got home. He’d then bring her out and we’d all look for a happy
reaction. But I forgot to remove the dog food and the leash from the kitchen, so
the surprise was shot, but MB didn’t throw anything at me.
The dog was a keeper. Her name would be Katie. It was a name we wanted for a
Katie filled a void for a short time, then, we got a call from our attorney.
A couple realized they couldn’t keep their baby who was due in May.
We were back in the waiting game.
Four months later Maggie came home to meet Katie.
Katie loved coming to our baseball games. She would sense it was time to go
as she saw Mary Beth get ready each night. The grass hill down the left field
line became our family area. I could see them from our dugout and it always
brought a smile to my face.
The Humane Society had rescued Katie in the Jupiter area. She had been found
wandering, very sick, full of mange and pregnant. After being nursed back to
health, they guessed she was a White Shepherd. When her coat finally came in
with us we had a beautiful Samoyed.
Katie took all Maggie, and then, Luke could give her. She was like a big
stuffed bear. She traveled great, making the trip to Tennessee like a trooper.
She toured New Jersey and Pennsylvania and was loved by all that met her.
The last few years got tougher on her. She had two shotgun pellets in her
hip, souvenirs of her life on the run, and had a disk problem in her back. But
she never seemed in pain, and we still loved her.
The past month, Katie’s back legs got worse. It got to the point where we had
to hold her back end up so she could walk or stand.
She took a turn for the worse yesterday and our vet encouraged us to let him
put her down.
This morning was tough.
The circumstances that brought Katie to us always made her more than a dog to
She was a link from my first family to my second. Jeff’s insistence on her
adoption eased some pain for us and brought us seven years of happiness. Katie
and my wife had a special bond.
Mary Beth stayed with her and Dr. Phillips to the end. I waited in the
parking lot and remembered the joy of having Katie chase me around the outfield
and wrestling with her on the Bermuda grass she loved so much.
Driving home from the Vet’s, we passed a funeral procession of cars.
I know she was just a dog, and those people have a greater loss, I’m a grown
I’ll miss her.
'You've Got to Learn to Live with What You Can't Rise Above' (1/31/05)
25 Years of FAU Baseball (1/16/05)
So this is Christmas (12/24/04)
The Graduate (12/8/04)
Thanksgiving in Palm Beach County (11/25/04)
An Empty Seat (11/10/04)
Fall is in the Air (10/21/04)
Hurricane Carmen (9/24/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)