OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — He’s in the shop all the time.
Phillip Ferguson literally lives with the engines he rebuilds.
His shop is above his crowded workspace.
But he also lives with Cookie, a 6-year-old mutt left by a customer when she was just a pup.
“They called me about 5 in the morning and said, ‘man I forgot my dog in your shop’,” he recalls. “When they came to get her the next day I said, ‘I’ll give you $40 for it and they said, ‘sold’.”
When dogs and humans are together all the time the result is often a special relationships.
Phillip and Cookie have that going for them.
But Ferguson recalls noticing something extra after Cookie figured out the whole house training trick.
“In between 4 and 6 months old she started catching everything I taught her,” he says.
In addition to being sweet, this was one ‘smart cookie’ too.
Ferguson insists, “I’ve never seen a dog that can do the things she does. You’ve only partially seen the things she does.”
They work together in this park off 10th Street in Oklahoma City, even on the cold days.
This is where Phillip and his dog learned to count.
“Okay. Give me 7,” he tells Cookie.
Cookie barks 7 times.
“Now give me 6,” he tells her.
Cookie barks 6 times with a cough between barks 4 and 5.
He says the number ten may even be an artificial limit.
“It’s unbelievable,” he boasts. “I think if I had more fingers she could count higher.”
The two of them worked out all kinds of variations on fetch the stick.
Cookie even understands a crude type of sign language.
“I signed her to get up,” he explains of his hand signal to call Cookie to him.
Phillip and Cookie are an inseparable pair, always together whatever they may be doing.
For most people a single cookie is never enough, but when you’ve got a cookie like this one is almost too much to handle.
Ferguson has also developed an interesting way to entertain the kids in his neighborhood.
Cookie will pop balloons he sets out but only as many as he counts.