Paula Jean's special bond by Brittany Bulens
Pembroke —Paula Jean of Pembroke has formed a unique connection to her 5-year-old Bichon frise Cooper.
Jean, who works as a teaching assistant for the Pilgrim Area Collaborative, found her passion for motorcycle riding after putting her last dog to sleep, although she has always suffered from separation anxiety.
“It’s something I’ve had all my life,” she said. “I’ve never been out of New England.”
Jean’s condition restricted her from enjoying some of the small pleasures in life, but that would all change when she met Cooper.
“I went six years without a dog, until I decided I wanted to train one,” she said.
Jean raised Cooper from the time he was born to be a therapeutic dog.
“The training process and focusing on his behavior in public became a compulsion,” she said, “It was a distraction from my anxiety.”
At 10 weeks, Cooper took his first ride in the motorcycle. The combination of her new companion and her love for riding sparked Jean’s transition into a freer lifestyle. Jean and Cooper spend a lot of time riding together, and this past weekend rode for 505 miles, bringing Cooper’s total to more than 20,000 miles.
“Last summer, Cooper and I went camping together, just me and him on the bike to Connecticut,” she said, “And that is really a huge deal for me.”
The trip proved to be a significant triumph for Jean, who said, “I could have never done that before.”
While Jean enjoys riding with Cooper in a few groups, such as Women on Wheels and New England Thunder, their camaraderie continues to open new doors for Jean.
“There was an article written about us in ‘Dog Fancy,’” she said. “But after the writer interviewed me, I asked her questions about how she does it.”
Jean became instantly interested in the writing process.
“Since then I have sold an article for ‘Highway Travel,’ written four children’s stories and am looking for an agent,” she said.
Jean will be making a cross-country trip this summer with Cooper to California for the 25th annual National Women on Wheels ride in. If she is able to sell her Pembroke home, Jean will head west, with Cooper harnessed behind her, starting on June 24. She will be back in mid-August to begin work again and the building of her new house, but for the ride home she says there is no set agenda.
“Cooper has changed my life,” she said. “He has made my world big and ever-expanding.”