Feb 132014


For years now the very first two questions I get from people who see me or email me are, “How is Phoenix doing?” followed immediately by, “Has he stole your hat lately?”

They always want to hear about our latest escapades and adventures of which the most frequent have involved my ball caps. He has a hate/love relationship with them.  Being that Phoenix hates the ball cap being on my noggin’ or lying around unattended and he loves them when they are securely in his possession. Kind of like a lot of things we desire in life, eh?

He is a Golden Retriever with a long rap sheet full of felony grand larceny accusations. He’s never been convicted of any official crime because every court in the land would dismiss such charges due to a dog suffering from an overwhelming case of cuteness and kindness.

Yes, my lifelong dream of owning a Golden Retriever came true after 25 years of hoping and praying. Only this one came fully accessorized with horns and a forked tail. Trust me…they are there. Be careful what you wish for.


Let me give you the introduction to when I first wrote about it with a picture for people to see. It was last May and I was still so tentative on my blog but found a little following on Facebook. The lead in to the story is that it was a hazy early Saturday evening with Phoenix and I sitting out in the backyard on the cool grass. I am very close friends with a couple of girls that I work with and their families. One of them in particular is one of my best friends. We talk frequently and…oh heck…just read the text I put on Facebook that evening:

Holy Dog Text!!!!!!

(yes, this is Phoenix, I’m a Golden Retriever, and I can text…pretty badass, huh?)

My Daddy and I were sitting here in the backyard playing ball and loving on each other on this very warm Saturday summer evening.

Father Of The Year whipped his cell phone out of his pocket. I said, “Don’t do it…”

He had that whiskey eye and composed a text to one of his closest female friends in the world. And just as I was telling him, “DO NOT TAP SEND…!!!”

He tapped Send.

I TRY to be his filter everyone just so you know!

His message to her, “Why have you been ignoring me?” (she was just busy btw…)

*groaning to myself* Ohhhh noooo…


Daddy’s friend is very pregnant, not in the mood for just about anything and rather than her replying back…

Poof!!! …a brief puff of smoke and no more Daddy.

He was vaporized. Well, I will be damned, that was pretty cool!!!”hat10

Through the magic of creative writing I was able rematerialize.

Back to the story of my adorable but notorious ball cap bandito. One day as a pup, he was sitting there (same place as in the picture below) on the couch with me and I thought awwww how cute. I will put my ball cap on his head for a kind of father/son bonding like Disney makes classic movies about. And yes, he is literally watching tv while gnawing on his chew stick.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He immediately flipped his head in annoyance and pawed my hand and the cap away wanting no part of it. I’ve had him from the minute he was old enough to leave his mom. So, you’re going to tell me one moment in time would imprint a behavior forever? The proof appears to be quite affirmatively in the pudding.

Aside from when I’m at work I always, always have a ball cap on. Maybe it’s my adult Linus and Blankie Syndrome. But, like Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and The Bandit” I only take it off for one thing. Only that The Bandit came off cool saying that. Not me. I’m more of a Cledus with my Basset Hound named Fred good lookin’ kind of guy. 

Phoenix, “And Daddy has had his hat on for a very loooong time…”
Me, “Thank you very much for sharing that, Phoenix.”
Him, wagging his tail and smiling with delight, “Oh not a problem!”

Today it has evolved into a game sometimes by accidental misplacement and occasionally due to my teasing him or getting too close with the bill of my cap. I will followup on the latter shortly. 

One very late night last summer I was loving on him and giving him kisses on the couch while we were watching tv. It was two minutes after I took this that I poofed air in his face for fun (which he does not like)…Phoenix Stolen Ballcap 7-12-13 post


 And with his lightning quick ability this was the result…hat5

When he escapes with his treasured prize and ultimate pleasure he laughs his ass off at me…hat9

 He dares and taunts me with the cap at his feet before the chase and wrestling begins between the two of us…hat8

 I’ve tried wearing different ball caps but to no avail…hat7

He has never chewed a single one and is not doing so here. He is mouthing it…for real…hat6

 There have been several tug of wars (for fun on my part, but for keeps on his and look at the war glare in his intense eyes)…hat4

 He can be so smug and mock me after …hat3

 Then we finally had a Come to Geezus moment last Fall and I told him that the bill of my cap will no longer be in front whenever I remember to turn it around. I completely baffled him but it was only a temporary reprieve. As you can see by his look he’s already going to Plan B…hat1

I wouldn’t trade a single minute of our fun and games together for anything in the world!!

Love ya with all of my heart, Phoenix…

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 40+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories, commentary, and (of course) my greatest love... my Golden Retriever, Phoenix.

  112 Responses to “Phoenix, My Golden Retriever, The Notorious Ball Cap Bandito”

  1. One of you is messing with the other’s mind. I not sure who is doing what to whom, but clearly you are both winners. (PS: I got to spend this evening with a bull mastiff and a Bulldog —both adorable–in a big (giant) dog sorta way. 🙂

    • There is definitely a lot of finger pointing going on between us,Suzanne! I absolutely loved that pic of you and the Bull Mastiff 🙂

  2. Phoenix has so much personality – and interesting how soothing he finds the ball cap. Our dog has used slippers she happily trots around – especially when she’s ready to play.
    Today – Valentine’s Day our dog turned 10; she’s having a treat and it’s not a baseball cap but a pig’s ear.

    • How ironic you mentioned the slipper as that will be another post, Leigh! You’re right on the comforting thing. A very Happy Birthday to your sweet girl! Bet that pig’s ear is a yummy treat!

  3. Hi Mike,

    Phoenix is so cute and his little antics remind me of another cute puppie in the neighbourhood, who is such an expert in catching a ball thrown away, that he catches it before it hits the ground…it is such fun watching him!

    Thanks for sharing a lovely story!

    • That is great on enjoying the puppy ball catching antics, Balroop! I’m glad you liked the post and I’ll have to get some Phoenix tennis ball stories going here eventually 🙂

  4. You two are adorable! I can imagine myself writing about my cats–most pictures would just their faces which couldn’t care less haha

    • Thank you so much, Aleah! I’ve seen the pictures of your kitties and they are adorably cute. You should write up a post about their personalities, etc! 🙂

  5. I’m pretty sure every puppy on the planet comes with horns and razor-sharp teeth! My sweet boy MacAfee was no exception, and though he’s outgrown his puppy mischief, he’s as good once as he ever was and can still get up to some serious trouble. Loved this post. The writing, the clear love between the two of you, and the adorable pictures!!

    • I sooooo appreciate the awesome compliments, Nicole! Yes, even our older dogs can raise all sorts of comical heck, huh? MacAfee is such a beautiful boy and loved your pics and sharing about him on your post 🙂

  6. Ha! My dog used to do that with hair ties. He thought it was the best game EVER.

    • Phoenix absolutely loves women (don’t know where he got that from), Chrissy. So hair ties would likely send him into a frenzy lol! 🙂

  7. Haha! Love that story Mike! Phoenix has so much personality! He’s so adorable too!

    • We both appreciate your compliments very much, Rita! He is even cuter in person if you can believe that 🙂 Luv your new Avatar young lady! 🙂

  8. Mike, my computer decided to flip out on me, so I’m so sorry I’m coming to the Phoenix mike party so late.

    His facial expressions are precious. I think I might just cave and give him my cap if I were you. With that face, how could you not? Happy valentines day, my internet friend. I hope you had a wonderful day.

    • You weren’t late at all, my dear! You really hit it on the head (no pun intended) with his facial expressions. Albeit it’s part of the blessing that naturally occurs with Golden Retrievers but Phoenix takes FULL advantage of that attribute! So awesome to hear from you, Mandi 🙂

  9. Aw, I love the Phoenix stories!

    • Oh most cool, Ally! I like writing all of my stories but Phoenix, of course, is my nearest and dearest 🙂

  10. Awww, I just love your pictures and of course, the narration of beloved Phoenix. Happy Valentine’s day, you two!

    • So glad you were able to stop in today, Lisa! I figured folks would be really busy. Thank you for the compliments! A very Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you too! 🙂

  11. Hi Mike

    It sounds like a Happy Valentine’s Day story to me!

    Kind of neat how our pets can have precious “games” we play together. My youngest Siamese loves for me to slide her across the blanket in the morning. It is synthetic so it shocks her and me, but she keeps running back for more. She is purring the whole time. She will meow until I do it and I wonder how long she would play the game if I didn’t say it was enough.

    Cute pictures.


  12. Great as always, but any story about Phoenix is my favorite, and there have been several. You write with humor, truth and love. When you can make others smile and relate to your stories it says you are pretty great yourself. Keep up the GREAT work.

    • Wow, what an epic compliment Connie! Thank you, thank you…and also for calling me and tolerating putting up a comment lol 🙂 You are absolutely right though in the ultimate pleasure in writing a blog. If folks are left with a smile or laughter then that’s a pretty good post, huh? Your encouragement is the BEST! 🙂

  13. Phoenix is a beautiful dog!!! We have two pugs and the male is funny about hats, too. He always tries to steal them off our heads!

    • Phoenix and your pugs are three birds of a feather eh, Marcia! I always wonder what the hat looks like to them and what they are thinking. Besides…MUST. HAVE. NOW 🙂

  14. Ok first, the photos are absolutely amazing and you’ve done SUCH a good job at capturing Phoenix’s looks and moods and messing with you moments. In his defense (you’re welcome, Phoenix), it WOULD be uber confusing to have you disappear!
    I think I love the photo of him laughing the most. And OMG I miss Chief. Big. Oops, sorry that was a downer on your beautiful blog here. The connection that man is able to have with dogs is incredible. Dogs are truly the very best parts of us, and I think that’s why we love them (and why they tolerate us) so very very much. I’m in love with these photos, guys and wish you both the very happiest of Valentine’s Days. I hope you’re in the yard throwing balls, right now. Who is fetching is unimportant, really.

    • We both appreciate your beautiful words and compliments deeply towards us, Kristi. Yes, the bond that people can have with their dogs is almost indescribable to a non-believer or non-dog owner.

      MOST importantly I will apologize to you 1,000 fold about wishing Chief a Happy Valentine’s Day without having a clue in the world he was no longer with us! I’m dreadfully sorry, our dear friend!

      It was absolutely awesomesauce to hear from you as always 🙂 Xxx’s

  15. Very Nice post ! We all love this post so much & one of the most important thing is Dog Photo. Which is really amazing 🙂

  16. Seeing photos of Phoenix through the ages is a delight! The one of him chewing a stick is tooooo cute! I love your playful relationship and seeing it always puts a smile on my face and also makes me miss my dog. It’s always nice to be reminded of her. She used to bite through all my clothing as a puppy so I was glad when she outgrew her teething period – but still not sure if I would have trusted her with any of my hats!

    • Thank you so much, Shing! Phoenix and I have so much fun together and he’s an absolute riot of mischief antics. Soooo playful. Oh yes, those razor sharp puppy teeth can most definitely shred items to ribbons! I would so love to hear more about your dog! So sorry you miss her and it’s wonderful to hear from you. We hope you’re having safe travels 🙂

  17. Oh my word. Your pictures to go with the story crack me up. I so needed this laugh today.
    Mine is the sock bandit. he used to be the dirty underwear bandit. I’m beginning to think that he has no taste buds. Weird creatures aren’t they.

    • LOL the dirty underwear bandit! That made ME laugh, Kim! You reminded me of a memory I completely forgot about. Right in the throes of my divorce many years ago. I had left some laundry on the floor when I got called into work. I came home later and found them shredded. I accused my upcoming ex of cutting them up. Until I saw my dog hump up and poop out Hanes in the yard 🙂

  18. So cute, our dog is rescued but I think she must have some Golden Retriever in her some where, especially after looking at these photos!

  19. My heart just melted all over the floor, honey. All over!

    I love Phoenix soOOOoooooo much.

    Does he wear T-Shirts?

    Xxx LOVE. HUGS. Etc…

    • LOL…wearing a T-shirt? He has hated ball caps near his head since he was a puppy! That would be a disaster. Though I would love to get him to wear an Assistance Vest so that we could travel to Germany and take our special picture in the Alps together, Kim! Sending you love back and he melts my heart every second 🙂

    • I wanted to send him a really pretty PINK t-shirt to bring out his feminine side !!! xx

    • Well, you will have to put it on him Kim because that isn’t even up for discussion for me to attempt again. Been there! And I have no doubt he would be putty in your hands. Man’s Best Friend…hmpf! 🙂

  20. I love that dog!! He’s still such a troublemaker!! Like every good son should be. Always loving when they need food, but right back to causing Chaos at the flip of a switch. By the way Phoenix texted me at 2am last night, could you please tell him that valentines day is over and him pranking me thinking he was interrupting “something” was uncalled for…I was sleeping!!!!

    • Rut-row….sowee Uncle Chad! I love you and your family too. I get so outta control on our night off! 🙂

  21. Canine reprobate – for sure. *grin*

  22. Well add me to the list of melting hearts; what a sweetheart of a story and so perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend. Sometimes the best of loves are not between two humans but between two beings. . .loved this post. Happy V-Day to you both!

    • In hindsight I would have presented it as a Valentine’s Day post but all of you got it without me saying so, Jackie! Our love is like no other 🙂

  23. I love this, because I have a bandit too. Just give him the hat and be done with it. 🙂 Haha Our Murphy is part Golden, part German Shepard and all thief. He steals food from the pantry, clothes and shoes that are left out, dog beds, pretty much anything that isn’t nailed down. And he takes it all through his dog door into the poor area where he demolishes it and then acts like nothing every happened. Who me?! He is the best dog though! What’s up with Goldens? 🙂

    • Phoenix is sitting right here reading this as I type. He would like to text Murphy…and he told me none of my biz! How rude. Love your comment, Michelle! No kidding, what’s up??

  24. THAT FACE. Omg that face. He’s so precious I can’t deal with it. I’d just give in and hand him everything: slippers, wallet, shoes…whatever he wanted.

    We had a chocolate lab for 13 years; he was our first baby. He had his own baby photo album and everything! We doted on that boy. Both my sons remember him, although he passed several years ago. His precious face got him out of any trouble!

    love this, Mike. 🙂

    • What an awesome comment, Beth! I’m so glad you “get” Phoenix and I. Yes, I would do anything for him and protect him with my life. Though, he sees that as his job. He’s my soul mate…folks get it or they don’t. If not, that’s a them problem. Labs and Golden’s…sign me up forever and I hope to go to the place above where they are…my higher power willing. I would love to hear more about your Lab and stories about him if you ever wish to share! 🙂

  25. Once again, I am brought to lots of smiles and a warm heart reading the adventures of Mike and Phoenix. Thank again for a wonderful story.

  26. Phoenix is so adorable 🙂 …

  27. I’m not sure, I would have had that forbearance. But of course I have never met Phoenix in person:).

    • Ya know, one of my whimsical dreams is to be able to fly all of my blogging/Phoenix “fans” in to Reno for a picnic day. As much as try to capture his personality in writing nothing could ever top meeting him in person, Mette 🙂

  28. I love phoenix and am so happy he has the best dad in the world!

  29. Hahaha funny post! Such cute photos too of Phoenix! 😀

    • Aww, thank you so much, Michelle! We are so thrilled you could stop by. Keep it up with school and enjoy those travels! Looking forward to your next post 🙂

  30. Oh my goodness, he was such a cute puppy. Count me in for the picnic. Will you be stripping chickens again?

    • Gosh I would so love to do that. But, just highly unlikey for time coordination and money. But, never say never right, Jennifer? I would definitely come up some great eats for a huge picnic. It’s called a caterer lol! 🙂

  31. That puppy photo of him is absolutely adorable. He looks so innocent and incapable of ever stealing anyone’s ballcap.

    • He actually is the sweetest, friendliest dog and best friend I could have ever dreamt of having in my life, Michele. There are definitely a lot of fun, humorous antics to his personality as well! Thank you so much for the compliment on his pic and about him! 🙂

  32. He really is a gorgeous dog (and apparently has a pretty bloody good sense of humour!)

    • Yes, he’s a riot and makes me laugh all of the time, Becc! Thank you so much on the compliment about him! 🙂

  33. What sweeties… both of you 😉 I bet he likes how the hat smells so much like you. I think all dogs get miffed by the poof of air to the face. Zoey and I had fun out in the yard today since the sun was out and Spring is in the air. I clipped a bush and she thought that was every entertaining. Anything I do out there makes her go wild and run all over the yard.

    • Isn’t the yard word behavior the funniest thing, Jeri?? Phoenix does the same thing as Zoey. The excitement of being in THEIR world and even the slightest alteration we are capable of making to it. I just picture her running around. Too cute! I so appreciate that nice compliment too 🙂

  34. So adorable. Makes me really want a dog of my own!

    • Hi Arianwen, how wonderful to hear from you! You’re obviously a little busy for a doggie pal now but I hope you have the one of your dreams someday when you settle in for a bit! And thank you 🙂

  35. Phoneix with “horns and a forked tail”? My cute, innocent Phoenix?! Nooo! 😉 Gosh – in the 3rd pic down, he looks sooo much like Brandon! I keep telling Jave that whenever we move, we MUST get a Golden, and your Phoenix posts and my memories of Brandon always drive home that desire. 🙂

    • That put a smile on my face about the Brandon reminder, Dana. I know taking shots at my boy on a post…but as you see and hear he gets more than his share right back at me lol! I know it’s virtually impossible to give a Golden the life the deserve if you’re traveling all of the time. But, I hope you and Jave can make it happen! 🙂

  36. Love the comic book like story. Very creative! It reminds me of writing prompts in school where you just randomly told to write about something and that something turned out amazing.

    • Very true on the writing prompts and I was just talking with someone about that very thing earlier today ironically! I’m so glad you liked it Krystle and Phoenix provides stories on a daily basis 🙂

  37. So adorable, both of you 😉 Glad you are having so much fun together. Those puppy pictures of Phoenix are incredible, he was and still is so cute.

    • Thank you so very much and yes I think he’s just as cute now….always and forever. We do have so much fun and appreciate your support and friendship always! 🙂

  38. Seeing your dog’s expressions, I guess he doesn’t have to have a human voice. Our dog was black & white and he loved a b & w stuffed dog which had to be next to him at all times. Now we have 4 grand-dogs and love them all.

    • Your pup must have thought the stuffed dog was a brother/sister and like a mirror image of himself huh, Neva? That’s so awesome on your grand-dogs! 🙂

  39. Ha ha, love your writing style and the way Phoenix keeps tabs on you 🙂 He is so gorgeous. I pinned him as a puppy 🙂

    • I appreciate your compliments so much, Jan! That is SO NICE of you that you Pinned him! Lordy, his head is already big as it is with his “celebrity” status lol 🙂

  40. I’m sure by the time, I’ve commented wise-old Phoenix has a way of getting to those pesky caps! With my golden lab, Pyrite, it was always mittens…What you want to wear them? What what?

    • I would have loved to met Pryite, Corinne! How funny on the mittens, huh? The things of our’s that they wish to possess 🙂

  41. Gosh Phoenix you melt my heart, you are so much like my boys …..full of mischief. Love your games, love your big eyes and your sweet heart. Yesterday we were down at the beach with Kyle {he was surfing} and we watched two dogs swimming , one of them was just like you….same colour. He was so brave surfing with his owner, it gave me a smile imaging you doing the same with your dad Mike!

    • Thank you for sending us that video of the beach with the Down Under “Phoenix”, Lisa! That made our day, our friend 🙂 Yes, he and are definitely connected at the hip…on every level! 🙂

  42. What an absolutely beautiful guy (the dog:-)

  43. Such a fun story and history. It is amazing he doesn’t chew the hat! I love that last picture because you really can see thoughts forming! You do write a good tale!!

    • While odd I’m very glad he’s never chewed one of them, Nan. I’m sure it comes down to wanting my attention which he wants a lot of. And I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

    • Well he’s a very special family member, and bee-you-tea-full, too! Tell him I said so. And thanks for the kind words on my blog, too!!

    • I did just now pass on your words and you are very welcome! 🙂

  44. Phoenix is completely adorable and this is truly a heartwarming love story! ♥ You were made for each other, Mike! 😀

    • We were made for each other, Debbie. You nailed it. He’s a blessing beyond anything I could have ever hoped and prayed for. Thank you for your awesome compliments! 🙂

  45. I missed you guys. Great to hear and see Phoenix grown up!

    • Oh wow, I can’t wait to get home and show Phoenix who said hi to him, Agness!!! One of his favs!! He will be so excited and we both missed you terribly, our friend 🙂

  46. Love the look on his face, Mike. I can see why you don’t want to miss a moment with him. Adorable.

    • You said about time spent with him, Marcia. Making every minute count. Thank you for the wonderful compliments! 🙂

  47. Oh he is gorgeous! He would have got on well with our dearly departed, mildly insane, collie Shauna. She was obsessed with stealing bunches of bananas. To be fair, she would take any food that was within her reach, but she would go the extra mile for a bunch of bananas then run around the garden tossing them in the air.

    • Aww, thank you so much Claire! LOL to the “mildly insane” Shauna. She must have been a hoot and and such a joy to have a around. That gave me a big smile and a laugh about her tossing the bananas around. Have a great day! 🙂

  48. Love the pics! Best looking Bandito I have ever seen!

    • Oh hey, that absolutely rocks from you, Uncle Tony! Phoenix will love this and thank you so much 🙂

  49. I’m late to the party on this post, but I do have one question.

    So when you say, “Aside from when I’m at work I always, always have a ball cap on. Maybe it’s my adult Linus and Blankie Syndrome. But, like Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and The Bandit” I only take it off for one thing.”

    You are referring to showering, right?! 😉

  50. Love this! Those pictures are just adorable especially Phoenix as a pup and him mocking and laughing at you. I don’t know how you manage to get the best expressions from him to go along with your story. Brilliant, Mike. Sorry I’m late to this party too. Hope you two have a wonderful weekend.

    • Thank you so much, Mary, this made our day. We love hearing from you whenever you get here! My “luck” in getting the pictures is having the camera always ready (and out of his reach off of the table ha, ha) to catch his mood literally in the moment. The rest is all Phoenix! We hope the four of you have a great week, our friend! 🙂

  51. So. Cute. Neither of my boys has ever fetched anything, so I am sort of jealous!

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Abby! It is a blast to have him retrieve things (that he’s SUPPOSED to) and has done so immediately since he was a puppy. Hopefully you might be able to teach your boys?? 🙂

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