KoKo’s Tale: Introduction

  • Dear reader,

Most of the dogs in my tale are my neighbours and mates. My human Mum Helen is a very real person. I offer her my apologies for all the cheeky things I allude to when I mention her. I hope she has a good sense of humour.

When you read my book, you may form the opinion that I am a little egotistical. I won’t deny that but it is only the playful part of my personality. I am shy, very polite and willing to help anyone (as long as I get a treat as a reward!). I also have a heroic streak, a desperate need for cuddles, and a huge appetite for meaty treats.

As you meander through the tales in my book you will discover that I get caught in cat traps, trapped into telling tall tales, and even make a leap into love. I experience freakish accidents, make mad adventures, and get tangled in silly scraps with a bee and a snake. I also have a rare fear for a dog, (Yes, I will admit it up front) –  I fear cats, but more of that later.

For the sake of fun, please allow me to exaggerate my skills a little. Yes, I know dogs can’t usually talk but I am a clever dog. I portray how I feel by opening my big brown eyes, changing the tilt of my head, altering the speed of my tail wag, and by barking in numerous forms of loudness. My human Mum, who features often in this story, then interprets what she thinks I am saying.

Dogs are also not well known for their communication skills, but I believe we can offer humans profound wisdom if only they would read the cues we give them. I’m firmly convinced that dogs can infuse happiness in humans, just like the hot water that runs through the coffee beans at my favourite Subiaco Cafes.

Dogs also help humans overcome loneliness by teaching them to be mindful of life and reminding them they can be playful.

My human Mum and I often have little conflicts when I want to stop at a cafe for another Puppicino, or I am not ready to leave the park. Guess who wins? I am only a little dog but boy I have some power when I want my way.

Quote about KoKo (Excerpt from Post Community Newspaper Jan 19th, 2013 Page 4)

“Subiaco resident KoKo is seven and a half years old, loves sausages and coffee, has 500 dog mates, eats muffin scraps off the footpath – and religiously reads the Post Newspaper every Friday.” KoKo, a Maltese Shih-Tsu, is also a prolific author and writes a blog which is closely read by other dogs and their humans. He says “The biggest community newspaper in Subiaco is the ground us dogs walk on. I learn a lot about what happens in my suburb from sniffing all the Wee-Mails left by my friends on the Wee-Trees planted by the City of Subiaco Staff.”

Give a home to a refuge dog.

If you are thinking of buying a puppy, please look at Refuge homes.

There are lots of doggies longing for permanent homes.

Leave the Puppy farm dogs at the pet shop please. KoKo

Refuge dog

Buy a Refuge dog not a puppy farm one please

Changing Seasons in my life – KoKo

A Summer Poem

– by KoKo ShakesPaw

Feel the touch,

Of scorched grass

Of scratchy weeds

Of summer not past


Baking in an oven

Slinking in the shade

Waiting to discover

Cool, water in which to wade


Bright glare

Sweaty sleep

Dry mouth

Poor burnt little feet!


Mum, can we please go down

To the cool of Cottesloe beach?


A Winter’s Tale

– by KoKo ShakesPaw

Frosty grass, bitter wind

Wet paws, I don’t mind

Early dark mornings

Are spooky but fine


It’s the wet fluff on my back

That gets too heavy to cope

I need Mum to towel me

Or I will lie around and mope!


When the thunder claps

keep me inside

I need to play games

and find somewhere to hide


Oh I long for summer and long runs on the beach

The crispy leaves under my paws in autumn

Or maybe some days and weeks of each

And don’t forget, the happy buzzing of bees in spring



Black Dog Poems by KoKo and Helen


Every year in Australia about a million adults and a hundred thousand young people live with depression.  They live in a darkness that blocks them from feeling life’s happiness and joy.

Despite my being a dog, I understand a lot more about depression than most people. My Human Mum has spent a lot of her life struggling against its pull.

Mum told me one day that it was the main reason she searched for a happy little white dog to share her life. One who could help her keep the black dog at bay. She had no idea at that time that I would become such a vital part of her living. She depends on me for love, loyalty and laughter. I make her get up in the mornings and take me for a walk. She has to give me cuddles and take me to the park. I keep her from thinking too much.

At times I can see the big black dog’s shadow swamping Mum’s feelings. I can sense she feels his weight dragging her down. Other days she walks slowly as if struggling in deep mud. I know that he has hold of her and is trying to drag her backwards. On the very bad days, the Black Dog even tries to suffocate her and she cannot get out of bed.

When I heard people referring to depression as the “Black Dog” I thought it was a strange way to describe an illness. It gave my black dog friends a bad name. Now that I am older I realise it is a good term for some people to use. To them, depression is like their feelings are being swamped by an enormous furry blanket. It blocks light and weighs them down. It even follows them around persistently, just like a dog does to its owner.

My Mum Helen wrote some of these poems. As I am only ten years old my Mum had to help me to write the poems I told her. I would like humans who might be feeling suffocated by the Black Dog to understand that they are not alone. Please don’t be afraid to share your story.

Please don’t be afraid to share your story.

Black Dog Poem 1 – by Helen Potter

Black dog, Black dog

You give me such a fright

Creeping darkly into my sleep

Disrupting my calm night


You yap at my ankles

And nip at my heels

You surround me always

With no care how I feel


When I hear your deep growl

And your too familiar yelp

I know that once again

I’m going to need someone’s help


 Why do you keep returning

And causing me such pain?

Do you know how sad I feel
When you flatten me again?


You stop me from being

The kind person I am

You stop me from living life

And leave me feeling damned


Other dogs are full of love

And give so much

But I tremble and shake

At your slightest touch


Black dog, Black dog

You’re an awful hound

I wish for you, there was

A ranger and a pound!


Black Dog Poem 2– by KoKo ShakesPaw

My role as my Mum’s carer

is to keep her warm

Using my happy smile and love

to help her weather the storm  


It’s a continual fight against depression

But we always do it together

I make her get up out of bed

To walk me in any weather


I am Mum’s carer

And I love her to bits

She shows she loves me too 

by feeding me treats

 LSubiDogsCafeLochie18A5 copy

Black Dog Poem 3 – by Helen Potter

I’ve learned to like dogs at last

now that I’m no longer young

But there is one I wish would leave

Because he blocks my moon and sun


This bad Black dog says

He plans to sit and stay

How I wish so deeply

He would just go away


He does not care

That I’m crying and sad

He makes me feel low

And that I’m going mad


He nips at my heart

And bites at my soul

When he is around

I cannot be whole


Oh, how I wish the Black dog

Would find another home

Or get lost in the fog

And leave me alone


Black Dog Poem 4 – by KoKo ShakesPaw

I am my Mum’s carer

And her funny clown

I give her love and comfort

When she is falling down


I don’t ask her why

She feels so bad

I just sit by her side

Until she is less sad


My needs are important

I have to be fed

No matter what

I’ll not let her stay in bed


Black Dog Poem 5 – by KoKo ShakesPaw

Depression stalks people

When they are already down

The Black dog weighs so much 

His heaviness causes a frown


He grabs hold of black thoughts

And chucks them round your head

Round and round in a circle

Until you wish you were dead


He squashes your chest

So that you cannot breathe

Oh someone please help us

It is your strength that we need


 Seek help and someone to talk to at:

  • Act Belong Commit                 www.actbelongcommit.org.au
  • The Black Dog Institute          www.TheBlackDogInstitute.org.au
  • Beyond Blue                            www.beyondblue.org.au

With love and Woofs from

Helen and KoKo

Fun stuff from your trusty newshound KoKo

Do you have something to howl about?

  • Do you like any of my posts?
  • Do you think my Mum Helen’s dog photos are cute?
  • Have you found any worthwhile helpful information?
  • Most importantly – have you laughed at my shaggy dog stories or KoKo Shakespaws’ attempts at poetry?

I would love to read what you think. Please let me know.


KoKo being vocal as usual

How to contact KoKo


  1. WeeMail  me in you live in Subiaco (I’ll WeePly as soon as I find your message)
  2. Email me c/o potter.helen@iinet.net.au for an instant response
  3. Or leave a comment on this page

Many thanks,

from the pawsome dog blogger,


It’s summer – please keep us doggies cool

Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool (courtesy of Wembley Vet Clinic)

  • Fresh water and shade are the most important things to provide relief from the heat.
  • Have 2 or more water bowls around the house in case one is knocked over.
  • Try filling small plastic paddling pools with fresh water.  Some dogs love to have a dip in the heat of the day and cool off.
  • Fill soft drink bottles with water and freeze them overnight then put it in the dog kennel.
  • Dogs will love to lay on them or lick them to keep cool
  • Hair cuts can also help to keep you long haired pets cool.  shaved to get rid of their thick coats
  • Dogs and cats cant sweat through the skin – only the pads on the feet and dogs pant to cool down
  • Fill up an ice cream container with water and add a little Vegemite to flavour it.  Pop in 1-2 dog treats.  Freeze overnight and then give it to your dog in the middle of the day – they love to lick the ice and will help keep them occupied.
Koko cool drink at the beach

Koko cool drink at the beach

An embarassing problem for dogs


Oh No! My mate Digby has fleas! He gave the secret away when Mum and I saw him scratching. His back was itching, his tail was itching and his chubby tummy showed some scratch marks.

My Mum got straight on to it and dosed him with a “spot on” lotion, a bath, then some “kill the fleas” powder. She washed all his blanket and new green crocodile toy. Later she combed him with a tiny comb to check she had eliminated them all.

After a few days, he was OK again and he stopped itching.

Thank goodness I had been a good doggie and eaten my anti-flea tablets. I did not have any problems!

That is a real KoKo tale. Woofs from KoKo

Here is some info on fleas from Vet West

Solving a flea problem

Fleas are tiny dark brown parasitic insects that infest the coat and skin of pets. They have an amazing skill allowing them to jump up to 150 times their own length. Their remarkable jumping skills allow them to transit easily between hosts and the surrounding environment.

How do you tell if your pet has fleas?

One of the first signs of a flea infestation is that your pet will be scratching and seem quite irritated. On closer examination you could find adult fleas in the coat or at the base of the fur on the skin. You may even find flea dirt that looks like small black specks of grit, similar to finely ground pepper. This is actually digested dried blood.

How do pets get fleas?

Flea eggs can remain dormant for astonishingly long periods of time under a variety of conditions. They lay dormant in the garden, or in your carpet and furniture until they are able to hitch a ride. They jump great distances to find a host and travel on pets and even on people.

Why is it important to treat and prevent fleas?

Fleas are the number one cause of skin disease in pets and can cause problems ranging from simple itchiness to weeping sores, scaly skin and a strong smell. Some dogs are even allergic to flea bites (Flea Allergy Dermatitis), where one bite sets off a horrible reaction. Fleas also have the ability to transmit tapeworms in dogs and cats. Fleas also bite humans!

Why do you need to treat for fleas all year round?

Fleas are much easier to prevent than eliminate, so for the most effective method of flea control start before you see fleas. Fleas are not just a summer problem, heating used in winter provides a wonderful environment for flea development too.

Why do fleas spread so quickly?

Fleas breed at an enormous rate. The fleas you see on your dog represent only 5-10% of the fleas in the environment. The rest of the population is represented in the egg and larval stages found in your carpets, furniture, bedding and garden.

The lifecycle of a flea

5% of fleas live in the environment as an adult, 95 % of fleas live as eggs, larvae or pupae. For effective flea control, it is essential to break the life cycle in the environment.

  • Adult Fleas – jump onto your dog or cat, feed on its blood and then start laying eggs.
  • Eggs – one female lays up to 50 eggs per day, they drop off in carpets and bedding before hatching.
  • Larvae – the hatched eggs release larvae which move away from light, deeper into carpets and under furniture before developing into pupae. The larvae feed on organic debris and at this stage can consume tapeworm eggs, allowing them to become an intermediate host for the development of tapeworms.

This life cycle can take as little as 2-3 weeks but can last up to 6 months. To rid your household from fleas, you must break this cycle.

A well-designed program is necessary to maintain a flea-free environment, and prevention is definitely better than cure. There are many different flea products available today and the options can be confusing. Not all products are registered for use in young puppies and kittens and may be quite dangerous.

How do you protect your pet from fleas?

Smelly and potentially toxic chemicals are a thing of the past, now we can enjoy more recent innovations.

When undertaking flea control you have to consider the various stages of the lifecycle. In severe infestations, it is sometimes necessary to treat both the pet and the environment. However, due to the effectiveness of modern flea insecticides, treatment of your pet is often all that is needed. Here are some options:-

Products to rid fleas on your pet

  • Spot on treatments – very effective, once a month treatments. Some products include worming or heartworm treatment as well as flea treatment.
  • Flea shampoo – kills fleas on your pet at the time of the bath, but once rinsed off have no lasting effect on fleas.
  • Collars & Powders – are helpful, but not the most effective treatment

Control the environment

  • Vacuum the carpet 2-3 times a week to remove eggs and stimulate dormant fleaswash
  • Wash pet blankets weekly (in the washing machine) leave in the sun to dry, spray the house, kennels and yards with an adult flea killer (professional treatment recommended), fog the house to prevent larvae developing.
  • Leave in the sun to dryspray the house, kennels and yards with an adult flea killer (professional treatment recommended), fog the house to prevent larvae developing.
  • Spray the house, kennels and yards with an adult flea killer

Stay flealess ! KoKo