|Oops, an 8-year-old black Labrador, sits at attention and howls to Taps when he hears it playing on the Fort Verde State Park loudspeakers. VVN/Bill Helm|
|Oops, an 8-year-old black Labrador, sings along to “Taps” at the Fort Verde State Park. VVN/Bill Helm|
CAMP VERDE - He may not be able to carry a tune, but Oops waxes patriotic vocal chords nonetheless. And, usually, while sitting at attention.
Oops is the 8-year-old black Labrador that lives next to Fort Verde State Park. And Oops howls along when Taps is playing on the Fort Verde loudspeakers.
Sheila Stubler remembers the first time she heard Oops howl to Taps.
"It was about two years ago," said Stubler, park manager at Fort Verde. ""I was working on some reports. I looked outside and I saw Oops sitting up, howling to Taps.
"At first I thought, 'what's that noise?' Stubler said. "And where is it coming from?'
"Then, I just stood at attention, because it was Taps playing.
"Sometimes it is sobering," Stubler said, "because it's to Taps, a salute to fallen soldiers."
Stubler says it is rare when Oops howls to an audience. Oops is shy.
"If he sees someone watching him, he won't howl," said Don Kilby, Oops' owner. "But if you bring him treats, he's your friend for life."
Kilby said that he gave Oops his name because "he'll just run into you. He needs to stop. It's almost like he doesn't sleep well."
Oops, Kilby said, is not like most Labradors. "He doesn't like water," Kilby said. "He doesn't swim well. He's more of a hound dog, the way he howls."
Though Oops does not like to howl in front of others, Stubler says she will usually watch him, looking through the blinds from the Fort Verde office.
"If I'm still here at 6 p.m., I'll stand at attention and I'll listen to Oops," Stubler said.
Stubler said that Oops does not only howl along to Taps. "He also howls to Retreat," Stubler said. "But he generally likes the longer songs."
"I've heard him a million times," Kilby said. "I've always thought it was great. Taps is such a sad sounding song."