- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - He’s a high-flying athlete whose leaping ability rivals that of a young Michael Jordan.

And he has twice as many legs.

“This is something he’s always done,” said Howell resident Susanne Sparano of her Labrador retriever, Cooper, and his ability to leap after balls, flying discs and all manner of objects.

Three-year-old Cooper will be in Atlanta next week for an invitation-only contest that will pit him against the best of America’s high-flying canines, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (http://bit.ly/1l5aJD4 ).

He earned his invitation to the eastern regionals of the Purina ProPlan Incredible Dog Challenge through his performance in preliminary competitions.

But his story could have turned out much differently.

Sparano and her husband, Victor, already owned a Labrador when an acquaintance approached her about adopting Cooper.

The man, a U.S. Marine, was being deployed to Afghanistan and his wife and son were moving to a military base where the dog would be unwelcome.

Desperate, the man brought Cooper to the Staples store where Sparano works.

For the Marine, it was a last-ditch effort at finding Cooper a home before turning him over to a shelter.

For Sparano, it was love at first sight.

She “didn’t even think twice” about bringing him home with her.

Luckily, her husband and, more importantly, Remington, their then-2-year-old chocolate Lab, felt the same.

“I call him his big brother,” Sparano said. “He saw Remington and he just followed along.”

Remington will be also be in Atlanta, hoping to qualify for one of the last open spots in the April 4-5 event.

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