Cooper the real-life mascot of Blue Dog Tavern has died

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The beloved real-life mascot of a favorite eatery on Grand Rapids' west side has passed away.

Cooper died late last week. If you've ever been to the Blue Dog Tavern on the West Side of Grand Rapids, you know his image.

A cartoon version of Cooper adorns almost everything inside: on stickers, coasters and even the sign out front. The dog has had a major presence at the tavern in the over five years it has been open.

“He was kind of a quirky dog but he was the best and very protective, very loving, great dog, great friend and we’ll miss him,” said Fred Mackraz, co-owner of Blue Dog Tavern and Cooper's dad.

When Mackraz and his business partners were looking for what to call their planned tavern, they went through many ideas. But eventually they decided on using Cooper's likeness.

"When my partner and I started looking for names we both wanted to incorporate dogs without making it a fully dog-themed place and we were going back and forth with ideas ... I sent in to him over email a picture of my dog, he said lets use that," Mackraz said.

The restaurant has always been an advocate for our favorite furry sidekicks. Cooper was a rescue dog, and the tavern continues to partner with the West Michigan Humane Society for monthly fundraising events.

Their next event is set to happen Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Blue Dog Tavern.

"I said to my wife, it's like childbirth. It's so painful you say right there that we’ll never do it again, but after times goes by, you want to. So I think that's how we feel about Cooper. So painful now you can’t imagine going through it again, but we’ll rescue another dog," Mackraz said.

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