West End Liquor's youngest employee, Cooper, is just 4 years old.

He's been knocking out three-hour shifts at the store every day since he was 7 weeks old, so it's no wonder so many people in town know his name.

His popularity was demonstrated recently when Cooper earned extra attention from locals after winning a contest put on by Outdoor News, a weekly newspaper for sportsmen throughout the state.

The contest, called Outdoor News Huntin' Buddy, was based on photo submissions. Of course, there were a few guidelines.

"There couldn't be people in it. That was the big thing," said West End Liquor owner Kip Earney, who was also Cooper's "photographer."

Aside from being Earney's employee, hunting companion and friend, Cooper is also his pet. Cooper is a chocolate Labrador retriever, making him an ideal candidate for the photo contest, which was meant to focus solely on man's best friend enjoying the great outdoors while hunting.

The picture Earney submitted shows the dog sitting with a white-fronted goose in his mouth and dozens of birds behind him in the background. It was taken while on an annual trip to Manitoba, Canada, last fall.

That photo is what made Cooper's name bigger than it already was. It was selected the winner out of dozens of entries, so Earney quickly put the news up on West End Liquor's Facebook page. Before long, comments and congratulations were coming in.

"I was really excited and I was very happy, because everybody knows him," Earney said of his dog.

Getting a shot of Cooper to submit to the contest was no trouble at all. In fact, Earney said he often sits with a camera in his lap when he goes out to hunt.

"I take a lot of pictures and I enjoy that part of hunting," he said.

Earney hunts ducks, geese and pheasants; although he admitted the type of game doesn't matter much to him.

"The reason I hunt is for the dog. The birds become kind of secondary," he said.

Whether Earney goes on hunting trips for himself or for Cooper, both of them are going to benefit from a single photo that came out of their last excursion.

By taking first place in the Outdoor News contest, Earney will receive an original painting by artist Ron Nelson of the winning photograph he entered.

Cooper also has a prize coming his way. The K-9's modeling skills have earned him a one-year supply of Eukanuba dog food.

Additionally, Cooper was the star of the latest issue of Outdoor News, taking up a large chunk of the front page with his contest-winning photo. His celebrity status is no doubt beginning to stretch far beyond the walls of West End Liquor.