Coco - the Loud Barking, Treat-Mongering Beggar of a Rescue Mutt We Proudly Call Ours
Oops, watch where you step!
PETS | FAMILY | COMPANIONSHIP | LOVE | DEVOTION
Coco - the Loud Barking, Treat-Mongering Beggar of a Rescue Mutt We Proudly Call Ours
Oops, watch where you step
Marriage and pets are very similar to one another. I say with supreme confidence that I am right. How do I know? Because, when I stated that to my wife, she first cautioned me (something about walking on thin ice), then asked the obvious question.
"How?" she asked.
So, I told her: "Pets and marriage are very much alike because they both take a lifelong commitment," I said it emphatically, using the best authoritative voice I could muster. I didn't want any doubt creeping into my words as they shot out of my mouth.
She thought about it for a moment, then nodded her agreement and said: "Yeah, I guess so."
Success! Having won a minor agreement from her meant I could put my plan into place. My first step would be to find a pet that she could live in harmony with. That ruled out cats right away. She was extremely allergic to cats. We had found that out the hard way.
My daughter had found a stray kitten at her school one day and, as fourth graders will do, brought it home begging us to let her keep it. At first, my wife said yes, figuring we could give it a shot and see how it goes.
Twenty minutes later, her eyes were all puffed up to where she could barely lift her eyelids, she began dry coughing for no apparent reason, and her nose was all red and dripping like a water faucet.
Five minutes after that, I loaded the kitty into the car for a short ride to our local pet store. I dropped it off with them, explaining the circumstances, and they accepted responsibility for it. So, no cats for us!
Next, I turned to dogs. We had owned a dog for 12 years once during our marriage. It was a Lhasa Apso we named Honcho. He was a well-behaved fur ball, but he was also high maintenance. Hair always needed to be trimmed, he needed to be bathed after six or seven days, otherwise, he would stink. He developed a case of ear mites we had to treat as well.
Ultimately, Honcho lost his vision and hearing and was diagnosed with a bad case of arthritis. One day short of his 13th birthday, he didn't wake up. By that time our kids were teens, so we decided to hold off on getting any more pets for a while.
That was a sound decision for us, too. Soon after that, we became empty-nesters. We needed - and had earned - a little peace and quiet around the house right then. We had been highly involved with our kids over the last 20-some odd years and now it was time to indulge ourselves a bit.
Our lives started changing again in 2005. Our first grandchild was born, and we had some serious cuddling to do. With the "baby" ice having been broken, the next 6 years flew by, and the stork delivered four more grandbabies to us.
Soon, the subject of pets was being bandied about by the grandkids. Their parents guided those decisions, so we remained neutral but supportive. Meanwhile, they had "temporary visitors" around the house.
Parakeets are too noisy and messy, the grandkids decided. So, they moved on to gerbils, then hamsters, then a guinea pig, and a turtle. The grandkids won with the turtle. But that turned out to be short-lived because it turns out turtles know how to climb out of pens and disappear somewhere in the yard.
That meant our kids - and their kids - were suddenly back to square one in their search for a pet. One of our grandsons told his parents about a cute little puppy he had seen at a friend's house and now he was pressing them for a dog.
Their searches for the right kind of dog ended up fruitless. That was when I recommended that they look for a rescue dog. It seemed every dog our grandsons looked at, they wanted, so some rules had to be established.
While browsing on the internet on Pet Rescue sites, I happened to see the cutest little puppy ever and showed it to my daughter. She said they might consider it, but she wanted to first see the pup and let her boys hold it and play with it to see if they might want it.
So as not to build up the boys' hopes, then have them dashed again if they didn't like the pup, I decided to go to the rescue shelter to see if I could get permission to bring the pup home but also make arrangements to bring it back if things didn't work out. Once I arrived at the shelter, I never got that far.
When they showed me the puppy, it was love at first sight. She was perfect! She was six months old, and they told me she was potty-trained, micro-chipped, and had been "fixed," as they put it. Perfect! Her name was Cricket, which I thought odd for such a beautiful puppy.
It was Veterans' Day, November 11th, 2015. I made a decision right then and there to bring her home, so I paid them, got a bunch of papers that showed her microchip number and her date of birth, April 29th. I thought it strange that they hadn't given me any Doctor's notes or medical records, but I was so excited about the puppy that I didn't think to ask for those.
My trip to this particular shelter was a bit of a ride, 45 miles away from home. So, I used the time to come up with a new name for her. "Cricket" just didn't seem to describe her playful attitude or her deep brown, almost black coat of glistening fur.
As long as she was outside, in the sunshine, she appeared to be a dark black. But, once she came inside, she looked all charcoal brown, except for her paws. All four of her feet had white patches that looked almost like socks. She was a cross-bred Daschund with a bit of Schnauzer mixed in that was visible just behind both ears and on her butt.
I settled on renaming her Coco. It just seemed to perfectly fit her looks and disposition. She was rambunctious and loved giving kisses. She kept trying to lick my face, hands, and arms at the shelter.
The next problem I had to solve rather quickly was how I was going to explain to my grandsons that I bought her for myself. My explanation was made easier by the fact that they lived right next door to me. So, when Coco was out in the yard, they could play with her to their hearts' content.
One of the reasons I decided to keep her was that my daughter had put a strict stipulation on the boys - no dogs that shed hair. Coco was a short-haired shedder, for sure. I knew that from my experience with her at the shelter. When I had picked her up to cuddle her, I held her close against my chest. So, when I put her down again, I noticed short hair all over my shirt.
Now that I had come up with what I was going to tell my grandsons, I still had to figure out what I was going to tell my wife because I hadn't mentioned anything about possibly getting a pet again.
Ingenuity came to my rescue once again when I thought, "I'll just tell her it's Veterans' Day and I need a service dog." I thought it was a cool, suave way to explain purchasing a dog for myself. My wife? Eh, well, let's just say "not so much," and leave it at that.
It helped that she and the boys were all together, along with my daughter and son-in-law, when I walked in with the pup. They were all very surprised and, naturally, the boys started playing with her on the floor.
Then and there, my wife knew she was defeated, and she barely put up any objections at all moving forward. Staying true to her practical side, she wanted to know where the pup would sleep, what she would eat, had she been fixed - all the normal things that go along with being responsible for a pet.
One thing you should know about my wife is that she's not a "pet" person. I guess that goes back to her first exposure to having a cat in our house. Frankly, I can't blame her either, as I remember how she looked and felt the 20 minutes or so that we owned a cat.
I knew going in that I was going to be the "Super-duper pooper-scooper." I would be the one to bathe her and do all the shopping for her. I also am responsible for trimming her nails and paws.
It turns out hair grows around and under her paws (something I hadn't known) so they need to be trimmed so that her paws always touch the ground. Otherwise, she has no way to stop her forward motion on hardwood floors, which is quite funny to see live and in person.
Now that I had everyone on board with me owning a dog, I left Coco with the boys so I could shop for the necessary supplies. She needed food, a bed, a leash and collar, shampoo, and treats.
While I was at the store, my wife called my cellphone, wanting me to pick up something else, sanitary diapers. As soon as I heard those words, I knew something bad must've happened. Sure enough, my wife told me that Coco hadn't "been fixed" like I was led to believe.
What's more, not only wasn't she fixed, but she also wasn't potty-trained, either. So, needless to say, I threw some doggie diapers and poop bags, along with potty pads, into the shopping cart, went to check-out, paid, and left - -not an ideal way to start a new long-term relationship with my pup, but it is what it is. At least she was microchipped.
As soon as I unloaded all the supplies back at the house, I headed inside and started looking for a veterinarian. We had always used one about 10 miles from us, but now they were closed and no longer available.
My son owns two German Shepherds and a large Goldendoodle, and he recommended a couple of names for me to check out. It turns out I knew one of them and chose him to see Coco. The soonest he could get her scheduled for spaying was the next week, so I set the appointment for his first available opening.
After hanging up with the vet, I still had a mess to clean up. So, I tackled that as quickly as I could, realizing my wife was, Uhm, let's say "not pleased" (my words, not hers) with the situation. I knew she was vexed, but I also knew it was simply a part of the process of owning a pet.
"Accidents happen, I'll take care of it," was enough to placate her. She knew that got her off the hook from ever being the cleaner-upper, and that was fine with me.
Coco and I have hit it off since the very first day. In fact, you could say she is my shadow, and you wouldn't be that far off. She follows me everywhere I go, her little nails clicking on the floor as she tows along behind me.
She's fast, too. As soon as I sit down in any chair, she jumps up on my lap and will stay there until I force her to get down. She isn't maniacal about it; she just loves being pet. I have to admit, I enjoy petting her, even if I do collect loose hairs all over my clothes. That goes with the territory of owning a dog.
I have been able to teach her some of the easier commands, stuff like Sit! Stay! Stop! She listens very well and seems to understand when I talk to her like she's human. She knows what I mean when I tell her to go get her toys. She'll trot off and come prancing back just out of my reach.
When I try to grab the toy, she takes off again, playfully expecting me to "catch" her. I will usually play along for the first couple of times, but when she drops the toy too far for me to grab it before she does, that's usually when I'll give up because she's much faster than my old reflexes.
Still, through silly games like this and walking down the road to the mailbox with me, she gets her regular, good exercise each day, and I do as well. We go well together. She weighs about 15 pounds and won't get any bigger, sometimes slipping down to 12 pounds because she won't eat her dog food and if she doesn't, I know not to give her treats.
Our relationship with Coco is now nearly 7 years and we couldn't be happier. She has filled a void in our lives since we lost Honcho. She is just as sweet and undemanding as I had hoped for, and everyone, the kids and the grandkids have all gotten very attached to her.
I will say this, though: I thought it would take her a great deal longer to train me than it actually took. I guess I'm a fast learner!
Thanks for reading this!