Team Coco: A Dog Worth the Wait
An adoption story
I waited for him. I adopted “Coco” when I was living in South Bend, Indiana back in 2017. I had just got my first full-time job, but I did not know anyone in the city. Growing up, my family always had dogs and dogs have always given me a sense of purpose. Being alone, with no friends or family, I was depressed. Somehow, I knew the cure; even if a dog could not solve all my problems, he would help.
Going into the humane society, I knew what I wanted. I wanted a small dog because I had a small apartment with a weight limit on pets. I also knew that I wanted a boy dog. It surprises me how many people prefer female dogs because I guess they assume they have a nice motherly instinct, but sometimes that leads to more fighting. My family always had boy dogs, so I knew that they also carried a real sweetness to them as much as any female dog.
But he was not there. My heart sunk as I walked through rows of dogs that I wish I could give a proper home but could not tend to their needs. Most of them were larger dogs.
“I’ll come back,” I thought to myself.
I did come back, once every week to peruse through the dogs. This time, I saw a Jack Russell terrier. He was small but he was not for me. Since I was a kid, I have researched dogs and I knew how high energy he would be at my apartment. As much as I wanted to say I had that energy level, my current job took up a lot of my energy.
Then, I saw another small dog. It was a "she" and the need for a dog had grown so strong that I was willing to take her despite my preference for male dogs. When I approached the front desk, they informed me she had three people in line waiting for her if the first person on the list was deemed unsuitable. It was unlikely I would ever get her.
Once again, I left the shelter empty-handed with a melancholy feeling on my heart.
I tried other local rescue groups besides the main county humane society but the small dogs I visited did not have the right temperament. There was a chihuahua, a breed I liked, but he was incredibly fearful. Usually, I am good at getting fearful cases to warm up to me after a few minutes, but these would not budge.
Then, I met him at the St. Joseph Humane Society. His name was Gizmo at the time. He was a long-haired chihuahua who came right up to the glass window to see me. His playmates kept playing in the background. They were all chihuahua and Jack Russel terriers. There were about four of them in their space. Hopeful, I approached the front desk.
He was available!
I asked if I could play with him in a small room designed for encounters. He seemed to want to play with some of the toys and approached me for affection. No shyness in him, that was the kind of chihuahua that I wanted. Judging from when he first approached me, he was not overly excited with barking either. Instantly, I knew that this was the one and I requested him.
As I waited for the shelter to review my application, I started preparing my house for a new dog. When I got the call that my application was approved, I was overjoyed and went to visit him immediately even though they told me it would take a few days before he was ready.
The man at the shelter who opened the cage for me said, “oh, looks like he is already taken.”
This time, I smiled and said, “I know, it’s by me, I just couldn’t wait to hug him.”
He smiled and said they’d miss him. I asked about his backstory.
That’s when I learned all the dogs with him had been at the same house and their owner was an elderly gentleman that passed away. None of his family wanted the dogs. Although it was sad, I felt better knowing he was most likely loved.
He still had some issues that I think stemmed from the old man’s age that I had to sort out with “Coco”.
I decided to name him “Coco”, which made people mistake him for a girl dog. But “Coco” was short for Conan. We watched Conan O’Brien together. I joked that most late-night hosts had a “Co” start to their name. He liked to snuggle while we watched my favorite of the hosts, Conan, which Tom Hanks started the nickname of “Coco” in Team Coco.
Coco went everywhere I could take him. He learned how to properly walk on a leash, a skill he lacked when I first got him. He learned from other dogs about the joys of chasing squirrels.
Coco was about three years old when I got him by the shelter’s estimates. I would only get three and a half years with him. One day, Coco started puking. He had been sick before and I had taken him in. Something in his face that morning, when he looked back at me when I turned to see where he was after leaving my bed where he slept, I knew it was serious.
I called up the emergency vet for a weekend visit. I went away hoping that it would maybe cost me under a thousand dollars to fix. An hour later, I got the call that there was a 50 percent shot he would make it because he had kidney failure. I made the painful decision after much talk, to put him down.
I still think of Coco every day, but I never regretted adopting him. His remains are cremated. I bought a special tree where his cremated remains are buried in the biodegradable
A little later, I put his cremated remains in a special biodegradable pot where a tree is now growing. It’s the same kind of tree as the one he loved to chase the squirrel up. When I see Coco's tree, much like the comedian I named him after, he still makes me smile.