Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cooper: of English origin, meaning barrel maker



If you stick around long enough there are five things you will undeniably read about at least once if not multiple times. They are as follows: My kooky family, my upcoming wedding, my boy, my politics and my dog. Today you got lucky, its my dog.

Cooper is what could be considered a project dog, to say the least. He's old, he's moody, he's afraid of grass and water, he has no front teeth, and he is, with the exception of Guy, one of the best things that has happened to me by chance. I never expected to find my sort of a dog person fiance glued to the front of a kennel containing a smelly ratty old terrier mix that looked more like an abandoned mop head than a dog when we weren't even looking for a dog, but I did one warm day in June while stopping at the San Diego Animal Shelter to pick up my volunteer sweatshirt. I found Guy squatting down, attempting to make himself small in the eyes of this 15 pound dog which is not an easy feat for a man who stands at 6 feet 5 inches. Did I mention he was baby talking to this dog, a mildly unresponsive dog who's matted tail would occasionally wag across the cement floor which ,of course, only fueled Guy's efforts more. If you have ever been to an animal shelter you know that the noise in the dog kennels is nearly unbearable, full of excited dogs showing off to every passerby and my first question of course was then why doesn't this dog care? The truth of the matter, as I found out later, was that he had given up. In his nearly seven week stay at the shelter he had seen hundreds of pairs of feet pass him by and hundreds of kind hands had pressed up against the front of his kennel until they read his chart. " 9 and 1/2 years old, too old. Let's look for a puppy". Guy was set on taking this dog home. We did an interact. The woman who oversaw everything told us he was going to be the worse dog we ever had, he was going to pee on everything, he was going to snarl, he was going to chew and for the most part she was right. After having him pee on the floor too many times to count, we crate trained him. But in his defense Cooper never has, to this day, chewed on anything of importance although he has a gum fetish and will seek it out until he finds the prize. We adopted him. We paid $35 and we came back to pick him up the next day. He was newly neutered and came with a leash, a personalized dog tag, shots and licensing for a year. He had a name, Cooper, which derived from two placed Gary Cooper, the actor and Coop, a character from MegasXLR, and he had a family. Despite all his old man grumpiness at times he has turned out to be the best money-pit I have ever owned.

He's not the best behaved dog I've ever owned although he's learning and he wants to be that dog. Everyday he does something that makes me laugh, something that makes me angry and something that makes me stop a minute and think about the world and the idiosyncrasies created by so many things all mashed together. Today as I was taking him out for an early morning pee and walk about the complex he stopped to sniff a ray of sunshine peaking through the leaves onto the sidewalk as though it was a tangible thing. After licking it twice, apparently satisfied that he had either welcomed it to the neighborhood or vanquished its evil he wandered on looking for a proper place to pee and when he was finished with that he cantered back to the door where he took a seat upon the mat and waited for further instructions. Since that day at the shelter he has livened up quite a bit and people are often surprised to find that he is indeed an older dog at 10 and 1/2 years and not the new spirit of the puppy but the unbreakable and ever vigilant soul of a wise old man. In trying to help Cooper along in this world, Guy and I have both found out things about ourselves and learned to appreciate small moments of joy and relish in the unexpected, as they make getting out of bed in the morning worth all the while.



8 comments:

PERUGINA ART said...

What a wonderful thing you have done for an animal in need!

Thanks for dropping in to my blog and as a consequence I have come here for what I call...a "virtual cup of coffee" I take mine white no sugar!:)

I'm so happy for Cooper and for you.
Although my Chocky was not as old as Cooper when he was in need of a home...he was no longer appealing to those wanting a kitten...for he had outgrown that stage and was at the "Very Naughty Stage" so much so that his previous owners wanted to have him put down!

He has since settled and i believe we were bought together because my other cat Coco (who came to me as a stray and quite old) sent him to me when she passed a week later... I did not want to even see another cat let alone acquire one as i was distraught with grief!

Cooper was sent to you... and no doubt he will bring you much joy and lessons to be learnt.

Ask what purpose do these creatures have on the planet?... Set to wondering about this and you know as Coopers carers that they are meant for this purpose to teach us many lessons in life, love and laughter.

Wishing Cooper many many more years of much love and happy days which he deserves.

Rebecca said...

I don't like going to animal shelters because I want to take all the animals home with me!

PERUGINA ART said...

I do too... My Coco died unfortunately as a result from a cat that I rescued from a cat shelter...a long story!

I did look into all their(cats) little faces and it just tore my heart out having to walk away... but I was really happy to have saved one... he has since been adopted out and is living in my favourite part of the world... Blue Mountains NSW...I dearly hope he has a long and happy healthy life.

Rachel said...

I have a hard time not taking them home but that's one of the reason that I volunteer. I realize that I don't have to means to take all of them home but I do have the opportunity to volunteer my time to provide something they would otherwise go without and that something is human companionship.

PERUGINA ART said...

Hi Rachel, great to have this exchange with you.

That's a wonderful thing that you do... I am assuming you are volunteering your time to be with the dogs...

Here unfortunately i was horrified to learn that in the cat pound...they are only given enough food and water to survive the week and then they are put down... They catch all kind of diseases in that time but because they are not going to live past their due date... they don't do anything but care for them up until then.

The stray i rescued was taken there after i bought him to a shelter thinking that they were going to try and re-house him...little did I know that they only gave him a week... in that time I was furiously trying to find a home for him...as a result of that brief stay at the pound he caught cat flu... he recovered as I gave him the proper meds after rescuing him and having a cat group adopt him...unfortunately his interim stay with us...he passed it on to my Burmese Coco... (he was isolated in the house but as this is an air bourne virus it was passed on) I'm happy that he has a new family now... but shattered that my Coco was taken instead. Perhaps it was destiny! How things turn out... I don't know what they do with the dogs...i guess some are easier to re - home...cats get the short end of the deal here... dogs are given more time. It's great that you spend time with them on a volunteer basis ...you have a stronger ability than I! I would be a basket case.

Rachel said...

In San Diego county, the animals don't run out of time.They are well fed, always have access to water as needed and also have proper medical care. They have as long as it takes to get adopted into a home. I would never volunteer my time for an establishment that was not always working for the good of both the animals and the community as a whole. San Diego county has one of the highest survival rates for dogs and cats who enter the shelter and in 2005 they managed to get to a point where they no longer have to euthanize any adoptable animals because of their work with over one hundred private rescue groups.

PERUGINA ART said...

That's just fantastic!
It isn't quite the same situation here unfortunately.

Best of luck with everything!
Keep in touch.
It was nice talking to you.
:)

Grace said...

You're a wonderfully gifted writer and such a kind soul for adopting Cooper! Not many people would have been brave enough to take him home but I'm glad you did AND proved the shelter people wrong.

 
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