Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

A couple weeks ago, one of my dreams of the last six years or so came true: I adopted a puppy. Obviously, since I’ve been thinking about it for literally years, it’s not a decision that I took lightly. I’ve always been an animal lover and I did get spend a couple of years of my life with a lovely kitty but having a dog a special kind of commitment. There’s the obvious financial and time commitments but there’s the stuff like not being able to randomly sleepover at my boyfriend’s at the drop of a hat or take off for a day trip early in the morning and not come back until late at night without making arrangments. Plus, your “need for companionship [has to] outweigh [your] distaste for picking up shit.”

Expectations vs. Reality

I had a few things in mind when I decided to look for a dog. I knew I wanted a small dog (25 lbs or less) but not just as a companion, I also wanted one that was active and could keep up on activities like hiking and camping. At first I liked the idea of raising a new young puppy that hadn’t had a chance to pick up any bad habits yet but I also wasn’t too keen on going through crate- and housetraining from the very beginning or and dealing with the puppy destruction phase, so I decided to look for a dog that was around a year to a year and a half old.

Of course, I wanted to adopt but at local shelters, small dogs and puppies tend to get snatched up very quickly. Case in point, I saw a picture of an adorable Pekingese mix tweeted by Austin Pets Alive! one afternoon while I was at work. He was new to the program, so they hadn’t even had a chance to put him up on the proper website. I replied that I would come by to meet him when I got off work at 6 p.m. but by the time I got there just a few hours later, he was already adopted.

Many of the local rescue organizations that do have lots of small dogs have so many restrictions and rules for adoption, I worried that I would never be approved, even though I know myself to be a good, responsible pet owner. I liked to troll Craigslist ads on occasion to look at pups that needed homes but I didn’t want to support shady backyard breeders that managed to sneak by Craigslist’s policy (sorry, bro, $400 is not a “rehoming fee,” no matter how you slice it). On one such night, I was browsing and saw this guy:

I mean, he was a little on the young side of what I was looking for and I had totally planned for a new dog later rather than sooner but how could I not at least meet him? (Fatal mistake.) He was described in the ad as a stray 9- to 10-month old Basenji/Chihuahua mix being called “Romeo” (haaated it) so I wrote an e-mail to the guy who was fostering him and crossed my fingers. We exchanged a few messages back and forth and it seemed like it could be a good fit. I recruited to my boyfriend to go along with me to meet him, as his caretaker was named Bane and The Dark Knight Rises was still fresh in my mind. The visit went well, we learned a little more about him. He had been picked up as a stray running around out in Buda, TX. Bane had been taking care of him for almost a month but he wasn’t in a position to keep him. Bane had Romeo examined by a vet, treated for worms and given a clean bill of health but he was still in need of shots, neutering, basic preventative care, etc. so he was only looking to recoup the cost of the vet visit (a reasonable $100). And the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been a little over two weeks now and it’s been challenging but rewarding. As Alex said when I got him, when you get a rescue dog, it’s a psychological grab bag. Romeo is now called Cooper and through my (completely unscientific, based entirely on ear and face shape) research, I’ve decided that he’s probably more Rat Terrier than Chihuahua (if any). On the plus side, he is great with other dogs and people (even young children, so far), he was already crate-trained and mostly housetrained when I got him (he is great a letting me know when he needs to go out, which I’ve appreciated).

But in the “needs improvement” category, he is not without his quirks and bad habits. He seems to have some issues like being afraid of random inanimate objects (the punching bag in our backyard, trashcans, strollers, etc.) and also of moving cars, which makes walks and car rides somewhat difficult. And is also kind of a bummer because one of the main reasons I really wanted a dog was because of how much fun it would be to have one tag along with me to certain places. He also never seemed to learn proper bite inhibition so he can be very mouthy when he gets overly excited. Speaking of which, HE HAS SO MUCH ENERGY. I’ve had puppies in my life before but never a high energy breed/mix like Coop. I was definitely not prepared for wanting to play even after a long walk and zooming around the house for an hour. Now that he’s  neutered and gotten all his shots, I’m just waiting for all the testosterone to get out of his system him to be all healed up so I can start working with a dog trainer on those and other issues. But he’s really cute, has been great company and he does have the terrier intelligence (& stubbornness) so I haven’t killed him yet.

I don’t want to be That Girl who always talks about her dog or turn this into a dog blog so I made a Cooper-tumblr for pictures and other pup-related things so people can opt-in if they want: What Kind of Doggery is This? You can’t escape him if you follow me on Instagram (@sevenbrights), though, sorry/not sorry.

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