Blog Every Day in May: Pets

“Tell us all about your pets, past and/or present.”

Cooper’s Story

Anyone who’s been anywhere near my blog of late will more than likely know that I am both dog mad, and a very proud new dog owner. I’ve wanted to own a dog for as long as I can remember….we had small pets like goldfish and hamsters when we were little, but because my parents always worked full time it wasn’t possible to add a pooch to our family. I never stopped hoping for a canine friend though, and I suppose I always knew that I’d be a dog owner one day.

We initially chose to foster a dog back in January….we were finally settled into our new home, which has a nice big garden and plenty of space inside too, and because we both now work from home we felt it was time. We managed to get permission in writing from our landlords and then set about getting our first pooch. We wanted to foster because we had wanted to ensure we could potentially go travelling for a few months in a few years….we knew that wouldn’t be fair to an adopted dog, or whoever ended up looking after it for that long, so thought it best to stay a little flexible. We’d met the wonderful gang from GRWE in town on a few occasions, and fallen in love with their hounds….and when we found out that we could foster for them, we felt that would be perfect.

Because lots of the animal rescue charities don’t have premises, they try to put dogs into foster homes once they’ve been rescued, so that they don’t have to go into kennels. It’s much better for the dogs, who are at less risk of illness and stress, but also for people potentially re-homing them, as they are much easier to monitor and get to know when in a home environment. Once we’d called GRWE they quickly arranged a home check and assessment to see that we were suitable fosterers, and that our home is secure, then in no time at all our first foster hound arrived!

Cooper, a small fawn lurcher, came over on a big boat from Ireland on the last Thursday in January. He’d been a stray over there and had his pelvis broken when he was hit by a car. Lucky for him he was rescued and treated, so that by the time he got over here he could walk pretty well and there was little evidence of his operation. He was much younger than we’d hoped for our first foster, at just under a year old, but he would more than likely have had to go into kennels if we’d not taken him. As with all GRWE rescue dogs, and indeed rescue dogs from almost anywhere, he was already neutered and fully vaccinated, and whilst fostered fully insure too (indeed most adopted dogs come with a month’s free pet insurance).

So, only a day after we knew to expect him, and only a week after we’d been accepted as fosterers, our local re-homing officer brought Cooper to stay with us. He was eager to say hello and get inside the house, and behaved himself right from the start, sitting on his new bed quietly. He sat there so primly, with his gorgeous doe eyes, and we were told that he was a whippet cross of some sort and wouldn’t get much bigger. I remember being so excited to see him and give him a place to stay, and rather like he was meant for us due to his name being the same as my all time favourite TV character (Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks!).

We were warned that he probably wouldn’t be with us for long, as he was so young and adorable, and we thought that would be for the best as it would ease us into fostering and not give us enough time to get attached! Well, how wrong we were. We loved having Cooper with us (enjoying cuddles on the sofa and lovely long walks), but by the Sunday a prospective family wanted to meet him, and we all went along to one of the GRWE walks nearby so that they could walk him and introduce him to their existing greyhound. They came back to our garden to let the dogs play without leads and muzzles (all rescue hounds in foster have to remain on leads and wear muzzles until they find their forever homes) and after a little while the family decided to take Cooper with them.

I completed all the paperwork and then Cooper was led away, looking over his shoulder as he went. Well, I was a mess. When Adam turned around after he closed the door, he found me a sobbing wreck! We had thought I’d be the one who found it easiest to say goodbye (I’ve never been very sentimental nor prone to missing anyone!) but I found it all too upsetting and decided that I couldn’t possibly foster, at least until we had our own forever dog.

So, after a lot of lengthy discussions, we decided that we would adopt a dog rather than foster. We put off ideas of travelling for months in favour of having nice long-ish holidays instead, and set about looking for our new family member. We went to nearby Wood Green animal shelter to meet some dogs, but none were just right….we also had to consider Adam’s Mum’s dogs as any dog we took would need to get on well with them. We looked and looked at various rescue websites, and eventually set up a meeting with two recently GRWE rescued greyhound girls on a Sunday.

However, on the Saturday morning, less than 24 hours before we were due to meet the girlies, I got a call from our re-homing officer to say that Cooper was being sent back and asking if we would take him back into foster! I couldn’t believe it! It felt like a sign, and everyone said that he was clearly meant to be ours! We thought very carefully about it, but decided to forgo meeting the girls and take Cooper back on a foster basis to begin with. He was coming back, through no fault of his own really, because the family’s existing greyhound hadn’t gotten on with him. They said that he wasn’t reading the signals when she didn’t want to play, so she would snap at him to get him to back off. As a result, we thought it best to see how he was with other dogs for a few weeks, then hopefully adopt him as our own. It was a bit of a luxury really to have this trial period, although it’s quite well known that dogs often behave much better in the first few weeks, then start showing their true colours once they are settled!

So, over the next week we got into a nice routine with Coops, taking him for nice long walks, introducing him to other dogs, and letting him get to know Adam’s Mum’s dogs Newton and Piper. He got on so incredibly well with everyone he met, that we couldn’t believe he’d been sent back! He’d not really picked up any commands, but we taught him to sit on command within a day and he was amazingly well behaved in every other way too. It wasn’t long before we’d decided that it really was meant to be, so I took him for his check up at the vet and signed him over to us as his new adoptive parents then and there!

Over the next few weeks Cooper learned a whole load of new commands, got to know Newton and Piper really well and even played with Newton too! We took him out on his training lead almost right away, and within a few days were confident enough in his recall that we were able to let him off his lead all together. So, within just a few weeks, I felt like we had the perfect dog!

Cooper has gone from strength to strength since, meeting people, children and other dogs politely, and learning more advanced commands and tricks to boot. He’s taken very nicely to his walks, and adores racing about carrying a ball or a stick. He loves his sofa time, sneaking onto a bed for a snooze, dozing in the sun, eating anything put in front of him (or left carelessly within his reach!) and collecting up his toys and odd belongings of ours to snuggle up with.

I just can’t believe how lucky we’ve been with him…..he really is the most amazing dog and so much a part of our family now. I knew I’d be a dog owner one day!

Ems x

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