Coco the Wonderdog

It must be nice to be a dog at our house. She gets to sleep a lot. (Not unlike some other females in this house.) She loves to eat and play. (Not unlike a certain son of mine.) And someone makes sure she goes to the bathroom outside every day. (OK, I’m about one step away on the senility bridge from that experience.)

Coco is the best dog in the world, but not because we did something good. She was a rescue dog – a labra-bull according to the vet. The rescue home she went to included a fantastic couple who completely trained her before we met. And we discovered the world of the Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan has become our hero. Deana immediately read a couple of his books and we realized we did very poorly with our previous dogs. We do much better with Coco and work diligently to keep her trained and well-behaved. (Sometimes better than the kids.)

Coco is still my running partner. She is up bright and early every morning, and if I’m not already up, she acts as my personal alarm clock. She used to “nose” me, but we taught her that wasn’t allowed, so now she breathes my way with big heavy sighs if I’m unresponsive by 5:30 am. She does so well that she gets to run off leash most of the time. She’s been known to put herself between me and a snake when we’re out…which definately qualifies her as my hero. But, she doesn’t ever get aggresive or want to mess with any of the wolves, coyotes, bobcats or various other animals we’ve encountered. Although, if we’re out later in the morning, she is prone to want to play with any of the school kids waiting at the bus stop who even look like they might want her attention.

Doesn't every dog want to wear a sweatshirt with matching scarf?

Doesn't every dog want to wear a winter sweatshirt with matching scarf?

For a Texas dog, she sure did love the snow this winter. She deserves those fun moments because she gets all kinds of abuse in our home. Not the beating kind of abuse. The type that comes via a son who just loves her and wrestles, snuggles, hugs and generally crawls all over her. Plus, a daughter who loves to dress Coco up with people clothes. Yet, Coco takes it all with patience and a look that says, “And you let these people out without a leash?”

With spring fast returning, the birds are very active. This is her greatest weakness. She keeps an eye on every bird that even thinks of coming her way. A year ago she would have taken off chasing the birds, but now she’s content to look at me, then back at the bird, then at me with a “Can I go for it?” look. I let her know she can’t, and she keeps on her merry way content to make sure the bird doesn’t come too close. We had several episodes early on when she would take off after the birds. Then, one day we watched a large hawk come screaching down from up high into the field we were cutting across. The hawk swooped through the grass and came up with a good side rabbit in it’s claws. Coco stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me with shock. The look clearly communicated, “And you let me chase those things? Did you see what that winged thing just did? Those things are crazy!” I’m serious, the bird chasing stopped after that day.

Coco laying with JJ & cousin Zach during Christmas vacation. She likes to play and snuggle.

She is typically an obedient dog, but we’ve recently discovered a couple bad habits. She’s started chewing up the books of whomever she’s mad at. It’s almost always been something directly tied to the person who’s offended her. If Deana leaves her in the middle of the day, she’s gone to one of Deana’s books or even taken a project Deana is working on out of the printer or ripped up the printer paper (which is stored at her head level). She associates Deana with that printer and paper. Deana was really busy one week and gone a lot, so Coco went to her nightstand and tore apart the library book Deana had been reading. I had late nights and early meetings three days in a row, so I wasn’t running Coco before leaving the house. (Deana would bike Coco a couple miles after the kids left for school.) Still, Coco was unhappy with me and chewed up one of my books one day, and the Gaither magazine I was reading the next day. (And I had only gotten through two articles in the new issue – bad dog!) She doesn’t go after any of the 100s of books on shelves at her level, just whatever we happen to be reading at the time. This is being dealt with as unacceptable.

"See, I'm obeying the rules of not bothering anyone; but I'm staying here in the middle of the floor so I don't miss anything."

Her newest sneaky behavior we discovered by accident. I was going to work from my home office one day, and was sitting in the bedroom rocking chair reading. Deana left to run errands, and Coco must have forgotten I was still in the house. After about an hour, I walked quietly (not intentionally) into the living room and startled Coco – ON the COUCH! She is not, and has never been, allowed on any furniture. So our knowledge this has never been an issue. The look on her face was just as surprised as mine when I came around the corner. She froze a moment, then jumped off the couch, onto her floor pillow and laid down. She kept staring at me, and I’m sure she was thinking, “Do you think he noticed I was on the couch, or did I move quick enough that I fooled him?” A couple nights later I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen for a middle-of-the-night drink of water. I heard her leash jingle from the middle of the room and turned on the light. She was standing next to the couch trying to look innocent, with her sleeping blanket on the couch! I went over and felt it, and sure enough, her blanket and the couch were warm. She had been sleeping up there. I told Deana about the experience the next morning, so she checked her craft room. Dog hair on the sofa in front of the window in her upstairs work room. The door to the room is typically shut, but sometimes we find it open late in the day. We blame the kids, but I think Coco is able to get the handle pulled and opens the door so she can sit on the sofa and watch the street in front of our house when we’re not home. The family we got her from told us she was a smart dog. She plays the “dumb dog” role, but apparently gets away with more than we knew.

Deana saw that Cesar has a new book on the dog adolescent years. I guess we’ll be getting that book next. I read it and let you know what I learn…if Coco doesn’t get the book and eat it first.

She's still a spoiled dog. This is the bone JJ got her for Christmas. She worked it non-stop for three days until it was gone. (We really thought it would last longer!)

The Unexamined Life and All…

Posted: March 2, 2010 
Filed under: Coco the dog, Denton Family, Jeff, Pictures
Comments: 2 Comments


2 Responses to “Coco the Wonderdog”
  1. Michelle Ferrer says:

    James and I absolutely LOVED this story and all the photos. We are so happy that Coco has found such a wonderful family, and that she is so happy. Funny about the books, although I’m sure you don’t appreciate it. For us, it was shoes! She seemed to love MY shoes the best, wouldn’t you know! I love the photo of Coco being a pillow and sandwiched between the boys. What a character.

    Thank you so much for being kind to her and loving her. She’s one of a kind, that girl.

    Warmest regards,
    James & Michelle Ferrer, former foster parents of Coco

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Michelle! We’re so grateful for the work you and James did with Coco, and for the crash course in dog leadership. We have lots of other pictures I should send you sometime. Maybe I’ll get them online in a future blog post.

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