So we got a dog

by Lorin Michel Sunday, October 28, 2012 7:06 PM

I have been missing having a dog for months, specifically missing having Maguire. After we lost him in March, our lives were less hectic. There was no more dog fur everywhere or on everything, or dog slobber on the floor. There were no trips to Petco for food and “hip cookies,” chewable treats packed with glucosamine and chondroitin for his stiff and arthritic hips. Suddenly there were no chew toys in the hospital, otherwise known as the top of the refrigerator, where all toys that had been ceremoniously pulled apart with their stuffing placed haphazardly on the floor around the now unstuffed and flat carcass went for surgical repair.

After we lost him, our lives were less full.

I have long been of the mind set that when you have something wonderful in your life, and you lose that something, you ultimately want it again. People who have long happy marriages and are completely in love with their spouse, and then lose that spouse to death, often have a strong desire to remarry again quickly. Some people dismiss those marriages and think that it’s disrespectful to the person who died. But I’ve always thought the opposite. If you are lucky enough to know the joy of a good, rewarding relationship, it’s actually a testament to the person who was lost to remarry again. Or so I’ve convinced myself.

It’s how I felt about having a dog. We had the world’s greatest dog and for 15 plus years he brought joy into our lives. When he was gone, the grief was overwhelming. It took me months before I could talk about him; longer still before I didn’t cry. Even now, as I think of that big beautiful bear, I am tearing up. I loved him so very much.

And it’s because of that love that I missed the presence of a dog in our home. Specifically, I missed Maguire’s presence, but he was never coming back. And I wanted, and yes needed, a dog in our lives. So a few weeks ago, I decided that it was getting close to time. I was feeling ready. I knew Kevin wouldn’t be quite there though, so we had to talk about it. Maguire was the love of his life and in his mind, no dog would ever be able to take his place. We talked and talked and ultimately he too came to realize that it would be OK. There will never be another Maguire, but there can be another dog who is wonderful and who brings us constant joy.

We went to the local shelter several times. We even went to another nearby shelter. We weren’t entirely sure what we wanted in terms of type but we figured we’d know when we found him or her. We did know that we wanted to adopt an adult dog, one that was at least 3. We wanted to give a dog who had been given up on a happy life. We wanted a mutt, again the type of dog a lot people don’t want. We didn’t want a puppy; everybody wants a puppy. We wanted a dog who needed to be rescued.

The shelters, sadly are filled with pit bulls and Chihuahuas, and some German shepherds. It’s fascinating and sad to think how many people had these dogs and essentially threw them away. We don’t particularly like small dogs, and pit bulls and German shepherds are a little too big. Then I started looking at some of the local rescue groups; I went on Petfinder. And there he was. A five-year old golden retriever mixed with some type of herding dog (we’re pretty sure it’s border collie). Red fur, floppy ears, and an eye infection. His name was Andy. Other than that, he was perfect. Or so we hoped.

I emailed the woman whose group (Labs and Buddies) had him. She’s an attorney in Westlake Village and we spent at least a week trying to arrange a time that would work for everyone. Finally, on Thursday late afternoon, we drove to Westlake and met this 50-pound furball self. He was nutty and unfocused, unsettled and completely oblivious to our presence. All we could do was laugh as he raced around the little grassy knoll.

We left that night, went to the Wineyard and talked about what to do. We were nervous, scared, excited, terrified. I sent a note to the rescue group that night: we wanted to be “Andy’s” forever home. On Friday late afternoon, that’s exactly what we became.

Andy became Cooper and Cooper became a Michel. For the first 24 hours, he remained unsettled and unsure; his stomach upset. He was afraid to sleep even though he was obviously exhausted. We went for a long walk on Saturday morning and a shorter one last night. Another short one this morning and then tonight, we’ll go for a longer one. Today he is markedly more calm, more comfortable in his new surroundings. As I write this, he’s sleeping on the floor here in the kitchen. I know he’s sleeping, not just because his eyes are closed (a dead giveaway I know) but because he’s dreaming. His front and back feet are racing, he’s growling. His hedgehog toy is beside him. He seems content.

We expect it to be several weeks before he knows that he’s home, before he finally understands that he’s not going anywhere. We know that it will take us a few weeks, too, to get re-acclimated to having four feet prancing on the floors. Already there is fur everywhere, and slobber; toys where for eight months there were none.

We will never forget our beloved Maguire. He will always live in our hearts. I think, and I hope, he would be pleased to know that it was because of him that we could adopt another. And so… we got another dog. Named Cooper.

Comments (3) -

10/28/2012 9:32:57 PM #

Cooper is about the same size as Nina. (Nina weighs in at 42 pounds now, but still runs back and forth as fast as any dog I have ever seen run.)

I've told Melissa that when she and I are ready that our late Buddie kitty would also want us to give another cat the life she was given. I think Maguire would approve of Cooper entirely!

How did he get his name?

Fred United States

10/28/2012 9:48:39 PM #

We went through so many name ideas. But he has reddish fur, very copper colored. We didn't like copper; it's boring. Then Kevin came up with Cooper. It seemed like a good fit. We were walking at the time and just as we said "Cooper," a mini-cooper came around the corner. Seemed like fate.

Hence, Cooper. He's a good boy. And he is incredibly fast, too. I think it's the herding dog in him.

Lorin United States

10/28/2012 11:10:27 PM #

Slobber... That sums it up. Love the kitchen picture of him giving in.... To a blissful , happy life. Yay!

Pam United States

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