Background: I adopted Cooper when he was about a year old from the Woodford Humane Society in Versailles, Kentucky. A cliché as it sounds, it was the last animal shelter I was going to stop at for the day. All day, I had been visiting animal shelters to adopt a dog but had not found “my dog.” Once at Woodford Humane Society, I walked past all the kennel before walking back to the first kennel, where Cooper sat watching behind a large plexiglass window. I began speaking with the receptionist when I looked back and saw Cooper looking at me – and then he did a head tilt. It was a special little moment that made me ask to see this dog. I asked if I could take him out to the yard to get to know him and of course while outside Cooper had way better things to do than stand with this new person. He was off running and sniffing, yet somehow I knew this was my dog. I brought him back to River Mountain Farm that day and he has been my shadow, stage five clinger, #1 best dog since then.
Cooper was a barn dog for about a year and a half in Kentucky and he LOVED his job. He would ride around on the gator feeding horses, alert us when anyone arrived, go on field trips when we were trailering horses, and just lay around all day living that barn dog life. Cooper was injured during his farm duties resulting in two hip surgeries but that did not slow Cooper down! He still uses all four legs but occasionally you will see him holding up his back right leg. Although Cooper loved his barn life, I decided to go back to school and work in downtown Lexington so we moved to an apartment. Cooper transitioned great and enjoyed his new days spent lounging by a window watching squirrels and long walks. Sometimes people ask if I feel bad having Cooper go from a farm dog to living in an apartment – and I say no. Cooper loves being with his family and my goal is to someday get him that house with a big yard.
THEN, suddenly after a year and a half of being a spoiled adopted dog child, Cooper met Ben. “Who is this new very loud and high energy dog, can we return him?” were probably Cooper’s thoughts after I adopted Ben – a one year old Black and Tan Coonhound.
Cooper adjusted to Ben after making sure that Ben knew that Cooper was the boss. Cooper now grooms his dirty coonhound brother nightly and they seem to really enjoy each other’s company. Soon after adopting Ben, I moved to Florida for another job at a horse farm. Cooper easily transitioned back to his barn dog life. He enjoyed hanging out with the farm hands, riding around in the truck/golf cart/gator/tractor, and helping with farm chores. As well as…napping…in the warm Florida sun.
After two years of living in Florida, I decided to move to Maine. I love New England and was excited to be moving closer to my family. Ben and Cooper again adjusted to apartment life filled with trips to the dog park, long walks, and lots of cuddles. However, before leaving Florida, Cooper was attacked by two large dogs. Although he was not physically injured – he still is mentally and emotionally scarred. It was a turning point and it has been a struggle since. Shortly after, Cooper became aggressive towards other dogs, this increased his anxiety of large men, and he always seemed to be “on guard” that a dog would get him. It definitely is a fear based aggression. Wanting Cooper to get help, I sent him away to a behavior rehab program in Maine where he excelled in the program. Of course the problem is not totally resolved, but we are working on it each day. For me it was a total change having two friendly dogs and now having one who is very fearful and therefore acts aggressive. However, we will begin another training program next week (mostly I need to be in a program to learn how to help him) and I am hopeful that it will help more.
Overall, Cooper is the most loyal and loving dog. My day one, #1 dog. I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Cooper and will continue following our stories each Wednesday on this blog and website! Next week I plan to do an introduction to Ben.