Dogs and Grudges

 Coops, has it already been seven years? Don’t let that cherubic face fool you…
My mom used to swear that Sophie was mad at her, doing things “on purpose” to upset her. No matter how much I told her that dogs aren’t like that,  they live in the moment- especially our Border collie mix, Sophie, who is one of the most gentle creatures I know. I had to eat my words when Cooper came into my life. Dan says that Cooper (“Coops”) is too smart for her own good, and I think I may have to agree. 

I found Coops in the alley behind our house in April of 2008 (we found out later that a litter of puppies had been dumped in the alley). There was a strong storm, and I decided at the last second to run by Mom’s apartment down the street to check on her and to take care of Sophie before I went to a concert at school. I headed down the alley when a tiny black something ran in front of my car and into the bushes. The weather was bad, and I had to know what the creature was- a cat? A small dog? I got out of the Bug as the rain began to fall harder and a tornado siren began to wail. “You have got to be kidding me!”, I said to myself. I walked over to the bushes and parted them to find a tiny shivering puppy staring back at me. I couldn’t leave it there, so I scooped it up and headed to Mom’s. Mom fell in love at first sight, giving me a towel to wrap the puppy in. I took it to school with me, sitting outside of the recital hall to listen to the performance as I held the puppy and talked to it- it stared into my eyes the whole time. The students all fell in love, some saying they wanted to take it and would check with their roommates. “That would be great- let me know,” I said with shrinking enthusiasm. 

By the end of the concert, I was in love. I called Dan and told him what had happened and that I needed to bring the puppy home. We already had a sweet, aging Doberman and two cats…we sort of had a deal after my dog Guinness died- we’d stick with the crew already in residence. I came in the back door and headed down the stairs to find Dan, looking at me with that, “uh-oh, here we go again” look. I unwrapped the puppy and said, “Honey, meet Cooper Gainey….can we keep him?” My sweet husband shook his head, took the puppy in his arms and said, “Of course, Honey.”

I had never had a puppy before, having always adopted mature dogs. I took the pup to our vet to find out that Cooper was a she and not a he (Guess I failed biology 101 that time). I “slept” on the couch with her for five days as she crawled all over me and I took her outside several times during the night. After that, she went into the crate, whimpering as if we were torturing her. It became apparent that Coops was a smart creature- she was quickly crate-trained, housebroken, and learned basic commands and the names of all her toys in a very short amount of time. Dan joked that she knew her toys’ names in seven different languages…until she ate through the dog room wall and the dining room wall (lead paint in our century-old home). Thankfully, she outgrew that stage while our house was still standing. 

 I first noticed her “scrubby” side (as Mom would say) when I gave her her first bath. Afterwards she wouldn’t look at me. For days. She would wiggle her whole body for Dan, coming right to him when he called…but would head the other way when I called her, or if I picked her up, she would turn her head away from me. I would try to guilt her out of it, “You little brat- remember me? The one who saved you during a storm and gave you a great home? The one who feeds you and picks up your poop?” Nothing mattered until two or three days passed, and then she was fine. 

We sailed along smoothly for several years with only minor grudge issues – until yesterday. Usually I head out for a walk at 5am, leaving the pups in bed with Dan. Yesterday I didn’t have to be at school as early, so I waited until it was light out, taking the girls out and feeding them before heading out. Coops saw what shoes I was wearing, saw me put on the jacket- the one that means dog walks, and she excitedly followed me to the back door (the dog door) and stared up at her leash on the hook. I told her to stay, and I headed out in the light rain. As I passed the sun porch on my way, she was there, staring at me. She looked…pissed off. I shook my head, laughing, and took my walk. 

When I got back, Coops put her ears down whenever I called her, she hurried away from me if I reached for her like I had beaten her (the dog who has had one of the best lives of any dog I’ve known). She wouldn’t look me in the eye. I looked at Dan, almost in tears- I love this dog- what had I done to her? Dan said, “It’s easy, Honey- you didn’t take her on your walk. She stood at the sunporch door staring after you and whining for the longest time. She’s mad at you.”  What? After all this time? I called her to me and apologized. She looked away. I told her she was beautiful. Nope. Explained that my back was still not good, and I couldn’t risk she and Sophie pulling on me before my recital on Thursday. This is what I got:

Until I said the magic words….”Coops- want a treat?”

We’re now the best of friends again….until the next time. Luckily I keep Milkbones stockpiled- I know the way to Coops’ heart- her stomach. We like to keep the peace around Chez Gainey…at all costs. 


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