Coco is a 2 year old boxer/pit bull mix. She is about 65 pounds and loves to play. Coco thinks she’s a lap dog and doesn’t realize her size. A home with no kids or with older kids would be best.
This has been Coco's last week with the HOPE program. In a few days, she will be settled into a foster home. While she still has much to learn, Coco has made great strides since arriving here. I'm sure someone will enjoy having this lovable oaf in their home for many years to come. I hope she's adopted soon.
Watching Coco play in the snow this weekend, you would have thought she was part polar bear. She was so excited that she had no idea what to do with herself. Immediately, she took off at a full sprint, racing in circles around the perimeter of the yard. Eventually, she burned off that first surge of energy and started to engage me in play. As I kicked up piles of snow, she would start to chase after it, only to stop in complete confusion when it fell and disappeared. Coco especially enjoyed trying to catch snowballs in mid-air. After an hour and a half, she was soaking wet and panting like she had just finished a marathon. But if it were up to her, I think we would have stayed outside all day to play.
When Coco arrived, her ears were in serious need of a thorough cleaning. She was very uncomfortable with the process at first, but gradually she started to relax. It must have brought her relief because, eventually, she began to climb into my lap and completely submit to the task at hand. Trimming her nails was an even bigger ordeal. The first two or three attempts were downright frightening. But as she grew to trust me more, she made things easier. Now she knows that she gets a nice, stinky hard boiled egg before I start and another one once I finish. It is still a work in progress, but it is a dramatic change from the first few attempts. Recently, we have been working on brushing her teeth. She is not too keen on having my fingers in her mouth. Plus she tries to eat all of the peanut butter toothpaste as soon as it is close enough. We will continue to work on it, and I am sure eventually she will get the hang of things.
Coco has an extreme fascination with the top bunk. Since no one sleeps there, it is used primarily for storage and is the only area that she cannot easily gain access to. In her mind, it is a magical land that food and treats come from. She is constantly trying to find a way to get up there. If I sit down to tie my shoes, she will climb onto my lap or back and try to use me as a ladder. She has figured out how to get just her front paws onto the upper ledge and peek over the top. Then she will try and jump up, but it always ends in failure. Coco hits the bottom of the top bunk every time and crashes to a heap on the floor. It never seems to faze her though. She truly thinks one day she is going to reach the summit.
For the most part, Coco is not very fond of the other dogs that come through the program. She gets very anxious around them and will lash out if they get too close to her. However, there have been a small group of dogs that she has had no problem with. Coco and Reggie get along well and will occasionally dance around and play. Denver was her absolute favorite. They would run and wrestle nonstop, with never a single moment of hostility between them. Our newest dog, Beau, seems to fall into this category as well. Coco went right up and started to lick his nose the day he arrived. She keeps trying to initiate play with him, but he truly has no idea how to do so. Hopefully, with time, he will figure it out, and she will have another buddy to play with.
There is always an assortment of toys in the yard for the dogs to play with. Normally, Coco ignores everything except for the rope toys. Yesterday, out of the blue, she became obsessed with a large plastic ball. It is about the size of a beach ball and made of a very rigid material. She was beside herself that she could not get her mouth around it and/or puncture it with her teeth. She spent an entire hour pushing it back and forth, angling her head different ways, trying to find a way to succeed. Every once in a while she would claw at it to see if that would help, but no matter how hard she tried, it was not going to happen. When it was time to go inside, she was covered in mud, with her tongue hanging out in exhaustion. I don't know what got into her, but she was one determined puppy.
While she remains a puppy at heart, there is no doubt that Coco is full-grown. She is completely oblivious to this fact and wants, more than anything, to be a lap dog. Her favorite spot is curled up next to me with her head and front paws in my lap. Lately, she has taken things a step further. Normally when I sit down, she will drape her front legs across my thigh, while her butt is still on the ground. The other day she assumed this position but kept trying to lift her rear leg up onto my other thigh. I took the hint and scooped up her rear legs so that she was fully sitting in my lap. All 70 pounds of her. She was happy with this arrangement. Coco placed her head on my shoulder and fell into a completely relaxed state.
There is no toy Coco enjoys more than her rope toy. She will occasionally play with stuffed animals or chew on a Nylabone, but bring out the rope and she goes bonkers. Since she shows such enthusiasm for this specific item, we have been working on retrieving the rope on command. Slowly, we have worked from throwing it into the yard where she will automatically chase and bring it back, to having her grab it from the top of her crate and bring it to me when we're inside. Coco is slowly getting a better grasp of the subject and I'm hoping to eventually move on to items like her leash or a brush. Having her retrieve the mail would be great, though I don't know how the letters would hold up to her perpetual slobber.
It's safe to say that Coco will eat just about anything you put in front of her. For a treat on Christmas Eve, I gave her a big bowl of spaghetti and chicken pieces. She dug right in, and made a mess like you wouldn't believe. There was pasta everywhere. It was on the wall and all over the floor. Somehow a piece even ended up in her ear. Luckily, she cleaned up after herself. There was not a single piece left behind when she finally walked away from her bowl.
The most recent storm caused icicles to form all around the edges of our building. Coco was fascinated with them. She would grab the icicles to break them off one by one, and prance around with a look of pure joy. After she had chewed them to pieces, she would run back and immediately grab another. Coco really seems to be loving the wintertime. Where she was fairly lethargic and lazy in the summer, now she is a ball full of energy who will play nonstop.
This past weekend we had our first dusting of snow. Coco reacted to it like a kid on Christmas morning. There was not much accumulation, but she made every possible attempt to bury her nose in it, kick it up in the air, and catch as many flakes as possible. Her leg showed absolutely no more signs of pain as she ran around with pure delight. When we returned outside that afternoon, the sun had melted it away and Coco was thoroughly confused. I can't wait to see her play in a sizable amount of snowfall.
These past few days, Coco has been nursing a sore back leg. She took a spill while playing/chasing her rope toy and tweaked a muscle. In order to let her heal up, we have been keeping the walking to a minimum. Even though she is only working on three good legs, Coco still wants to run and play at full speed. But once inside, she is ready to cuddle immediately. Coco has zero idea just how big she is. She truly thinks she can actually curl up and fit in my lap. Obviously, there is no chance of this ever happening, and eventually she settles in next to me, content to have just her head and front paws in my lap. Coco is perfectly content like this and will sit and have her ears scratched for hours on end. Soon, she'll be back to normal, ready to tear around the yard in her usual way.
Lately, there have been large groups of small birds gathering in our yard. Coco absolutely loves chasing them. They are too fast for her to ever catch, but she has yet to be deterred from trying. As she approaches, the whole group will fly away and rest on a nearby fence. A stand-off then ensues, until eventually Coco loses focus and moves onto something else. At that point, the birds will return to the grass and the hunt begins again. There is not even an attempt at sneakiness on Coco's part. She's just pure oaf, barreling around the yard. But even though she will never succeed in catching a single bird, the whole process makes her incredibly happy.
Out of nowhere, Coco has become obsessed with chasing the soccer ball. Until now, she had only shown interest in playing with her rope toy. Now, as soon as we head outside, she makes a beeline for the nearest soccer ball. At times, she can be a little hesitant to let go, preferring to chew the outside of it and shake it like crazy. But eventually she will come and drop it at my feet, back up, and sit down, waiting for me to kick it as far as possible. It has been a great new form of exercise for her, as she currently doesn't have any dogs to run and play with. We're continuing to work on her comfort with the other dogs, and hopefully she will find a new best buddy soon.
'Nimble' is not a word anyone would use to describe Coco. As we have been spending more time indoors lately, we have spent less time on leash manners and handling and more time on tricks. She was quick to grasp the shake command, but when we began to add in shaking with her other paw, we ran into a slight obstacle. Coco is so clumsy that if she picks up her left paw too quickly, she topples to the ground in a heap. 'Sitting pretty' has also offered some interesting challenges. She again loses all balance and typically ends up doing a back flop or keeling over onto her side. Luckily, she seems undeterred, and hopefully will start to show some improvement.
Coco took advantage of the recent warm afternoons to take a nice outdoor bath. She was starting to smell a little funky after a few days of playing outside in the rain. Watching her reaction to the hose is pure comedy. She tries her absolute hardest to drink every last drop of water possible. The shampoo also seems to be to her liking, as she kept turning around and licking it off of her back. But the funniest part may be the 'dance' she does after getting rinsed off. It's a combination of a full body shake, but she also bounces and jumps around like a mad woman. It all seems to be in good fun, as she has zero apprehension when approaching the bathing area.
Coco has been making the most of her last week with her buddy, Denver. She has always been a fan of tug-of-war, but has moved on from playing just with me to playing with Denver for hours on end. Coco takes one side of the rope and he immediately grabs the other. Sometimes, they will both lock down their legs and pull with all their might. Other times, they both hold one side and run back and forth together. Eventually one will win, prancing around joyfully for a moment, and then it's right back to another round. They both get visibly excited at the sight of one another and always play in an entirely friendly manner. It will be interesting to see who Coco picks as her new playmate once Denver leaves us.
Coco and Denver have developed a very strong bond over the last few weeks. Every morning, they go to the yard together, wrestling and chasing each other until they are completely spent. Initially, Coco was rather submissive, shying away when the play began to escalate. But lately she has grown much more confident and comfortable when with her buddy, Denver. Now she gets visibly excited at the sight of him, showing no anxiety at all. This is a big step for Coco, as she had shown a definite hesitancy toward other dogs from the day she arrived.
Coco has started to develop quite the reputation around the facility. She has been making her trips to other buildings more frequently and has quite a few admirers. Her friendly and lovable disposition makes her a hit with everyone she comes in contact with, though she still shows preference to anyone with food in their hands. Coco may have trimmed down since arriving, but she remains a glutton at heart. Her on-leash manners continue to show marked improvement. We have progressed to walking side-by-side without a leash while in the yard. She stays with me stride for stride, occasionally wandering a few feet away for a quick sniff, but returns to my side quickly on recall.
Coco had a chance to visit some of the other blocks this week, and she visited with inmates that she had never met before. She loved it! There was zero hesitancy or anxiety on her part. She approached everyone with a sweet and happy demeanor, excited to have anyone rub her belly or scratch her ears. I had been worried that being in a new environment might stress her out, but she handled it like a true pro. Hopefully, Coco will have a chance to go back and visit in the near future. We have continued to work on her basic commands, and she is making steady progress. She loves to play with the rope toy and has taken to grabbing it from the top of the crate and dropping it directly in front of me. When she flashes those big brown eyes, it is impossible to say no.
Coco has shown great improvement with leash manners. She is much more comfortable on the gentle leader and is starting to really grasp the concept of auto sit/heel. She still gets excited when approached by friends, but is getting better at not jumping up to give them a big hug. She has also become much more comfortable around the other HOPE dogs. Coco continues to bond primarily with Reggie and Denver, but she is coming around towards Brownie as well. She recently got a new rope toy and wants to play with it all the time. She has mastered the 'out' command, but still has boundless energy as soon as she sees the rope come out.
Coco took another trip to the baseball field this week and she had a blast. She ran from corner to corner, nonstop, for over an hour. As big as she is, she is definitely still a puppy at heart. We have been working on her ability to control her excitement around friends. Her first thought is to jump up to hug and kiss, but she has made great strides in approaching people in a much more controlled manner. Her anxiety towards the other dogs has also greatly diminished. With the exception of one dog, she is now able to spend time with the others in a completely non-reactive way. Reggie seems to have developed a crush on Coco and it is quite the sight watching them dance around each other.
This weekend, I took Coco out with me while I mowed the grass in our yard. On the walk out there, she was terrified by the mower, doing her best to run away from it, and nearly pulling me out of my shoes. I let her loose in the yard and began taking care of the task at hand. At first, she kept her distance but was watching very intently, trying to figure out what this contraption was. As time went on, she crept closer and closer, finally realizing that it was not out to get her. Towards the end, she was following right behind me, trying to catch the pieces of grass that were flying into the air. Coco continues to be more comfortable with the other dogs, and has been especially playful with Denver.
Coco has really started to come out of her shell. At first, she was friendly enough around humans, but rather disinterested. Around other dogs, she was a nervous wreck, constantly on guard. As she has acclimated to her new environment, Coco has slowly showed her true personality as a happy, loving dog. She now plays actively with Denver, Brownie, and especially Reggie. She took her first trip to the big field this week and she was in her element. She ran and explored, soaking up the new place and all of the new smells. She still came back to her handler after two or three calls. Coco has fully mastered the sit command and has improved remarkably at down and back up. She has struggled with shake, but I'm sure she will figure it out in due time.
Coco arrived on Friday and has been adjusting to her new environment positively. So far, she seems to be a happy, playful dog with a naturally sweet disposition. Initially, Coco had some anxiety when first meeting her new dog neighbors, but as she spends more time around them, she is becoming much more relaxed. Right now, she is very comfortable around Reggie and has started to warm up to Denver and Brownie. Coco is incredibly comfortable around all of the different humans she encounters. Though she is on the large side, she thinks she is still a puppy and will try to climb into your lap to curl up for a nap, even if only her head fits. As we spend more time together, I'm excited to see what Coco can accomplish during her stay here.