Cooper and Nico: How Two Rescue Dogs Changed One Woman's Life

Cooper and Nico the rescue dogs admire the sunset
Nico (left) and Cooper (right) enjoy the sunset.

Q: What motivated you to rescue your dogs as opposed to going through a breeder?

A: I definitely was interested in rescuing versus getting a dog through a breeder. I actually grew up with a dog from a breeder, a Brittany, and he's now 13 years old. Seamus … he's been wonderful. But I just started seeing an increase in the number of animals that are in need. Rescue was something highly motivating for me. A dog is a dog whether he comes from a breeder or comes from a terrible situation as a puppy. They grow their personalities, I think, based on the way you treat them and the amount of love that you give them.

With [Cooper and Nico], I feel like there's a different level of gratitude. I feel like they are very well-behaved puppies. I'm not sure if I just got lucky. Some people just tell me that I got really lucky with them. But I also believe that it's because they know that they maybe weren’t headed for such a good life. Their fate was already determined.

Q: What were they like when you first brought them home?

A: They were really nervous when I first got them. And slightly neurotic. Upon getting them — they came up on the puppy transport in Hartford, Conn. — I took them out of their crates, and they were really overwhelmed. Part of it, I think, was from the long trip they had just taken. They were on the transport for maybe 24 hours, you know, on and off. It seems like the transport service was very reputable.

That first night at our apartment, they seemed like they were scared of a lot of things. And they still are, even at a year old. They like to be very aware of their surroundings. I'm lucky enough to live in a condo facility that is dog-friendly and relatively quiet. So that's been a nice transition for them. But anytime something is moved around my apartment, Nico, the smaller one, he notices it right away. Or anytime we go over to my parents' house, he'll notice if something is different. If anything is different at all, he'll notice it and go on guard a little bit. But they've definitely calmed down quite a bit since I've had them.

Q: Have you taken them to a behaviorist or trainer?

A: I have a trainer that comes here once every couple of weeks. She really likes them, and she said to me, “You completely lucked out with these guys. I don't think you really even need me all that much. They're great.”

Cooper and Nico the rescue dogs snuggle on the porch
Nico (left) is full of energy and loves to run around. Cooper (right) is calmer and likes to stop and smell the flowers.

They are very eager to please and very loyal dogs. We’ve worked on some of the little things with them. Like Nico, he’s scared of cars. When cars go by, just feeding him treats and positively rewarding him helps. He's gotten better.

But the other one, Cooper, is a lot calmer in that sense. He's not really neurotic or anything. Neurotic is a strong word. I say that jokingly. But he is just much more of a dog’s dog, and he's kind of like the Poky Puppy. He likes to stop and sniff around and smell the flowers, and the other guy [Nico] is like little mister energy running around and wanting to play and just wanting to really run a lot. They've got their own little personalities. They play with each other all day. They sleep with each other at night. They really are like best friends.

Q: What do you love most about your dogs?

A: Honestly, just being able to wake up with them every morning or come home to them after a day at work or being away from them. It's one of the most gratifying experiences to have them there. I love being outdoors and being active, and they've allowed me (or forced me on some days) to even spend more time outside. They are man's best friend for a reason. For many reasons. Just having your love returned to you all the time is pretty amazing.

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