The Winding Path to Dog Ownership, Part V(a): Caramel and Cocoa

Caramel and Cocoa arrived at the beginning of January 2009.  They stayed exactly eight weeks. I have delayed writing this post because the trauma of these two dogs still leaves me…. shaky.

They were advertised on Marisa’s Petfinder site as “urgent” and “to be euthanized.”  They had been brought in together, and were described as completely submissive and very sweet.  Well, that was true… but they were still vilda chayas in other ways.


 Cocoa was a boxer/lab mix, while Caramel had some husky mixed with the lab.  The first night in the house, there was a sudden melee, with paws around the other’s neck and snapping teeth.  Completely freaked out, I just bellowed, “HEY!”, and by some miracle, they both dropped to the floor and left it.  Caramel let her dominate, and after that one time, there were no more fracas.  Then Caramel seemed unable to control her pee, but it turned out to be crystals in her urine, and antibiotics did the trick.  And for the first little while, we did grow attached.

However, other doggie beahvioural issues were not fixable with antibiotics.  Neither dog walked well on a leash. They both pulled mightily, and controlling both at once was impossible.  So not only did they have to be walked separately, but walking them was highly unpleasant experience. Now I would know how to correct that. Back then, at the end of my Masters and under tremendous pressure, I didn’t have the time or the energy to train wild dogs. So they never got walked, and were completely filled with pent-up energy all the time. It got so bad that Marisa found us a volunteer dog walker that came once a week. But clearly dogs need a good walk more than once a week.

Then there were the individual issues.  Cocoa, it turned out, was utterly and completely submissive to humans, but a terror to other dogs. On the Middle Child’s birthday, about a week after their arrival, we took the dogs and some sleds and went to the park. It was a total nightmare. The dogs barked at every other dog they saw, and Cocoa almost got into it with one we met while walking along. After that, we never took them anywhere again.

I think Caramel may have been decent with other dogs, if not for Cocoa’s bad example.  On the other hand, Cocoa obeyed, and Caramel didn’t.  One day Cocoa discovered she could leap the fence around the deck.  She raced into the neighbour’s yard, but when I bellowed, “COCOA! COME!”, she did. So Cocoa could probably have been let out on her own in the yard, but Caramel was prone to bolting and did not come when called. Had Caramel made the leap, we may never have seen her again.  Thus we couldn’t just let them out in the yard to pee without being leashed, which was a terrible nuisance. It meant parkas and boots just for a 30-second pee, not to mention the leash-pulling.  We put up a baby gate at the stairs, and our deck turned into their toilet.  And we always had to guard the door coming and going.  Caramel managed to get past us one Sunday, as we were leaving for an afternoon wedding.  We drove around for 15 minutes before we found her a block away, trotting down the street, very pleased with herself.  She wouldn’t come when called, but not being very bright, trapped herself by running up on someone’s front porch.  We managed to lasso her and get to the wedding on time.  At that point we started feeling enough was enough with these two creatures.  That, and the fact that I hadn’t slept since they’d arrived, as they both insisted in sleeping with me.

We asked Marisa that, if she couldn’t find a permanent home, perhaps she could find another foster family.  However, we felt that separating them would be a bad idea.  After the skirmish on the first night, we never had any trouble with them as a pair.  They spent most of their time curled up together on the couch or on my bed.  Cocoa had a very endearing habit of licking out Caramel’s ears.  In fact, we suspected a mother/daughter relationship; Caramel was fixed, but Cocoa was not.  We muddled along, marital bonds fraying, as The Spouse got more and more fed up with two large dogs knocking about befouling the porch.  They also managed to destroy the paper blinds in the living room.  But Marisa and I stuck to our guns: they went together, or not at all. 

Truth be told, Caramel was just a gentle idiot, and wonderful with the girls.  She wasn’t really bad, just stupid for a dog.  And Cocoa was just my dog.  She was more intelligent, and adored me. [All negative comments based on that statment will not be posted, so don’t even try.]  She stayed by my side at all times, and even, with great effort, managed to curl up in my lap on my office chair. Quite a feat for 50+ pound dog.  If we could have fixed the dog aggression, I might have considered keeping her.  However, The Great Guinea Pig Fiasco ended any chance Cocoa and Caramel had of staying with us, separately or together.

About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
This entry was posted in animal rescue, Dog behaviour, fostering, pets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Winding Path to Dog Ownership, Part V(a): Caramel and Cocoa

  1. Pingback: Surprise Visitor | The Dog Park

  2. Pingback: Nostalgia | The Dog Park

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s