Growing up our family dog was a Cocker Spaniel/Queensland Heeler mix named Brandy. She had reddish-brown hair, a white nose, and freckles. Our names were often mixed up because my Dad would yell out for Brandy but say Tracy instead or vice/versa. She was incredibly spirited and like most dogs knew the leader of the pack. I used to love watching my Dad do yard work and wait the 5 seconds to see her trot past the sliding glass door after him. After she crossed the rainbow bridge, we didn’t have another animal for quite a while. It wasn’t until I brought a rescue bunny home during high school that we had a four-legged friend back in the house.
Peanut educated our family on bunnies and there have been many rabbits since then. Over twenty years later, I have had a Netherland Dwarf rabbit named Niblet and as much as I also wanted a dog, I felt strongly about having a yard and of course they would have to have the right temperament to get along with a bunny.
For a couple of years I looked at adoptable dogs online, but never followed through because I either lived in an apartment or townhome and secondly, I was concerned about having a dog and a bunny. I read articles about how it was possible to have a dog and bunny, but I was still nervous; I thought if something goes wrong, the consequences would be terrible. One day at work a few of us started talking about animals and I voiced my concern about getting a dog since I have Niblet not knowing what would happen later that night.
The perfect dog would find me
It was early December and I was driving home close to 9 o’clock at night when I saw a tiny dog walking in my neighborhood. I immediately became concerned and started saying “ohhhhhhhhh” under my breath because I knew if I stopped I would be taking him home and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. I stopped my car, stared at him and started asking, “Am I opening the door?” Then I turned on my hazard lights and jumped out of the car. This tiny dog was muddy brown, but underneath somehow you knew he was white.
He jumped up in excitement and made a successful jump into my compact SUV. His hair was long, very matted and had twigs hanging from him. I was able to determine this rambunctious little fella was a boy and had no or collar or identification of any kind. Once I got back in my car and began to make the short drive home I wondered, “What have I done?” Although I knew I had done the right thing, I had to quickly figure out how to manage my household and take care of my new friend.
Once I got home, I immediately texted a friend asking for advice on what to feed him. He was very skinny and I knew he had to be hungry and thirsty. The only meal I had available for him was tuna and rice which he gobbled up pretty fast. Next on my agenda was to clean him up as much as possible. I didn’t think I could work miracles right away, but for his sake and mine, he needed a bath since I wasn’t sure how long he would be staying.
The little guy had a bath, but it barely scratched the surface. My bathtub quickly filled up with brown water and I carefully tried to rid his fur of twigs and leaves. I knew that I wasn’t going to see a white dog that night, but it was a start. Knowing I had to work, my Dad offered to take him to the groomers the next day.
After picking him up out of the tub to dry him off, I started to feel overwhelmed. I wrapped him up, sat down and took a moment to relax. When I took a breath in, I felt him take a deep breath and exhale. He then rested his chin on my shoulder, which made me realize the magnitude of what I had done. It brought tears to my eyes.
The first two nights he didn’t like sleeping in a room away from me. He whined, cried and even howled a few times. I eventually gave in and slept in the second bedroom where I set up camp for him. This was a sneak preview of what was to become our new routine. Not wanting to get too attached, I didn’t call him by a name and when I moved him into my room due to his crying, I put a blanket in the corner and made him sleep there. He tried to get in bed with me, but I didn’t want to start that.
Dog and bunny meet
I quickly found out he had no issues with bunny rabbits. When my Dad came to pick him for the groomers, he found the stinker sitting on my couch, when I had gated him in my other bedroom. He had obviously met Niblet on this adventure. When I got home, I held Niblet and verbally introduced them and told my bunny son that we were helping out a friend just like someone helped him once. I told the not yet named Cooper, “This is my son Niblet and in order for you to stay here, you have to be nice to him.” Although I felt I was doing the speech for me, I somehow felt like he understood. They must’ve because they co-exist just fine. They aren’t best friends, but they’ve had some sweet moments.
The groomer where my Dad took him was in a vet’s office so they were able to give him a rabies shot, clean him up and tell me he was a teacup poodle between 4 and 5 years old. He weighed only 6 lbs at the time.
For two weeks I posted found ads on Craigslist, all the local SPCA social media sites and filled out reports with county shelters. I only received one inquiry and it wasn’t a match because the couples missing dog was microchipped and this little guy wasn’t.
At lunch with my Dad one day, I felt so confused because I couldn’t imagine what had happened to this dog; he was as sweet as could be and was wandering around with no identification or microchip. My Dad and I went over different scenarios and I said, maybe I should take flyers to the nearby retirement village? He replied, “Tracy, you don’t need to do that, no one is looking for him. Someone didn’t want to care for him so they dropped him off and drove away.” His scenario hit me really hard, but I also knew he was right. After lunch, I decided the universe led Cooper down my street and he was mine. I went to the nearest pet store and loaded up on supplies including a sweater.
We had some growing pains in terms of potty training and getting settled into our routine as expected, but we also formed an amazing bond which made me wonder why I didn’t adopt a dog sooner. He sleeps up against my right leg, walks on me in the morning as if to say “get up Mom,” and he licks my face “good morning.” I love coming home to see him bounce around the house upon my arrival. Shortly after I made him mine, I had a horrible case of the flu and he never left my side.
My biggest concern was always my schedule, but I’m incredibly fortunate that my parents allow their home to be doggie daycare from time to time. He knows their house and gets excited when we pull into the driveway. My friends have embraced him with open arms and he soaks in the attention whenever we have visitors. He even sports his own band shirt, so my band has a mascot.
He overwhelms me with his sweetness, his devotion, and great personality. I’m thankful every day he wandered into my neighborhood and I don’t know what I would do without him.