Update on Cooper, the Hambidge dog

November 9, 2009

Had I waited a bit longer to name Cooper, I might have called him Shadow.

This dog has been glued to my hip since the first day I fed him outside my studio at The Hambidge Center. Now that he’s living with me in upstate New York, he’s on my heels whenever I get up from the chair in my home office. And I mean every time I get up. Literally.


Cooper running in his new backyard.

You all offered so much positive feedback when I wrote about how I had adopted Cooper, a stray dog, during my writer’s residency in Georgia, that I figured I should give you an update. My big red dog is adjusting fine. He responds now to his new name. And he gets cuter by the day.

He has his issues, of course, like most rescued dogs. His new vet says he won’t let me out of his sight because he’s coping with a lot of changes, and I’m the only thing he can count on. And who knows what he went through before I adopted him.

The vet in Georgia had estimated Cooper’s age at seven to nine years, but our Albany vet put him between ten and eleven. He has a couple of health problems related to age, including arthritis in his back legs and a tumor on his testicle. Cooper was never fixed as a young pup, so you can guess what fun lies in store for him during the next few months! The vet wants to wait until he’s adjusted to his new environment to go ahead with the procedure, but says it should take care of the tumor.

Here’s my guess on Cooper’s past: He was an outdoor dog, maybe a farm dog, not often on a leash. He certainly didn’t spend much time inside a house. His favorite toy is a stick — nothin’ fancy. He’s afraid of our stairs, and refuses to climb them, which means I’ve been sleeping downstairs with him in our guest bedroom. He rarely barks, but when he does, it’s usually at men, so I’m thinking he had a mean man in his life somewhere along the line. (His bark is so coarse he sounds like a seal.) He also barks at trucks, so maybe he was dumped out of one? He’s housebroken (thank goodness), has a fabulous personality, and — this is unusual for a golden — doesn’t shed.

As my dad said recently, isn’t it amazing that a dog who probably was treated poorly — he was dumped, after all — could still be so sweet?

While Cooper is always looking for attention and hates to leave my side, in many ways I think he and I are perfect examples of — what’s that saying — people are like their dogs? Or the other way around?

I like to think I’m pretty laid back, and Cooper is, too. He doesn’t need to be on a leash to pee in the backyard or accompany me to the mailbox. I know he’ll stay by my side. Loud noises like the lawn mower don’t freak him out like they did our last dog. And he’s chill around most other dogs.

So yes, Cooper is adjusting. But how am I adjusting to Cooper?


Lexi & Cooper at home.

Little by little, I’m coming to grips with the fact that I’m now responsible for someone other than myself. This isn’t easy for me. As you know, I’m the kind of girl who leaves her job and her apartment to travel around the world. You can’t exactly bring a dog along for that ride.

But I’m slowly figuring out how Cooper fits into my life. Every morning, he sticks his wet nose up onto my mattress, checking to see if I’m awake. If I make the slightest movement, if I even sniffle, he starts wagging his tail and jumping around, as excited as a child on Christmas. “It’s a new day!” I imagine him saying. “Yay! Get up and enjoy this awesome day! So many fun things await you! What a great day!”

And you know what? It’s kinda nice to wake up to someone who’s super excited to see me, always looking forward to starting the day. Because of that wagging tail and those dog kisses, I get out of bed a little quicker. If Cooper thinks today is going to be fabulous, hey, maybe it will be.

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    11 Replies to “Update on Cooper, the Hambidge dog”

    • Megan Hill says:

      Nice story 🙂
      And hey–congrats on being interviewed over at Mira’s List!

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Thanks, Megan! Mira’s great. (For anyone else who’s interested, the interview’s here: http://tinyurl.com/y8pfhe4)

    • Karen Walker says:

      Hi Alexis,
      Cooper sounds like our dog, Buddy, who was also a rescue. So glad you took him home. They give so much more than it takes to give. Buddy is my shadow as well. I’ve never had a dog before. It’s wonderful. Enjoy!

    • Awww, what a great way to wake up! Cooper sounds like a sweetie. I’ve always wanted a dog, but I accidentally ended up with four cats, LOL. I just stick ’em in the camper and take them with me. 🙂

    • Peggy says:

      Glad Cooper’s doing so well. Kelly still follows me around at my heels. I recently was away just for a weekend, and she’s even clingier now. Isn’t it nice to be adored?!

    • jessiecarty says:

      One of my cats feels the need to follow me around the house all day. I don’t think he has ever gotten used to having someone in the house all day 🙂

    • I think it’s great that the two of you found each other! He looks very happy and content – and so do you.

    • Cate Bres says:

      Makes me want one! haha! Glad you two are doing well and great seeing you this weekend!

    • Andrea James says:

      Lexi this post made me remember so much of what I love about dogs! …I love how they get so excited…it makes me laugh every time.

      I can just imagine Cooper being all happy that you are awake. That is so much 100% pure love and happiness.

      We can learn so much from dogs.

    • I saw your 2009 list first thing this morning and when I saw the posting about Cooper I had to read it. I have three dogs so I am biased when I write this, but dogs rule. Yeah, they can be a pain and you can’t take off as often as you like, but the old cliche of unconditional love is true and there’s nothing like it.

      By adopting Cooper you gave yourself and him the best Christmas present in the whole world!

      Happy Holidays to you, Cooper, and your family.


    • I LOVE dog stories. And I LOVE that you loved enough to give him a home.

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