Monday, November 28, 2011

Copper Top Dog

Hello, fellow animal lovers!

I trust you all had lovely Thanksgivings. We're still grateful about the fact that ten formerly homeless animals are now home for the holidays following last week's adoptions, and we hope to add many more to that list between now and the year's end!

Speaking of Home Fur the Holidays, don't miss this Saturday's benefit event, held at Play Dog Play! A bevy of fantastic local pet-themed vendors are signed up to sell their wares (including pet portrait sessions with Mountain Dog Photography, and dog photos with Santa by Northern Greyhound Adoptions!), and 25% of all earnings will be donated to HSCC. Heck, our volunteers are even rolling up their sleeves for a benefit dog wash. Come visit us at 668 Pine Street between 10 & 4 on Saturday.

And now, without further ado, the lucky kitties this week are: Juniper, Kanga, Buddha, Davey and Richard.

And the pooches: siblings Marley and Lua (Bichon-Yorkie mixes) each found new homes, as did Della (Pit bull) and Josie (Golden retriever).

And this week's featured adoptee? … Copper!

Copper is a miniature Beagle. Never heard of a mini Beagle? Neither had we! And yet when all 12 pounds of him arrived with the Colchester ACO (Animal Control Officer), we didn't know what else to call him.

We aged this long-earned wanderer at seven years old, and yet his size wasn't the only puppy-like thing about him. He had absolutely no manners. No training, no house-breaking, no sense of boundaries in a home. It quickly seemed evident to us that this dog may have been either kenneled or tied out most of his life. A seven-year-old dog with no house manners? How well would that bode for adoption?

But Copper was puppy-like in positive ways, too. He was insatiably curious, playful … and a total comedian. Staff chuckled at Copper's antics in his shelter kennel. Daintily lipping at his toys, he'd gently pick one up with just his front teeth--only to shake it mercilessly with a toothy snarl. His quirks in the dog yards had staff rolling with laughter. Copper just LOVED other dogs, and his favorite thing to do was launch his tiny body into the air, land on all four feet on another dog's back, and bounce off again as if leaping from a spring board. The other dog was always far too baffled by this behavior to get offended.

And so, despite the daily accidents in his kennel; his propensities to surf countertops, bolt out doors, and impolitely jump in greeting; his total lack of even basic formal training; Copper won the affections of staff and canine kennel mates alike. One dog, in particular, developed a fondness for Copper. And through their friendship, we gained an even deeper sense of Copper's informal talents.

Payton is a striking black and white Border-Collie mix who is so shy around strangers that it took her relinquisher six weeks to catch this stray girl in a have-a-heart trap, in order to bring her to us. Once here, Payton presented an aloof and skeptical demeanor that required an abundance of cheese and patience simply to coax her to take food from one's hand. Over a few weeks at the shelter, Payton did reach a level of comfort with staff that allowed us to pet her slowly and gently. But cuddly she was not. Payton has been very loathe to trust people.

Somehow, Copper got through to her. Perhaps the difficult backgrounds they came from allowed them to relate; perhaps they attracted each other as opposites often do. Whatever the case, the serious and reserved Payton ultimately fell for Copper the joker. And Peyton's love for him gave her the courage to grow.

First, she began to exhibit playfulness. Animal care and adoptions (ACA) staff person Cara loved to watch the pair play hide and seek in the yard. Payton would hide under the doghouse, and Copper, upon spotting her there, would run excited laps around the structure until she popped out and nipped his back legs out from underneath him.

Eventually, Payton's burgeoning boldness extended to people. ACA staffer Amanda could hardly contain herself one afternoon as she described a scene in which Payton was in the classroom meeting volunteers for the first time. Payton wanted absolutely nothing to do with these new people. Copper was brought into the room, and he characteristically jumped into a lap and began to cuddle. All of a sudden, Amanda watched in amazement as Payton trotted right over to a volunteer and climbed into his lap! Bingo!

From then on, whenever visitors wanted to meet Payton, Copper was brought along with her. As Copper greeted new people with friendliness and trust, Payton followed suit, casually sniffing hands she otherwise would have run from.

Last Tuesday, a woman came in to meet Copper. She was drawn to Copper's playfulness, as her 11-year-old son wanted a dog he could play ball with. Copper's less appealing traits were carefully explained to her: the fact that he would require lots of careful attention (and probably cleaning up after) as he acclimated to a life indoors. But all she could see were his positive qualities--and the rest just didn't matter. Copper went home the next day.

As happy as we are for Copper, the thought of Payton losing a friend does give sad pause. And yet, his good influence lives on. She now relies on other dogs to show her the way when greeting new guests. And a lot of the self-confidence Copper inspired in Payton has stuck permanently.

We were able to give a seven-year-old dog with no manners a second chance. Copper capitalized on it. And then helped a kennel mate with no confidence make the most of her second chance. Just goes to show that sometimes the best leaders come in the least assuming packages.

That's the good news this week!

Until the next round of successes,

Megan Stearns
Director, Development & Outreach


Carleen said...

Thats an amazing story, people should learn from Copper and show the less fortunate the way :) Hoping for a totally happy ending to this story :) Good Luck!!!

Usova said...

I am happy to report that after a bit of adjustment time, Copper is settling in nicely. He has so much love to share and we have been working with a trainer to try to help him gain the skills he needs to be a more well mannered dog. He truly is puppy like in so many ways and we are helping him live out his puppy years while giving him the support he needs to grow and learn new manners. I am also happy to report that he figured out how to use our dog door in only one day, with the help of our other dog, and only had a few accidents within the first week we got him. He has a large fenced in yard to play in and loves to run around and play games. My son is over the moon in love and it is pretty evident that Copper feels that same way about him.

We look forward to many wonderful years with Copper and are grateful to get the chance to give him his forever home.

Humane Society of Chittenden County said...

What a wonderful update on Copper! He is such a lucky dog to find a family so committed to his development and happiness. We adore the photo you shared of Copper and your son, and hope you all get to revel in that mutual love for a long time to come!