Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday's Making a Difference

Cooper is an example of treating people the way he would like to be treated. This friend influences Brielle’s life every day from early in the morning until late at night. Cooper is one of Brielle’s best friends. He is our dog, but he is more than that. He is family.

Cooper's first night with us!
We found Cooper in the spring of 2005. We knew we wanted a Miniature Schnauzer for their size, coat (no shedding) and friendly demeanor, especially with children. At his breeders’ home, just south of Austin, Texas, we tried to pick which puppy should come home with us as we played on the floor with his brothers and sisters. They were all adorable puppies and special because they were all either white or “partis” (black and white like a panda bear) rather than the traditional gray.

We fell in love with a little girl parti that snuggled into Brielle’s lap and was so quiet and well mannered. Not Ashley. She fell in love and tried to convince us to get the one who was stirring up trouble playing and rough housing with the other puppies. Ashley’s little troublemaker came home with us and Cooper became part of our family.

Cooper is a little dog, only about 11 pounds. However, he’s got big dog syndrome. He thinks he can tangle with even the biggest dogs until he gets right up next to them. Then he embarrassingly rolls right over and submits like a little wimp. He’ll bark ferociously at visitors, but never jumps or bites. Two minutes later, he’s quiet and begging for pets.

Their morning play session!
Brielle’s day begins when Cooper trots into her room to make sure she is awake. Before we can start our homeschooling day, Brielle plays a quick round of tug-o-war and fetch with him. He follows us from room to room, as we do Brielle’s schoolwork and I get the housework done. Cooper is there waiting patiently on her bed at bedtime while I brush Brielle’s teeth and follows me out after I tuck her into bed. He spends the rest of the evening on my lap.

What a ruff life!

When he’s not stressing himself out by holding the sofa down, Cooper can be quite handy around the house. He cleans up the floor around Brielle’s side of the table always managing to score some little morsel of food Brielle drops. He patrols the house and barks away any intruders, especially squirrels or birds.

 When we return from an outing, Cooper is there to greet us at the door with little bounces and happy barks. Brielle often turns to me to interpret for her as she signs to him, “We’re home, Cooper!”  She will keep signing it over and over again until I speak aloud to him for her. I know dogs can follow hand commands and the signs of people who are deaf. However, our little dude has not seemed to master any of Brielle’s signs.

Wild animals seem to instinctively know when an animal is “lame” or hurt. We are sure Cooper knows that about Brielle. It was difficult to teach him at first, but he has learned to be submissive to her. He gives Brielle a little wider berth when she walks and is so patient when her pets and cuddles are not quite as calm and soft as he would like. He knows when she taps on top of his kennel to get in that he must obey her as well.

Brielle and Cooper are buddies. Although they don’t hang out a lot, they have fun together when they do. They understand one another without a lot of expectations, demands or preconceived discrimination.

One of my favorite sayings is: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” Brielle already is.

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