Frightened and reactive to people and the other dogs he lived with, little Coco found himself in rescue at 7 years old.
A terrified little Chihuahua, Coco showed fear aggression to anyone who came anywhere near him and clearly needed some help if he was going to learn to trust the people around him.
At this stage it was imperative that Coco wasn’t overwhelmed by the number of different people handling him and caring for him, so he was restricted to a small number of carers, with Amy becoming his main companion.
Amy had only recently become a full time member of staff so she was able to allocate many of her extra hours to building a relationship with Coco. She recalls her early days with him:
“It took a long time to even get Coco out of his kennel.
Everything was at Coco’s speed with no pressure from me. When he was ready to come out of the kennel with me I would follow the same routine every time, so that he knew exactly what to expect – I’d present the harness, he would step in it, I would clip him in and then we would go and walk and chill out in the field.
Coco would do his own thing a lot of the time, and I would mind my own business whilst drinking a cup of tea.”
Amy’s bond with Coco grew stronger and as he started to trust her more and more, she was able to take him to different places in the car.
Amy had a friend with his own private field and she managed to get him to agree that she could take Coco for walks there. This was a peaceful place where they could both relax, in the knowledge that Coco wouldn’t come into contact with anyone else or anything that could frighten him.
Eventually Coco’s trust in Amy grew so strong that she was able to introduce him to her parent’s home. She ensured that her mum did exactly as she had to start with, ignoring Coco so that he didn’t feel threatened.
Very soon Coco was chilling out on the sofa in front of the TV, completely relaxed like any other dog in a home would be. This was the life that Amy knew he longed for.
Whilst these very small gentle steps would probably look to a bystander that Amy was doing very little, she was in fact giving Coco the space and time needed. She was gently letting him know that she was never going to ask anything from him or put him in a situation that scared him or caused him to react.
Despite his progress with Amy, finding the right home for Coco was a challenge. He was still a very frightened little dog and Amy had grown to love him so much that she began to wonder if she could give him his forever home.
The main problem being that Amy already had Cleo, an ex-rescue dog who was also fearful of new people. So Amy started to introduce the two dogs through daily walks, in the hope they would get along or even just tolerate each other. Amy remembers the introduction:
“The walks were fine when the dogs were at a distance to one another but the minute that space was reduced I could see Coco was scared and I didn’t want to push him further.
I had to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to rehome Coco myself. It wouldn’t have been fair on either dog.”
The hunt for Coco’s forever family continued and meanwhile, Amy remained his constant companion, making sure he received all the love, care, patience and attention he could want.
On Coco’s favourite days at the centre, he’d head out with Amy and they’d go and sit together at the local pond, where they’d watch the ducks as they ate their lunch together.
As the wait for Coco’s forever home went on, Amy noticed that Coco’s legs suddenly started to weaken. As each morning passed he became more unsteady on his feet, and it soon got to the point that he couldn’t get up and down the step to his kennel. Recognising that he was clearly in pain, Amy made a stressful visit to the vets with Coco.
As they tried to get to the bottom of his condition, Amy did her best to keep Coco comfortable and calm.
Eventually we were advised that Coco’s condition would not improve without surgery and would only become worse over time. However, it was also very apparent to the vet that Coco would not cope with the operation he’d need to get better.
The team met with the vet and after a lot of tearful discussions had to make the heart-breaking decision to put Coco to sleep and put an end to his pain.
Amy remembers their final goodbye:
“It was so hard to say goodbye. All I could hold onto was the knowledge that I had given Coco all my love and time whilst he was at NAWT and that his life had been enriched with positive experiences.
I held Coco in my arms and made sure he heard my voice so that he knew I was with him till the very end.”
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