Cooper and Todd are two very talented pups who regularly showcase their skills at PAAW House; two very lovely dogs who we hope will be joining us as ambassadors for our PAAW Project, but that’s a story for another day, today we bring you their “dog stories” told by Mandi Hawkins Elgey.
Back in 1995 I rescued my first dog Pip the Bichon at the age of 7/8. He had the loveliest temperament and I fell in love with the Bichon breed. Pip had a great life and passed away in 2003, I was heartbroken, he certainly left paw prints on my heart.
In October 2013 a friend of a friend’s dog had 5 beautiful puppy Bichons. I felt it was the right time to jump back in and get another dog. I fell in love with the runt of the litter and I knew I wanted to give him a home. My husband said we could only have another dog if I named him after his favourite football player, Davey Cooper and so Cooper was named. A long wait and many weeks later he came to his forever home on Christmas Eve.
Cooper is the most placid, loving, gentle dog, he just loves humans. I thought about training him to be a therapy dog but Cooper has one downside, he can’t help licking people. Probably my fault for asking him for kisses all the time.
My Mum was sadly very ill with cancer for 4 years when Cooper came along and although he was a playful and sometimes a mischievous pup, when he was with my Mum he would be so calm and loving, just lying with her on the bed. I lost my Mum two years later and Cooper was my absolute rock, I really struggled with my mental health and he knew just when I needed him. When I needed a cuddle, when I needed to sit in silence he was by my side, my best friend at all times.
In August 2016 I saw a dog on a local animal sanctuary site that needed a home. He looked super cute and was just a big bundle of fur. He had some traits of a Bichon but I knew he was a mixed breed. I immediately got in contact and asked to go and meet him and take Cooper to see if they got on. I was so shocked when I got to the animal sanctuary. There was a tiny 6kg dog standing in front of me, nothing like the picture I first saw. The vets had neutered him and had to shave him as all that fur was matted badly. The microchip said he was from Romania but all details were false. There were quite a few cases at the time of puppies being brought to the U.K. to be sold, but once they passed a certain age they were dumped. This little dog probably at 6 months of age was dumped on a busy road near to London and was lucky to survive and be picked up by a dog warden. The rescue centre named him Cloud because of all the white fur but we renamed him Todd.
Why did we call him Todd? Apart from being “on his tod” on the street, my daughter is Disney obsessed and the characteristics of Tod the Fox, from The Fox and the Hound film fitted Todd to a tee. His best friend in the film is Copper so Cooper was close enough.
We made a couple of trips to Wanderers Haven Animal sanctuary to see Todd again. A home check to make sure I had 6ft fencing all around as this little bundle of trouble could hurdle the 4ft gate at the sanctuary, and a few more meetings with Cooper and Todd found his forever home with us.
Todd was so different to Cooper. He was naughty, he would bite if he was frightened, he didn’t want to be cuddled and didn’t have any training. He copied Cooper a lot, if Cooper went out for the toilet so did Todd, if Cooper sat on the grass Todd would be there next to him. Housetraining Todd was easy because Cooper was his role model.
I was so sure there was Bichon in Todd but needed a DNA test to find out. I took my life in my hands swabbing Todd’s mouth, we thought there might be some T-Rex in him. The results came back as Maltese / Bichon / Bolognese, no T-Rex!
I had taken Cooper to obedience training so I thought that was a good place to start with Todd. He bit the trainers and ended up having to wear a muzzle, but the trainers persevered, as did I and he soon got the hang of things and realised that there were some nice people in the world.
Todd quickly learned to trust me and would sit with me for a cuddle but only for short bursts. He loves sleeping in his crate, he is more than welcome on the bed but he likes the security of his den.
It wasn’t until early 2019 that I found Todd’s calling. He loved learning new things and he was desperate to please and get rewards, this is when we started trick training. Todd zoomed through his National Canine Trick Star awards and then went on to do the four levels of the American and Canadian Kennel Club Trick Awards, becoming an expert trick dog in a few short months. This training has made the bond between us even stronger and Cooper & Todd love doing tricks together too.
We are now entering the world of heelwork to music freestyle and I can’t wait to see what Todd can pull out the bag.
Todd is now such a happy, cuddly, loving dog, I’m so glad I found him and he found me. It was tough at the start but I would never give up on him. Rescue dogs certainly give you a greater sense of achievement knowing you’ve totally changed their lives and they reward you with such love and loyalty.
You can follow our journey on Instagram @Cooper_Todd_adventures.