Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cozmo - All-American Dog

This is Cozmo.

Cozmo was born October 28th, 1998.

He wasn't a planned pup, just an 'oops' litter that honestly could not have turned out better for me. (Or him, for that matter)

I was pretty young when he was born - 13. A lot of his upbringing was handled by my parents, such as his house-breaking. He didn't have much in the way of training until just these past few years.

Cozmo and I grew up in Altus, Oklahoma. He was my buddy through high school, various relationships and major changes in my life. He was with me when I left home and moved in with my grandparents. He went with me to college when I borrowed a room from my then-boyfriend's best friend's parents. He was with me to my first apartment in Houston. He was with me when I got married to said boyfriend, when we packed ourselves into the truck and moved to Florida. He was with me when I bought my first house.

His upbringing wasn't perfect - my parents did not have an effectively fenced in yard and he escaped often, and so had to be chained when outside. His first visit to the veterinarian wasn't until he was five, when I scraped up enough money to take him and have him vaccinated and neutered. He has eaten the worst of dog foods - all the way down to Ol'Roy. He's been at the pound twice because he escaped. He's even been run over once.

A lot of the above I'm not proud of, and I don't have the energy to try to remember the excuses I came up with. The only reason I put that out there is to show everyone that I'm not perfect, but I have certainly learned from my mistakes, and my dog is so much better for it!

He is a spoiled house dog now. He sees his veterinarian twice yearly and stays on flea and heart worm medication all year round. He eats the best dog food I can afford. I began really training him - and how he's changed!

He's an angel on a leash, always comes when he's called. He did not get the best socialization when he was young, but I've worked on it and he is friendly towards other dogs - even in areas with hundreds of dogs.

The first time he amazed me was when I took him to a basic obedience class - I pronounced him dumb as a box of rocks. Then Box of Rocks dog sailed to the top of the class. He passed his Canine Good Citizen test on the first try, then aced the requirements to become a Therapy Dog.

I started training him in Rally Obedience and Agility - and he's even earned one title so far, Rally Novice.

He has continued to amaze me, and the older he gets the more I've learned to appreciate what a great little dog he is. He's charming, he's adorable, and he's probably the brightest Box of Rocks I've met!

When I tried training him previously, he shut down quickly. I was forceful and harsh - I yelled at him often, and jerked him by his leash or forced him into position. The end result was that he hated training, he stared at me blankly, and would often urinate out of fear. I quit trying to teach him and labeled him stupid.

Then I did more research years later, and tried again. I picked up a clicker and put aside my expectations and decided to see what this dog can do. This dog is SMART. He learns things in a few moments - he may not be perfect, but that's what proofing is for.

He also loves agility. He's still very energetic despite his age - and if he sees a jump, he's going to jump it.

For fun, I even taught him to surf. No, really.

He turns 13 this year, and hopefully there will be many more years to come with this little guy. He's a goofy goober of a dog, but he's my goofy goober.

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