Life Is Better Lived With A Dog

From day one, Cocoa traveled with me while I researched material for books. In the above photo, we are on the hot trail of a character for a novel. I’m a writer, an editor, and I love dabbling in photography. But I equally love dogs. There is just no other way to state it. I love their eyes, their paws, their toes, their ability to communicate what they are thinking and feeling (dogs do smile), and the joy they bring to so many. However, when Buffy my first Cocker Spaniel died in 2003, I vowed not to have another dog for a very long time. I wanted to travel more and falsely believed I would be able to do this better now that she was gone. I have found that many pet owners say the same thing after the loss of a beloved pet. They instantly recoil at the emotional pain caused by the death of a pet and say, “Never again!”

I managed to make it a couple of years but my determination came at a price. I eventually realized I was battling feelings of loneliness that only a dog could fill. I had lots of loving people in my life. But the halls in my heart and home were empty. A leash hung beside the back door as a reminder of happier days. The dog “toys” had been packed away, the furniture was perfectly arranged, and there was no real need to vacuum the floors two or three times a week. I was “dogless,” and I was supposed to celebrate my freedom from vet, grooming, and kennel bills, but I never did. I had been given a new lease on life. My mother would come for a visit and open the door proclaiming, “I’ll never have another dog. Your Dad and I can go any place at anytime and never feel tied down.” Sigh.

Finally, a friend had the courage to tell me the truth: “You need to get a dog before you go completely crazy!” She was right and that is when I began to search for Cocoa. I visited shelters where I was tempted over and over again by the big soft eyes of homeless mixed breeds that were mostly made up of Labrador Retrievers. I knew I could not handle their size when they were fully grown. So, at the advice of my vet, I turned my attention back to familiar ground—Cocker Spaniels—and this is where my search ended. I found Cocoa Joy (Cocoa because she is chocolate and Joy because from day one this is what she has been—a joy).

This is “supposed” to be her Web site, but it actually is a place where I can post and write about many of life’s experiences. We are in the process of adding a new section titled: Training Up Cocoa — www.cocoasmiles.com/category/training. It will be a place where I will post all kinds of dog stuff—from talk about dog exercise to food and toys and training. It also will be a place where I can post “Cocoa Moments” that are the result of the wonderful training she is receiving at Dog School 101 along with the many happy tails that come from being with family, neighbors, and friends. So, please check back often.—C.S.

One Response

  1. Becki Ulmer
    Becki Ulmer
    at ·

    Hi Angela, it’s your old friend Becki Ulmer, now living in Austin, TX! Hey, can I call you sometime to talk about my new projects? I would value your feedback so much. I have a series of 3 books I’m working on, and many more ideas. God is doing something awesome and I need some advice. Email me if you want and we can arrange a convenient time.

    Loved your voyage down the river. Glad you appreciate it. Due to drought, ours are drying up and it’s getting ugly around the river front in Austin.

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