Mocha: Ambassador of the Species

I come in peace, mostly

I come in peace, mostly

Mocha was my first dog. After years of cat ownership, I knew I would have to do some heavy research in order to get it right. I began watching Dog Whisperer religiously and, like any good disciple, reading Cesar’s books. For balance, I picked up several other titles like Puppies for Dummies and Housetrain Your Dog Now.

One thing I knew for sure was that with all the homeless dogs out there, I certainly was not going to buy one from a breeder or pet shop. My brother had found Mocha’s mother, Chessie, abandoned in the middle of nowhere and brought her home. A few days later she had six pups, which explained why Chessie had been so fat and sluggish. Not in a position to care for seven dogs, my brother gave them to my father, who luckily had a large dog pen and dog house. Mocha was the first pup to find a home when we brought her to live with us at seven weeks. (For more on this story and info about the other dogs, visit the Free Chessie Labs site.)

Mocha's biological mom

Mocha's biological mom

Life with Mocha was a big adjustment for all of us. She cried incessantly when we crated her during our dinner. For the first week, she woke us up several times a night howling to beat the band. Her second night here, sleep-deprived and frustrated, I vowed that I was going to give her back to my dad and chalk up the whole thing as one big mistake. (I didn’t.) It turned out that she had diarrhea from the sudden change in diet & lifestyle. (It didn’t help that we were giving her treats every time she looked cute).  Housetraining didn’t go as smoothly as I had naively imagined it would. Although our living room looked like Dog Toys R’ Us had exploded, Mocha opted to gnaw the edges off the coffee table.

Sorry for being annoying

Sorry for being annoying

Despite all this, the good far outweighed the bad. Mocha’s adorable factor and award-winning guilt-trip face saved her butt on several occasions. She was sweet (mostly) and funny. Brian and I played Frisbee and soccer with her in the yard and took her for long walks almost every day. But there was something missing. When we let her out to roam in our fenced-in backyard, she would gallop about for a few minutes, munch on oily clumps of grass from the lawnmower deck (her favorite snack), and then flop dejectedly in the middle of the yard.

The lonesomest pup

The lonesomest pup

We finally realized that Mocha was lonely. No matter how much we played with her, we couldn’t make up for the lack of fellow canine in her life. She had gone from having five siblings and her mother to having two humans with full-time jobs. At Mocha’s second vaccine series, our vet, observing Mocha’s abundance of energy, casually suggested that we get a second dog to help tire her out. I laughed. “There is no way we can handle another dog right now. This one is plenty.” But I couldn’t get her comment out of my mind. That night, I half-jokingly mentioned it to Brian. His reaction was similar to mine. “No freakin’ way.”

What? You don't want another one?

What? You don't want another one?

But the vet had planted a seed, and Mocha’s moping around the back yard proved to be potent fertilizer. Suddenly one night, Brian shocked me by saying “Let’s get another dog.” We had both been giving it a lot of thought while pretending the idea was ludicrous, but the truth was that Mocha needed a playmate, and I knew of five more puppies who needed a home. I called my dad. “Dad, you’re not going to believe this, but Brian and I have decided to take Onyx.”

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