Monday, June 20, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - The Story of Bette Cocker

I was at Lisa Ann’s Grooming picking up my sweet WoodBoy, who incidentally loves his occasional spa day. Lisa greeted me with: “you know there’s a black cocker spaniel at the animal shelter, don’t you?” Of course I could have gone all day without hearing those words. She also mentioned that the dog was badly matted and volunteered to groom her for free if ‘someone’ would bring her in. Well, obviously that someone would be me. As I left the salon, Lisa matter-of-factly said: “you’re going down there, aren’t you?” as I nodded my head and left. She knows my connection to the cocker breed.

I put Woody in the car and drove directly to the shelter. Sitting all alone in a huge cage was an elderly girl, overgrown and matted with an uncropped, tangled tail. She looked big but when I touched her I realized it was mostly hair that made her look so large. The first thing I noticed was how happy she appeared with a perpetual smile on her face, and in the mist of the dog barking chaos surrounding her, she didn’t utter a sound.

Apparently she had been picked up in the parking lot of the Down East Saloon and had been at the shelter for a few weeks. There were no calls to claim her even after the daily announcements on public radio. She was now up for adoption but sadly there had been little interest because of her age. Enough said, I paid the adoption fee, put a leash on her and lead her to my VW Beetle. She walked perfect on lead with her head held high, tail swishing back and forth, and still the smile. I couldn’t look at her without smiling; it was contagious. She jumped in the car and sat in the passenger’s seat like she had done it all before.

She needed a name. I hardly knew her but after spending only a few minutes with her, one came to me. She looked like a Bette and when I added Cocker, it was perfect. She immediately accepted that as her new title. With that problem solved we drove directly back to Lisa Ann’s for Bette’s complimentary spa treatment. Oh, and what a treatment it was – she was transformed into a black beauty.

When I saw her I was flabbergasted – OMG, she looked exactly like a cocker spaniel with a feathered plume tail that floated in the wind. She was a bit overweight, but still priceless. I gathered her up for the car ride home to meet the gang at TBTB Dog Camp. I had already given myself the “talk” before I picked her up. I currently have five spaniels and a basset hound of my own so keeping Bette was not an option. My plan was to find her the perfect home and foster her until her human was located.

All the dogs at TBTB loved Bette. She was well socialized, always happy, mellow, completely trained and just the perfect girl. I couldn’t find a thing to change about her behavior. She was a joy – if I felt sad, worried or down all I had to do was look at that big smile to feel better. She spent the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season at TBTB and had a permanent spot on the leather couch in front of the fire. In the meantime I continued to search for her forever home.

A friend of mine had lost her beloved dog in a snow blizzard just a few weeks earlier. Cindy also has a black lab named SusieQ and was eventually going to get another dog. Two dogs are always better than one. I told her about Bette but she wasn’t ready; the accident had been recent and her emotions were still too raw. After a few weeks we agreed to meet at the beach to see if Bette and SusieQ got along – that was a no brainer for me as Bette got along with all living things! After a walk of meeting and greeting, butt sniffing and tail wagging, Cindy decided to take Bette home for a sleepover to see how it went. Well that was all it took. After six-weeks at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp and who knows how many at the shelter, Bette had finally found ‘home’ complete with a big sister!

Bette has since become Bette Boo Cocker and is still smiling. Cindy and SusieQ adore her, and she is my Goddaughter and the Godsister of the TBTB resident pack. We get to visit her and she and SusieQ stay with us when Cindy’s out of town. Bette loves TBTB Dog Camp and all the dogs here, assuming her old spot on the couch when she walks in. But, she is always ecstatic to see her mom, and without hesitation is ready to go home where she and SusieQ share a doggie bed complete with TBTB snug rugs.

By doing some investigative sleuth work I was able to determine that Bette’s first name was Willow. She was given to a family when her original mom got a job in the states and could not take her with and, she is 12 years old. After a couple years with the new family she apparently wandered off, got lost and they never tried to find her.

During her long ordeal at the shelter, Bette never lost her love for life, her trust in humans, or her positive attitude. She has now found her forever home and her smile is bigger than ever! She looks great, feels good after losing a few pounds and is content to live in the moment. In fact, Bette Cocker is happy to just “be.” Thank you Cindy and SusieQ for opening you heart and home up to this beautiful older girl.

Woof! Woof!


  1. Bette-Boo cocker is doing fine and has lost a total of 15 lbs since she was lost at Down East parking lot! She is perfect weight and loves to snuggle and be adored when and where ever you are. She loves bouncing along the trail following her big sister, smelling tons of things that are new to her. She is a dream come true and is a great addition to my family. She will always be loved.
    Thanks Karen for introducing her.....