Turning 5 months old: updates & surprising discoveries

And we are 5 months old! Coop is turning from a puppy into a young grown-up cocker spaniel. He looks gorgeous – we often feel bad and extremely guilty about admitting it, but he looks more beautiful than Oscar… And Oscar was stunning. It’s such a confusing confession, especially because there’s so much love involved.

I guess I have an eye for picking the most beautiful puppies… Though this is just a part of the story. The biggest discovery of the month was, of course, about Cooper being related to Oscar. Yes, you read it correctly. And I had no idea until a couple of weeks ago when I checked Coops pedigree certificate.

A few names sounded familiar, so I pulled out Oscar’s papers and did a bit of research.

My boys have 16 dogs in common. Sixteen. Even more, Oscar’s 5th generation granddad is Cooper’s 7th generation great grand grand (add correct number of “greats” here). Yes, it’s amazing. And yes, I do realise I sound like a crazy person, but being Russian (and being me) I do believe in signs. The whole “finding Cooper story” was already a case of serendipity where little signs meant so much, this last part made me think that my beautiful boy, my Oscar whom I miss so very much, sent me a little puppy to mend my broken heart and in a way, help me stay connected to him.

So here we are… It’s complicated. And rather wonderful. I would have loved Cooper regardless, but now I know he carries a bit of Oscar in him (which is actually obvious, they share a few similarities without looking the same), he is my Universe.

And now, the rest of the updates…

NUTRITION. We are still on Royal Canin Junior, but Cooper is also loving a bit of chicken, carrots, cucumbers and salad leaves, and has a very soft spot for watermelon (he knows when there’s one around). For his training I use his Royal Canin kibble broken in half and sometimes also mix it with Thrive Chicken Treats, which are pieces of dried chicken – very convenient to have a tub around. I break them into 5mm pieces for Cooper because he doesn’t have enough teeth or experience to deal with the whole ones.

TEETHING. Oh, the lil ones are falling out… Now we have a complete set of incisors, and moving onto premolars and co.

I have a feeling it drives Cooper mad because the poor boy is obsessed with chewing his toys and bones. Right now we are loving the rope Owl and Giraffe (which I had to re-order, feel rather attached to the Foxy, and cannot get enough of my DIY bottle toy and WagWear bones – I had to order a couple of new ones from the States, ironically it was cheaper and faster than buying them over here.

I know it may sound like an advert (and trust me, it is not), but the WagWear is now my bone of choice. First of all, the rubber is food-grade and U.S.-made, so there are certainly safety regulations in place. Secondly, it lasts for ages even when the sharp puppy teeth are involved. And although Cooper can eventually bite (or grind) off tiny bits, he either spits them out or I fish them out of his mouth myself. I check the bone regularly, I’d say every 15-20 minutes (yes, I am a bit paranoid) and every other day cut off any semi-loose bits off with a sharp knife, just in case. Another think about WagWear that make me happy is the fact that, unlike nylon and plastic bones, any rubber pieces can be seeing on an x-Ray – while Nylabone & similar would never show up.

COAT. Cooper is yet to hit it Yeti stage, but he does look very fluffy and right now still feels so so so soft I can’t help stroking, cuddling and carrying him, probably a touch too much, but I don’t care. He loves it. I do, too. Having said that, he is 10kg now, so it’s a bit of a workout. He is enjoying his showers and blow dries and invented a quick game of “digging the water”, just for a bit of fun.

Although we have two showers daily, I only wash his paws and bottoms of his ears, never – the entire dog. I know I’ve already mentioned it before, but I’ve seen so many cocker pups being washed on a regular basis, I seem to be the only one against it. I do have my reasons, though: most shampoos are either full of chemicals, parabens and SLS, or sold as natural but packed with essential oils (which a dog can have a reaction to); washing a cocker spaniel may affect his coat (by stripping the hair of its natural oils) and skin (cockers are prone to skin reactions, allergies and dandruff); and last but not least, my dogs never smell unpleasant, so there’s no issue with odour here.

ACTIVITIES. We introduced Cooper to city walks, which we all enjoyed. And we still hope to get to the coast, so the boy can smell the ocean and get acquainted with all kinds of new and marine things. Somehow every time we plan to go, it starts to rain, but I am thinking positive.

It was also the month of serious teething. The incisors are now all new and strong, but the rest of the mouth is still going through the transformation.

TRAINING. Next wonderful thing is, of course, the house training. Cooper is so good at his garden visits! He no longer needs it as much as two months ago, but still sticks to the sleep-toilet, play-toilet, chew-toilet kind of rule. It’s been several days in a row without any puddles indoors (the number 2 is always saved for the garden – he hates doing it indoors). He also finally understands that it’s totally ok to relieve himself during a walk (yes!) and has signs and signals for me to notice whenever he is ready to run to the garden when we are at home.

We sleep through the night most days. He wakes up at 5AM to pop down to the garden, then sleeps until 6AM when we go out for a walk and a run before having breakfast. Every other day Coop actually sleeps until 5:45, which is a joy for me (though I do feel like I could sleep for days now…)

His sleeping habits are changing, though – and it’s definitely another sign of growing-up. For the first two months Cooper insisted on sleeping next to me, whether we are talking the sofa or the bed. This month he often wonders off to his own bed, naps on the floor or even disappears in the kitchen. But being a cocker, he follows me everywhere when he is awake – and I mean everywhere. Just like Oscar did.

I am still training him every day and while we are walking and, as long as there’re treats involved, he adore our little sessions.

And the walks, oh boy, the walks… He loves them. He runs a lot. I run a lot. With him. Without fear of pain anymore. Funny, before we brought Cooper I haven’t run for over 3 years. I was so scared that my post-injury pain will return and leave me motionless again. I said to my husband that he would be the one running with our little boy. Well, he doesn’t. And I do. Down the streets. Around the golf course. We run and run and so far I’ve been alright and Cooper – utterly happy. We are also getting to the point of lead-free walks – right now Coop still has it attached to him (without me being attached to the lead), but I feel like letting it go completely in a couple of weeks – the boy is pretty good at coming to us whenever we call him and it makes it easier and safer to run, run, run…

Frankly, I don’t even know what I would do without those runs. Comes evening, Cooper is dying for a proper marathon and burning his energy up. If we don’t run, he goes mad and tries to find ways to entertain and tire himself. And it can be very stressful. Luckily, the weather has been wonderful and we were out every evening mainly going to the woods and golf course, occasionally swapping it for the streets and town park, just to break the boredom and make sure the pup knows how to behave around people and when in town.

He is now a lot more confident around dogs – in fact, he always tries to say hello and shows particular tender feelings towards certain breeds, which so far included staffies, cockers, pointers and leongerger (yes, the last one was so huge, I quietly died inside when she approached us, yet she didn’t mind our pup and Coop was all over her…)

And of course, people. He still loves people, all people, not as excitedly as before, but he loves it when there’s an opportunity to say hello and get a cuddle.