I’ve only known her for two weeks and I have only spent a few days with her, but I have a new best friend: Mocha Jo.
Mocha is a shelter dog—a stray rescued during the dead of winter. I first heard about her back in February. My friend told me about her because she knew (1) my planned moved at the end of May was going to allow me to get a dog (finally!), and (2) I had my heart set on either a St. Bernard or a chocolate lab. Casually mentioning that a shelter in her hometown had recently rescued a chocolate lab, my friend showed me photos of said dog. I immediately swooned over her; but my heart broke because it was only February and I had to wait three months before I could seriously start looking for a dog.
Throughout the next few months, my friend kept me posted on the status of the rescued chocolate lab. Despite her amiable demeanor and gorgeous puppy-dog face, no one had adopted her. How could this be? Who could say no to a dog like her? Even though I wanted this dog to have a good home, I was secretly glad she was still available for adoption because then I had a chance with her.
Finally, the middle of May arrived. With my move date rapidly approaching, my friend (who knows the shelter owner) helped set up a time to for me and The Boy to meet the chocolate lab.
When my friend called the shelter, she found out that the chocolate lab had been adopted a couple days before. My heart broke again. I was about fourteen days from being able to claim her as mine and she was snatched right out from under me. But, my friend had good news for me. There was a good possibility that the chocolate lab was going to be surrendered back to the shelter because the couple that adopted her wasn’t on the same page in what kind of dog (if any) they wanted. Thankfully for me (and eventually the chocolate lab), the adoption did fall through. A couple of days later, The Boy and I journeyed to York, Nebraska to meet the chocolate lab.
The second I saw her, I knew she would be mine. Given that I grew up with an incredibly large chocolate lab, she was a lot smaller than I expected—but I knew she would fit right in with my family’s dogs, who are both also on the smaller side of their respective breeds. It also helped that the chocolate lab was playing with a small puppy during our visit. The two of them were so cute together. In fact, I kind of wanted to bring both of them home.
Then I heard the chocolate lab’s story. Having been rescued near Champion Homes, the chocolate lab’s name was Champ. In February, a woman called the shelter about a stray dog. This woman expressed great concern for the dog because February was a particularly cold month this past winter. Sharing this woman’s concern, the shelter immediately began trying to catch the stray. However, the stray chocolate lab was pretty sly and evaded several attempts. The shelter eventually caught her, having resorted to a strategy involving a large trap cage and fried chicken. From the chocolate lab’s condition, it looked as though she’d been on her own for a while or someone had treated her pretty badly (I did not like the thought of either scenario!). She had several injuries, including a pretty bad tear on her ear; but with some loving care provided by the shelter and its partnering vet, the chocolate lab named Champ recovered nicely.
Her story made my heart sad, but I knew I could give her the happy ending she deserved.
So, there I was head over heels for this chocolate lab. My friend was also sold on me adopting the chocolate lab. But, then there was The Boy. Even though he knew he didn’t have much say in the matter, I mean, um … because it was a joint decision, he knew I was looking for his approval. He knew the chocolate lab was going home with us, but he wanted to milk the few minutes I anxiously waited for his answer. After tormenting me for a few minutes, he came to his senses and agreed this chocolate lab was “the one.”
Unfortunately, I was still about ten days from being able to take her home with me. I was a little concerned that the shelter would not want to hold her for a couple more weeks (mostly because she’d already been there for nearly three months), but the shelter was not only willing to hold her, the owner also arranged for the chocolate lab to be spayed during that time so we would have one less “new dog task” to deal with.
The next two weeks seemed to take forever. Not only was I in the process of moving, I was eagerly waiting for the day I could give this dog a real home.
Last Thursday, finally, The Boy and I journeyed back to York to bring our chocolate lab home. We decided to rename her Mocha Jo because although she is a chocolate lab mutt, she looks like a black lab in certain light—she is a dark chocolate lab, if you will. And to top it off, the white patch on her chest is like a little bit of whipped topping (pun intended).
The Boy and I weren’t sure how she would handle the forty five minute drive home, but Mocha was phenomenal. She snoozed the whole way.
We have had Mocha for three days now and we are convinced could not have found a more perfect dog. No accidents. No random chewed up objects. No excessive barking. In fact, it is almost unsettling how perfect Mocha is—not many new dog owners can say the first 72 hours were a breeze. Rather than pushing her limits and testing our patience, Mocha is proving to be a sweet and calm dog that appreciates a good home—a home in which she’s making herself quite comfortable.
I must admit that a large part of our new dog success (i.e. no accidents) is due to Kathy, the owner of K9 Coach Learning Center in York, Nebraska. In the three months Mocha was at the shelter, Kathy and her staff trained Mocha. Among other things, Mocha knows how to sit, lie down, shake, heel, fetch and walk on a loose leash. Kathy also kennel trained and house trained Mocha.
I barely know Kathy, but I am forever indebted to her. Not only did she rescue my Mocha from the freezing cold, she also gave us the perfect dog by taking the time to care for, train and love a stray dog.
The Boy and I absolutely love Mocha, and based on the hugs (a trick nurtured by Kathy) and kisses we get, Mocha loves us too. We may only be three days into our relationship, but I’m thinking Mocha’s story will end with a happily ever after.