When my mom unexpectedly passed away, I didn’t really know where to start. What I did know was that I needed to make sure her pets would be taken care of. My mom loved her pets and she had quite a bit; from livestock such as cows, donkeys, llamas, goats, etc to the more domestic kinds such as dogs, cats, fish, and birds. However, she also had quite a few of each.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to take care of the livestock, so I found them a good home where it was promised that they wouldn’t be taken to auction or slaughtered. Next where the smaller pets; about two dozen birds, a dozen cats, a few fish tanks, and seven dogs. Through the help of many people along the way, I was able to find great homes for all. From the beginning though, I knew that I was going to keep one of the small dogs, Coco. Gamba was one that I was initially trying to find a good home for and fortunately events rolled out a certain way…
Coco the Dog
Coco is a chihuahua mix and she loved my mom dearly. My mom and I would talk on average about every other day; and if she was at home, Coco would be desperately climbing up to her shoulder and licking her all over to steal her attention away. When the unimaginable occurred, I knew Coco would be missing my mom greatly and although I never imagined having a small dog, I knew that we needed each other.
In the beginning, Gamba and I weren’t really the best of friends. He’s a very large Anatolian Shepard / Great Pyrenees mix that was very protective of my mom. He was so protective, that he didn’t really like me getting too close either and he would usually have to be put in a room when I was visiting; I wasn’t sure if he wanted to have me for dinner, but it sure looked like it. He was never socialized so he had a little bit of a temperament with strangers. Once the unimaginable occurred though, he and I had no choice…
I knew that one way or another, I needed to befriend Gamba in order to take care of all my mom’s pets, including him. It started with patience, and plenty of hotdogs. At first, he wasn’t sure what to make of me or the situation. He knew something was different, but he wasn’t quite ready to trust me completely; but enough to at least let me inside the house.
Our friendship started to grow when one day the cows had broken through the center gate and entered the home’s yard. As I ran around trying to round them up with little success, I had no idea how I was going to get these massive cows back into their field. Suddenly I see Gamba dart from under the home, running towards the cows; I thought he was attempting to attack them and there I was trying to keep him from hurting them. I then realized that he was just nipping at their feet and getting to move towards the gate. As soon as he chased one back into the field, he would turn around and come back to get another one. He never bit any of the cows and as soon as he was done, he went back underneath the home just keeping an eye on me from afar. Although he was still wary of me, he had come to help.
Gamba was starting to show the great dog that he could and wanted to be with others. However, I knew that it would take a lot of one-on-one work, especially if I was to keep him in the city as he was raised in the country. Thus, I was trying to find him a good home as well; ideally out in the country with someone that had the experience and time to train him. I had several people come by and take a look at him; all essentially passing on him. Throughout this time, our friendship kept growing and his trust with me had reached a level I never imagined. Once he was the last remaining dog at my mom’s, I couldn’t bare leave him alone so I decided to bring him home as I continued looking for his forever home.
Once I brought him home, I started working with him in hopes that he could do a bit better in his interviews and others could see the great dog he wanted to be. A couple of weeks pass with him and I making amazing progress together. Since early on, I kept debating on keeping him, but I knew he still needed more training to successfully coexist in a neighborhood city setting. It was around this time that I got a follow up from a Great Pyrenees Rescue with one of the coordinators willing to come by to meet him.
Up to this point, I had only been successful at having Gamba befriend one other person. When the rescue coordinator asked me to remove Gamba’s cord while she was outside, not only did he stop barking at her, he even had a friendly yet cautious demeanor towards her. As we spoke, I started picking up that not only was she interviewing Gamba, but she was also seeing how he and I were interacting. That’s when she said something along the lines of, “I know you’ve been looking for his forever home, but maybe he has already found it.” She was able to see how much loyalty, trust, and connection Gamba had developed towards me. We both had experienced a tremendous loss and he was my mom’s protector. A year ago, I never imagined that Gamba and I would be able to interact the way that we do now…
So, although the process has been long and some training is still coming along, I’m so proud of the progress him and I have made. I’m glad that circumstances rolled out in the way that so many others had passed on him because I never would have had this opportunity.
Coco & Gamba Will Always be My Mom’s Pets
I’m glad to say that I’ve decided to keep both Coco and Gamba. They will always be my mom’s pets; I’m just taking care of them as they share their lives with me until they can be together with my mom again.