When Alexis Grant, journalist and aspiring author, returned from an artist’s residency in Georgia, she brought back a new friend: a stray dog that had begged for food and captured her heart. Today Alexis shares her thoughts on getting to know her new furry friend.

Guest Blog- by Alexis Grant

When two burly men walked into my home carrying a large piece of equipment to refurbish the hardwood floors, Cooper, my newly adopted golden-retriever slash mutt, lifted his leg and peed in the middle of the family room.
He was scared. It made sense, since he’s afraid of unfamiliar men, as well as big machinery, and this was a combination of the two. But I still didn’t expect housebroken Cooper to urinate where he stood.

There’s a lot I’m still learning about Cooper. He likes sleeping on the cool tile floor by the door – not on the doggie bed I bought him. His preferred toy is a stick; he won’t even touch the big bone I sought out at the pet store especially for him. And when trucks speed past us during our morning walk, he leaps after them, sometimes pulling me with him.

Why? I wish I knew. I wish Cooper could talk, could explain why he runs after those trucks, who dumped him in the north Georgia woods outside my artist studio, why he sensed that if he followed me around long enough, looking hungry, I’d take him home. (Obviously he was right.) Most of all, I wish he could tell us his original name. Now that he has lived with us for two months, this rescued dog answers to Cooper. But I can’t imagine living till age 10 or 11 – that’s 70 in dog years, right? – and then being renamed.

Of course, it’s quite possible that Cooper wants to forget the life that came along with his old name. Something that happened in that life gave him a scar under his right eye, made him afraid of men. I tell myself that he can deal with a new name, so long as he has a loving family, a warm home, a bowl full of food. But sometimes when he wakes me up in the morning, starts panting in the excitement of a new day, I still wonder about Cooper’s previous life. Who could abandon such a beautiful, well-mannered dog? And what did that owner call him?
No matter, he tells me with his morning kisses, his wagging tail. I can call him whatever I want – so long as I rub his belly.