Why does Cooper always ride in the front seat?

Does it seem like I am always posting pictures of Cooper riding in the front seat when other dogs are in the back of the truck? Well, while almost every dog has been in the front seat at one time or another, Cooper has definitely claimed the passenger seat as his throne. This is not a game of favorites, and here is the story of how this came to be.... When I started taking Cooper to the park he was about 7 months old and full of energy. I was still driving my 4runner with all the dogs right behind me - seperated only by a metal dog gate - and I had a pretty strict protocol on how the dogs behaved while I was driving - lay down and shut up! Well, wiggly-exploding-with-energy Mr. Cooper just couldn't hang in the back. So, he rode up front with a doggy harness on so he couldn't move or cause any trouble. Eventually, we graduated to the point where he could ride in the back with the other dogs on the way home from the park, once he had calmed down a little bit. And the finally, he graduated to being sane enough to ride in the back all the time.

Let me take a step back.... when I met Cooper, I knew that he was only going to be with me for year. His mom is in a grad school program and is moving back to Chicago with her husband in August. I told myself not to get attached to this one because I knew he would be leaving me eventually - FAIL! 

Starting about two months ago I had an explosion of Golden Retriever puppies join the pack - Stella, Tucker, Bonita and Chesa (yellow lab, but still a puppy!). As one could imagine, these puppies demanded a lot of my attention in the first few weeks just to make sure they were adjusting to the routine and sticking with the pack. During this time, Cooper totally started acting out. He has always been a very good dog - if I call him, he comes running so fast he skids to my feet and sits as stiff as a statue for his treat. I can literally get him to do anything with a "Coop Coop" and reaching for a treat in my pocket.

One day, things started to change with Cooper. He stopped coming when I called him, and he started doing all the bad things you don't want at dog to do at the park! He was drinking out of the nasty puddles even when I called him away, he was playing too rough with the puppies (unheard of for Mr. Cooper), he was running away from the truck when it was time to load up and refused to get in, and then the ultimate.... he ate poop. Cooper eating poop may have been one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I was reaching in my pocket for a bag, and he was sniffing the specimen. He kept looking at me like he was daring me or something.... Right as I reached down to pick it up, he took a big bite of the poop!!! So gross, I know, but unfortunately, quite a few dogs do it.... As soon as he took the bite he gave me this horrified look, like "why did I do that?!" but it was too late to do anything about it. After this string of events, I was driving away from a frustrating park day with Cooper and it hit me! Mr. Cooper was jealous and felt replaced by the puppies. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that - possibly because none of my other dogs were acting out - I try very hard to give equal attention to all of my dogs, but apparently they aren't all as sensitive as Cooper.

Normally I would try and work through this with a dog, but since Cooper is only with me for one more month (yes, his park trips end this month!), I figured I would try a little experiment. I started putting Cooper in the front seat with me as we were leaving the park, and all the behaviors went away. He is back to his good old self - he comes when I call him, he doesn't eat poop, he plays well with the puppies..... It was literally like night and day.

Not only do I enjoy Cooper being on better behavior at the park, I have so much fun with him in the front. I went to get a dog the other day, and came back and Cooper was sitting in my seat. I got in and tried to scoot him over, and he totally went limp, absolutely refusing to move. He then tried to sit on my lap and lick all over my face. Oh Coop.

On rainy days I cover him with towels to keep him from shivering. Or in extreme situations, like today, I put a hoodie on him. I'll miss you Coop, it's nice to have someone to talk to in the car ;)

Posted on April 26, 2011 .