One evening in June 2002, I walked into the breakroom of the Intensive Care Unit where I worked as a nurse, and something on the front page of a newspaper that had been tossed aside caught my attention. It was a story about 32 Lhasa Apso dogs who had been seized by police and were going to be offered for adoption at a local pet store in a few days. I wanted to show it to my then boyfriend (now husband) Rob, because he'd had a Llasa Apso growing up and had mentioned a few times that he'd like another one. He looked at the article and said "Yeah, maybe we can go take a look at them." To which I had to reply that I do not just LOOK at abandoned dogs - I would either have to go and get one, or simply not go at all. I knew I wouldn't have the willpower to resist bringing one home. So he was warned :).
The following Saturday we went down to the pet store and perused the badly, badly neglected little dogs. There were many others there doing the same thing - but there was one Lhasa who wasn't getting any attention, mostly because he cowered in the back of his kennel and refused to come out. People tried momentarily to get him to cooperate, then gave up and moved on to another dog. I sat down and spent twenty minutes coaxing him out of the back of the cage and when I finally had him out and picked him up, he wrapped his front paws tightly around my forearm. "This is the one." I said. "He's the one we should get."
I distinctly remember Rob saying "Really? Are you sure you don't want this brown one over here?" No, I told him, other people were looking at the brown one. No one was looking at this grey one. Like all the others, he was terribly matted, skinny as a rail, and just generally had a down-trodden look about him. So while he continued to hang onto my arm, we walked over and bought him a green leash and collar. Then we took that mangy little mutt to the groomers and back to my house. Rob named him Kocher (pronounced Koker, named after Rob's favorite surgeon - don't ask).
He was a Steeler's fan.
He did a lot of weird stuff. Like lay on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.
And sleep with his tongue sticking out.
We have several photos of Kocher laying under the Christmas tree. It was one of his favorite things. As soon as it went up each year, he took his place beneath it, surrounded by gifts, and slept beneath the lights.
He was a funny guy and we loved having him as part of our family for eleven years. Kocher passed away two weeks ago, at about the age of fifteen. While we were all very sad to lose him, it was time. He was ready to go. He was loved until the very end and he knew it. We sure will miss you, Kokie Boy.