RICO REMINDS ME… I am loved!

Brain Injury Blog

RICO REMINDS ME… I am loved!

by Marie G. Cooney


I wasn’t planning on getting another dog, that fine June day, when I found Rico. Or maybe it is better to say when Rico found me. “No dog is better than the wrong dog,” I tried to explain to Katie, a young teenager, who didn’t quite believe me. Her mother, Sheila, had tried to explain to Katie that I was very serious and that she should NOT pressure me to get another dog. Somehow, Katie did not really believe her mother or me.

I had heard there was a Border Collie mix up for adopted. I had the intention of window shopping. Katie was certain we were adopting. Being adopted, herself, I think Katie especially believed everyone deserved the chance to be adopted by a loving family. And she was going to make sure I adopted a dog, any dog, for her and for me.

The intended dog was mixed with a Hound Dog with a deep bark, and it didn’t seem very smart. “I can’t get this dog,” I said. Katie was stunned. “But, but…” she tried to hold back her dismay. Sheila shot her a warning glance. “It’s really true? We’re going to walk away?” Katie asked in shock. “No dog is better than the wrong dog,” I repeated. “I’m sorry, Katie. Maybe we’ll find another dog on another day.”

Much to Katie’s disbelief, we really did begin to walk away. The car doors were unlocked. We were just about to leave. Suddenly, a couple showed up with the most beautiful tri-colored dog. Our eyes locked immediately. “May I run with your dog?” I asked the foster parents. They handed over the leash. Rico’s stance was beautiful. His face and ears were alert. And when we ran back and forth, he followed spoken and implied commands.

Rico and I played and played. I worked him in this direction and that direction. We gracefully moved from play to work to play again. Rico had all his attention on me. And apparently, many potential owners had all their attention on us. Finally, I walked to the volunteers and said with shear excitement, “I’d like to get this dog!” I didn’t even notice the disappointment of other people, and the delight by the foster parents that their dog had found the right owner!

Katie even signed the adoption papers with me. I think that was a very meaningful moment for her. People always asked if Tucker were her dog, and she’d say, “Yes, um I mean… No, he’s Marie’s dog.” I had told her it was okay to call him her dog too. So she started to explain, “Tucker is my dog, but Marie’s service animal, which is why he lives mostly with her instead of me.” That worked for both of us. So I asked if she could adopt Rico with me!

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been through many emotional roller coasters. I’ve become much more aware of the heightened emotions I experience since my Traumatic Brain Injury. I am becoming more aware that sometimes it takes longer to calm myself when I am upset, and sometimes it takes less.

Rico is the sweetest dog. If he sees me crying, arguing on the phone, or shaking with overwhelming emotions, Rico always crawls into my lap. He licks and licks the seemingly endless tears flowing down my face until I assure him that I’m okay. Then, as I begin to calm down, Rico nudges his neck against mine. A friend from Courage Center explained to me, “Rico is feeling your pulse, waiting for it to return to normal.”

Wow. I had never imagined that a dog could be that smart and intuitive. Soon Rico will be sitting in my lap, rocking back and forth with me, once he is assured that I’m alright. Calmed from whatever has disturbed me, I now know that I am okay, because Rico reminds me, that no matter what has happened, I am loved, unconditionally.

August 24, 2011


3 responses to “RICO REMINDS ME… I am loved!”

  1. Marie G. Cooney says:


    The best matches are definitely those who pick each other! Thanks for your response. Best wishes to you and Nicky!

    Marie and Rico

  2. Janet Cromer says:

    Hi Marie,
    WOW, you and Rico are so perfect for, and attuned to, each other! You meet Rico’s needs for love, excitement, and consistency as well as he meets yours. My male shih-tzu, Nicky, also picked me while I was “just looking” for a female dog. We’ve been inseparable for 7 years.

  3. Marie G. Cooney says:

    Previous “Tucker Taught Me…” stories by Marie G. Cooney include the following:

    “Tucker Taught Me… Make New Friends” – July 7, 2011

    “Tucker Taught Me… Let’s Chase Rabbits” – May 3, 2011

    “Tucker Taught Me… Find a Good Lap” – March 31,2011

    Welcome from Marie – March 8, 2011

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