I Should Coco!

Posted by in May's Magazine

21 days can seem like a lifetime…I type this with a small pug puppy trying not to slide off my lap, whilst chewing on a rawhide chewstick. She’s chewing on the chewstick, not me. Coco entered my life only three weeks ago but I can’t imagine being without the wee thing. Growing up in rural South Australia (Yankalilla to be precise), we always had a dog. There wasn’t much to do in downtown Yankalilla so I spent a fair chunk of my time hanging out with the family dog, training her to do various tricks from an old battered book we’d picked up at a garage (car boot) sale. Thirty years on, I finally have my very own dog whose official title is Coco III – Coco the Third.

The original Coco was a pug that my Darwin based uncle was dog sitting earlier this year. On our visit to Darwin, husband Andy and I immediately took to Coco, commenting, “Isn’t it amazing? She’s such a tiny dog, and she seems to prefer being indoors. Pugs don’t even like the heat – perfect for Scotland.” We’d been thinking of getting a pooch for some time, and within a month of returning to Leith had located a local breeder with a boy pug puppy nearly ready. We were uber-excited. Sadly the boy pug was diagnosed with a heart murmur, so the very responsible breeder (and coordinator of Edinburgh pug meet up group) wouldn’t sell him to us. Luckily he had a sister – hence the officious title Coco the Third – and she is wonderful.


I’m excited when I’m cycling back from an off-site fitness session, thinking about how happy she will look when I walk through the door (and feed her!). I live upstairs from my fitness studio, so Coco sits in on some personal training sessions. She’s three months old now, so slightly less hyper when meeting new clients than before. She has her ‘Coco cushion’ that she sits on during sessions, and at the end of a good workout, the client can have a pug hug if requested.

Eating daisies
Coco doesn’t sit in on all the fitness sessions, often finding an hour or two to relax in our sunny kitchen. The Griffen Fitness studio is also the first to register with the very fine website – set up to welcome dogs into public places – www.dugswelcome.com. Which offers a comprehensive overview of where you can take your pooch in Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK.

I wanted to train Coco to be social and relaxed around large groups of people and not freaked out by loud noises, after all, we live near Leith Walk. So we made sure that a lot of her initial training included hitching a ride in my handbag and visiting local shops. Her first shop visit was to Leith Cycle Co. (She seems to love the smell of grease and rubber!) She also loves her doggy basket pannier – the Cocomobile.

Another Leith Walk shop, Doggone Purrfect, is undoubtedly her favourite. Surprisingly, despite the fact it has been on my doorstep since I first moved to Leith, I had never been in. Owner Gordon has proved incredibly helpful and patient, and Coco sometimes gets a treat when she visits.

Woodland Creatures was her first pub (coincidentally, at the closing party of the Leith Walkers photography exhibition, whose founder took this rather fine puppy portrait). The Lioness of Leith was her first pub lunch, where a woman actually hunkered under our table to a have pat of the pet.

Coco likes our allotment, but not the wind. She’s getting used to the grassy expanse of Pilrig Park and the multitude of other dogs gallivanting (she typically starts of slightly nervous, then scampers about a bit and finally settles to eating daisies). I’m getting used to people stopping me on the street, wanting to pet her or even take her photo “it’s for my kids, honest”. She loves it! And yes, you’ve guessed, her very favourite pastime is sleeping on that sunny chair in our kitchen.

Crepe caravan
So far her biggest achievement is learning to hitch a ride in her custom-built basket, the Cocomobile. We both went to Pedal on Parliament, Coco riding pillion on the back of my bike. Later today we’re heading along the traffic-free cycle path to Portobello for her first ever visit to the beach. Followed by doggie liver biscuits from Crumbs of Portobello (the crepe caravan on Porty promenade). Life sure is an adventure with a puppy in tow!

If someone had told me how much time is involved in bringing up a puppy I might have had second thoughts, but now I am more than happy to be a ‘human mattress’ to this wee pup who has claimed my lap and stolen my heart.

Twitter: @tracygriffen
Facebook: /griffenfitnesss (for gratuitous pug photos)

Pic: Courtesy of John Harfield from www.leithwalkers.com

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