Introducing Cocoa, senior Jackie Salvas’ heartwarming hound.
One day during her seventh grade winter break, Salvas was walking home from her grandmother’s house, when she noticed paw prints leading up her walkway to the front door.
As she entered the kitchen, she saw him.
The dog was incredibly malnourished, and he shied away from those who approached him, regardless of their intention.
The rescue pup was quickly named Cocoa for his warm mocha-colored pattern.
While Salvas’ mom had adopted Cocoa for her brother initially, he quickly became the “family pet,” said Salvas.
Due to malnutrition, Cocoa struggled with eating and would often get sick after a meal. To help him adjust, Salvas’ mom would cook Cocoa some scrambled hamburger and rice, which he had an easier time keeping down.
“He gradually started to gain weight, but he would still just follow my mom around everywhere,” Salvas said.
As the Salvases spent more time with Cocoa, more signs of his previous abuse became apparent. “He was afraid of other dogs and he didn’t even like to go outside in the daytime. … Anytime we’d give him a treat, he would take it and hide it or bring it to his bed to eat,” Salvas said.
However, as time passed, Cocoa warmed up to his new family.
He started to enjoy going outside at night and he developed a new pastime – chasing any bunnies he found in the neighborhood.
As he’s aged, Cocoa has completely broken free from his shell. “He’s become so much bolder, especially when it comes to begging for food,” said Salvas.
After years of practice, Cocoa has perfected his method of coaxing food out of people. He’ll start with a subtle nose poke and gradually work his entire face onto your lap. He’s just making sure that you know that if you can’t finish your meal, he gladly will.
Apart from his mooching tactics, Cocoa is also the choreographer behind his signature “happy dance.”
After relieving himself outside, Cocoa will dart from room to room, zipping, slipping and sliding to his heart’s content. He then ends his routine by digging wildly at his favorite spot on the couch before enthusiastically burying his face in blanketed bliss.
Despite a challenging past, Cocoa has found a loving home and thanks to the support of those around him, his relationship with his family went from distant to inseparable.
“One time after I had surgery, Cocoa sat with me the entire time I was home. When I had to get up, he would follow and comfort me. … He’s a loving hound and despite a rough patch in his life, he became a real part of the family,” said Salvas.
While Cocoa’s face has begun to grey, he remains the same sweet dog the Salvas family has come to know.
Cocoa has come a long way from being the skinny and shaky mistreated pup he once was. And, he is now the chubby, content and dearly loved hound who fully embraced his second chance.
Nothing warms up a cold winter’s day like Cocoa.