Paul Wellman

DAWG Adoption Story

A Sort of Homecoming

Two years ago, my beloved Chihuahua Simon died unexpectedly at the age of seven. Simey was my constant companion and most loyal friend. I was devastated. A few days after he passed away, I checked out DAWG’s (Dog Adoption & Welfare Group) adoption site. I’m not sure why; I didn’t want to get another pup, as I was deep in mourning for Simon. But I scrolled through the pictures and was struck by one dog in particular.

The pooch’s name was Cocoa, and he was a fat, chocolate brown and tan Chihuahua. He was smiling in the picture, but what drew me to him was the fact that he looked so similar to Simon—the rich chocolate/tan coloring of both Cocoa and Simon isn’t particularly common in Chihuahuas.

I went to visit Cocoa. He was terribly shy. He’d been with DAWG for a year, and before that he’d spent several months in the Santa Maria shelter, I was told by a DAWG volunteer. Cocoa had a home for one month before the adopters returned him to DAWG claiming he couldn’t bond with people.

I liked Cocoa right away. Despite his caution—he wouldn’t let me take him for a walk or hold him—he had a sweet presence, and he was cuddly with the volunteers he knew. I felt a kindred spirit with Cocoa—we were both wounded and needed time and space and compassion. I began visiting Cocoa twice a day. He got used to my visits and soon let me take him on short walks. He grew excited to see me, and let me hold and pet him. I came each day to hug him before he was put to bed for the night.

I adopted Cocoa (who now goes by Riley). In the two years since I brought Riley home, he has overcome nearly all his shyness. He comes to work with me every day, gets on well with his “brother,” Henry, (another DAWG rescue) and “sister,” Emma (an American Staffordshire terrier rescue), and is a calm, gentle soul. Although I wish Simon were still with me, I find solace in the fact that from his loss came great gain—for both me and Riley.


On Friday, August 19, at 7 p.m., DAWG is hosting a fundraiser movie night at Samy’s Camera (614 Chapala St.). The event includes live music, food, a raffle, and a screening of the movie Hotel for Dogs. Tickets are open donation, and all proceeds go to DAWG. For more info, call 681-0561 or email

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