Sunny Daze for the Hansen Family
BY MELANIE CANE
After years of putting off their children’s pleas for a puppy, Don Hansen and Joie Cooney finally gave in and decided last fall to add a puppy to their family. Gracie, 13, and Finn, 11, were ecstatic.
Don grew up with a loving and intelligent poodle and Joie’s family had several memorable Cocker Spaniels. Having grown up with pure breeds, they originally planned to get a dog from a breeder, but after seeing all the dogs who needed homes on Petfinder.com, they decided to go the rescue route. They hoped to bring one home in December, when they would all be around and could take care of it and train it together.
They submitted several applications online, but Claudia Baker, owner of All Paws in Rye, was instrumental in connecting the family with Katherine Evans, a Rye resident and dog rescue volunteer at SNARR Northeast, a small, nonprofit dog rescue. They focus on saving dogs with special medical needs from shelters across the U.S.
In early December, the family visited foster homes to meet two cute, friendly four-month-old puppies. The kids were falling in love with an adorable white–and–black puppy, when Evans called to tell the family about a litter of puppies that had just come in from Texas.
When the family arrived at SNARR’s new adoption center in Brewster, Evans was holding a shy, sweet, brown puppy with a striped tail. She explained that this hound/retriever mix had arrived the day before with seven littermates, but all the other puppies had gone to foster homes that morning. Gracie and Finn took one look at him and decided he was the one.
After some heated family discussions about what to name him, Gracie prevailed with “Sunny”. “It matches his personality,” she declared. Sunny arrived at his new home in early December, when he was 8 weeks old and weighed 10 pounds. When he is fully grown, he will likely be between 45 and 60 pounds.
Once the kids realized Sunny could run with the proverbial big dogs, after he played with two rambunctious Bernadoodles over the holiday, they took him to Dog Beach at Rye Town Park. Sunny loved it and made lots of new friends. Joie, Finn, and Gracie also took him for a hike in Saxon Woods, where he was very confused by the furry “tree puppies” (aka, squirrels) who ran away from him.
The kids were excited to share their thoughts on their new puppy. “Sunny has brought a lot of love and excitement to our house, and I’m glad not to be the youngest in the family anymore,” joked Finn. Gracie added, “Sunny is my baby. I love hanging out and taking care of him. He’s a good boy.”
Finn and Gracie take turns feeding, walking, and playing with the pup. Their dad added, “And they’ve been very good about cleaning up after him. We had a dog trainer come to the house and both kids were attentive and have been working to implement everything the trainer told us.”
Finn said, “We take him for walks around our neighborhood and play with him in our backyard. He sits by the door when he wants to go out!”
Joie added, “I still can’t believe I agreed to this, but Sunny is a really sweet puppy and has been a joy to have around. He’s increased our family time as everyone wants to go when we take him out. The kids are at the right ages to be responsible for helping to take care of him and train him — and they’ve waited so long for a dog, they are happy to do so!
Sunny has put on five pounds in the past month, and sleeps through the night in his crate. He is learning to obey commands and is mostly housebroken. When he has something important to contribute, he likes to howl. He loves playing fetch with Gracie and Finn, going for early morning walks, and having his tummy rubbed. He is still determined to get a “tree puppy” to play with him.
“We all learned a lot about animal rescue during this process,” said Don and Joie. There are so many wonderful dogs and puppies who need homes – many of whom are already socialized and trained, which makes for a smooth transition to their new home. We are so happy to have gone the adoption route and welcomed Sunny into our family.”
Gracie, Sunny, and Finn