Mum says her pet dogs bring welcome chaos back into her emptying nest

Mum says her pet dogs bring welcome chaos back into her emptying nest

When all but one of Claire and Andrew Wood’s children flew the nest, Claire realised she missed being needed as a mum and the family home was a little too quiet. That all changed when she and her husband welcomed two more ‘youngsters’ into their lives – lovely, lively cockapoo puppies Coco and Fred.

“Our dogs are such a joy – I can’t imagine life without them,” says accounts manager Claire, 46.

With full-of-beans Fred charging about and Coco barking at him to calm down, the Woods’ home has the same youthful buzz the couple enjoyed when they moved in together in 2010, with five children between them from previous relationships.

It was a busy, happily blended household, where there were always people coming and going. Fast forward to 2020, and now with only one grown-up son, Charlie, still living at home, Claire yearned for those hectic comings and goings. So she decided to channel her nurturing energy into raising a puppy – opting for an adorable black cockapoo she named Coco (last name Chanel, after Andrew’s mum’s favourite perfume).

'And they’re always happy to see us, even if we’ve only been gone for a few minutes!' – Claire Woods

The family, who live near Preston in Lancashire, fell head over heels in love with cuddle-crazy Coco, and in 2021 they decided to get Fred, also a black cockapoo puppy, as company for her. “Coco and Fred have brought a lot of fun and a welcome bit of chaos back to our house,” says Claire.

“They get on really well, even though they’re like chalk and cheese. Where Coco is quite elegant, Fred is just comedy. He’s full of energy and tends to go through things rather than round them!

“And even though Fred is now bigger and faster, Coco is definitely the boss – she’s always barking at him to tell him off. She’s such a character and so intelligent.”

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The dogs’ youthful enthusiasm also helps the couple stay active. “They get us out and about,” Claire explains, revealing how she and Andrew, a 62-year-old retired businessman, take Coco and Fred on five-mile walks early every morning.

“Not only have we discovered new areas around where we live, but it’s a great way to keep us both fit.”

For Fred, however, it’s often a daily swim as well as a stroll. “We sometimes go to the river and while Coco will only put her paws in, Fred loves swimming,” reveals Claire.

“As soon as he sees the water, he’s in. He gets so excited he makes a sound like a dolphin and wags his tail so much he can’t swim in a straight line. Getting him out is a challenge, though, so I recently bought him a paddling pool – now he can go for a splash whenever he likes!”

Loving and loyal family dogs, Coco and Fred are always there to greet Claire, Andrew and Charlie when they get back from work.

“They always know when one of us is coming home, and will come and sit by the utility door and wait for them to come in.

“And they’re always happy to see us, even if we’ve only been gone for a few minutes!”

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