Pets and Their People: Cocoa and the Payettes

Cocoa poses with her loving family (left to right): Tom, Andrea, Thomas and Amy Payette. 

The Payettes of Rapidan have lots of animals at Riverside, their farm in Rapidan. There are 16 sheep, a guard donkey named Oscar and three lovely cats. There also is an extremely friendly black lab named Cocoa, and she is the star of this story. When Tom and Amy Payette’s children, Andrea and Thomas, announced they wanted a dog, the family set up a system called “puppy points.” Every time the kids did a good deed, scored 100 on “a hard test,” swept the driveway or took out the trash, they racked up points toward a pooch. In a collaborative spirit, their parents chalked up some points, too. The goal was 1,000, but somewhere along the way, before that total was reached, the family heard about black lab puppies for sale at a farm between Orange and Culpeper and went to check them out. “She ran right up to us,” said Andrea of the scampering pup soon to be named Cocoa. “The others all hid,” Thomas added. Soon, Cocoa was bounding all over Riverside and earning lots of her own puppy points for being such a great friend and companion. “She shares the happy times and smoothes over the sad times,” Tom Payette said as everyone else nodded in agreement. “She’s always happy to see you,” Amy Payette said as Cocoa, now 7, stayed close by and smiled wide. 

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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