Monday, January 28, 2008

Goodbye, Cooper

Cooper left us last Monday, January 21, and made his way to the Rainbow Bridge. We'll miss you, buddy.

Cooper joined our family rather unexpectedly last March -- I was at the SPCA "just visiting the kitties" with Juliana when I noticed this little grey-muzzled guy in his own x-pen in the main lobby. He looked AWFUL. He was dirty, matted and so weak that he could barely lift his head when I walked up to him. I talked to the staff a little bit about him -- he was a stray, brought in from the edge of the county; no one had any idea how long he'd been wandering or what his issues were, and no one seemed particularly concerned about him. He was headed out (and not via the front door) if he wasn't adopted in the next day or so -- no one was holding out much hope for finding a home for this tired and sick senior citizen. I brought Tim and Tigger (our alpha female) back to meet him that evening and took him home for good the next day.

Cooper was in such deplorable physical condition that we honestly expected to have him for a few short weeks. The vet couldn't pin down an age but suspected the 9-10 year range given the condition of his teeth. Coop could barely stand due to the complete lack of muscle tone in his back legs. He wouldn't chew dry food, so we started him on kibble soaked in broth, with added thyroid meds and a needed supplement for his liver function. He would hobble across the floor until his feet slid out from under him, and then he would just give up and rest wherever he fell. After a few weeks we discovered that he wasn't just ignoring us -- he was actually completely deaf. Over time we developed a rather simplistic system of signals...stomp on the floor to get his attention, then a big wave this way if you want him to come toward you, or a big wave that way if you're trying to shoo him out the door. Easy but effective, as long as you weren't hoping for speed.

He got along fine with the other dogs, never even glanced at the cats, and was an absolute doll with the kids. He was a quiet little presence in the house -- not so much like a dog as just a small, tired soul in a furry package. There were a number of times that we thought we'd lost him -- he slept so soundly, presumably because he couldn't hear, that you had to touch him to wake him up. A few times he took a little longer to come out of his naps and we really thought he'd passed away.

After a few months he seemed to perk up a little -- his tail would wag for a few seconds, and he would almost seem to get up to a trot when making his way from the back room (where the dogs are kenneled) to the backyard. He managed to get up and down the back steps, albeit slowly and with a few wobbles. But for a few months, he seemed to be turning a corner.

Unfortunately, this winter proved too much for his already weakened system. He started to fail rapidly around Christmas and by last week he had stopped eating. His eyes were cloudy and he seemed to be having difficulty focusing. He would still tolerate being petted, but how much of that was just being too weak to protest...? I'll never know. We took him to see Dr. Dave last Monday and made the difficult decision to let him go. God bless our wonderful vet for his perfect mix of compassion and professionalism...he is the very best. I hope to pick up Cooper's ashes sometime this week. I'm not sure yet what I'll do with them -- I would like to take him with us when we move out to the country this summer. He would have liked it there.

He was a charming boy who was with us for too short a time, but he brought us a lot of joy. I will miss him always. Blessed be, dear Cooper, now and everafter...and thank you for being a part of our lives.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby Steps

I'm taking baby steps toward feeding my family better! I've been baking my own bread -- my goal is that my children will one day have no memory of storebought bread. A bajillion thanks to Farmgirl for being so inspiring, and especially for recommending Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads -- it's been a lifesaver. The Buttermilk White bread is outstanding and is our new sandwich bread of choice. And the only loaf I've made so far that didn't turn out was a recipe from the back of the flour bag -- all of Mr. Clayton's recipes have been successful. I'll take a few photos of upcoming loaves and post them here when I can.

I also want to thank Amanda for recommending We received our first shipment of produce yesterday and it's wonderful. Reasonably priced, fresh and yummy, and 100% organic (now if only it didn't have to be shipped...! ...carbon emissions and fuel consumption will be the death of my conscience). It's really going to help me feed fresh, nutritious things to my family in the dead of winter, when everything at the grocery store seems too expensive and too "plastic." I hate conventionally-grown, genetically-modified, blemish-free, perfectly-sized, perfectly-shaped, waxed and shined and polished fruits and veggies. Ick.

It's just baby steps, but it's helping.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Christmas Photos

Here's my beautiful girls in their 2007 Christmas photo. The photographer really captured them! Rina looks like such a big girl, and Juli is just her perfectly charming and sparkly self. I love this photo!