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.


Justin said...

I think this a wonderful story. It made me laugh at the behavior of a senior dog taken in by a family, giving him dignity in his last months with us. If you believe in karma, you have a dog in Heaven vying for your benefit. You have done a wonderful thing, and these types of things don't go unappreciated.

Beverly said...

so sorry for your loss.

Debby Winters said...

God bless you and God bless little Cooper. I am sure he is happy now romping around now at Rainbow Bridge free of all his earthly pain.
So sorry for your loss.

Joanne said...

nothing like a good cry first thing in the are truely one of the good people and the world...may you and your family be blessed always. Cooper is in a better place, and he is telling all his buddies what a great family he got to spend his last months with.

Barbara said...

What a wonderful thing you did taking in Cooper and loving him for his final months. Your story really touched my heart as I've gone through rescuing kitties from shelters and having to make the difficult decision to put them out of their misery. They are all romping and playing at Rainbow's Bridge just waiting for us. I look forward to reuniting with them all someday. ;D
Barb in TX