He rises slowly with the eagerness of someone half his age. His face is bright but his eyes tell a different story. Sad, low and watery they show the signs of wear reserved for someone who has survived life’s tribulations. His days remain the same, up early and out the door. Many things to do, places to see, smells to smell and things to taste. Life is still a curiosity to him for even though his body and mind have aged, his want has not. He refuses to believe that pain and stiffness are a deterrent from everyday living. When he hurts he whines, when he is stiff he stretches, when he can’t bring himself to do either he just lays there, content in the fact he is safe and secure inside the confines of his own home.
Our dog Cooper is soft and cuddly, he always smells clean and there is no better partner to have when you have had a bad day. He isn’t the first to greet you when you arrive home, but you can bet he is the last one standing by your side when the others have found shiny objects to chase in bewilderment. As dogs go I would say the old man is one of the best. He carries himself with poise and dignity, no frivolous sloppy tongue action with this old boy. Nope, he is all hugs and heavy sighs. If you get an occasional “kiss” it’s because you have truly earned his affection. Cooper is 12 years old (thats 84 in human years) and we have begun to face the fact he wont be with us for many more. He moves slower and more cautiously as though he were afraid he may fall and break a hip. His mind is wandering a bit too, akin to that of an elderly person with a bit of dementia. Occasionally we will see him out in the yard barking at absolutely nothing. (not his style). Wandering aimlessly as though he is lost in the confines of his own backyard. It seems like yesterday I met this strapping young pup who would run a marathon without breaking into a pant. Play frisbee till he dropped, then chase and even catch the occasional jack rabbit. Now he can’t even make it to the end of the street without needing a two-hour nap afterwards. So sad really…
We have four dogs yet he is the only one our children have truly known through all phases of life. They love all our dogs, but when the day is done, Cooper is the one who receives the lions share of affection. I am not looking forward to the day I am tasked with telling my family he has passed. The tears will fall like rain and our hearts will swell with sorrow at the thought of life’s existence without our beloved family member.
You stare at me and its like we can speak without ever saying a word. Its one of the things I love most about you Cooper. I cherish the way you sleep at the foot of my bed, the way you ask me to let you outside after dinner. I love the way your fur feels on my face and the way only half of your tail wags when you are happy. You always know when I am sad and you also know laying on my feet makes me happy. I know in my heart that you understand just how much I love you. I am also aware that you know it wont be long until you are gone. I secretly wish you could read this and know my heart is already breaking at the thought of ever having to say goodbye.
I love you buddy…..