We met on a warm spring day in 2001, you had just finished running and were full of energy and enthusiasm. The type of excitement held solely for those coming down from a runners high! After introductions it appeared immediately as though we would become friends. I couldn’t help but admire your self-confidence, exuberance and ability to charm those you encountered!
Over time we became closer, long walks in the evening, daily runs, outings with the family. When our eldest son was little and sad, you never balked at an opportunity to cheer him up. Good friends will do that and indeed a good friend you had become. A look, a smile, some funny movement or action and our son would laugh, all at your expense. You never minded, when your work was done you always left with that sly smile upon your face. A look that showed you always knew something we didn’t.
And knew something you certainly did, for you have been alongside our children for the last 12 years. Watching them grow, helping with their life changes, attitudes and emotions. I really don’t know what I would have done without your friendship! Like a rock, steadfast and solid your loyalty never wavered. There are times in life when no matter what you do as a father you just cant seem to get through, but you always could. With a calm demeanor, a listening ear, and a warm embrace it was always you bringing things into perspective for their little minds.
So what am I to do now? How do I fill this void you left behind? You have gone and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. You left us all with broken hearts and endless tears. Not for the way you left, or even the fact you had to go, but for our own selfishness. Our own emotional fulfilment. The need to feel your love and to give that love in return. Did I show you enough affection, did I tell you I loved you enough times? I will have to assume yes, as I will never know the true answer.
Yesterday at 7:30pm you took your last breath, heaved your very last sigh, relieving yourself of all the pain you had been carrying inside. You body could no longer handle an enlarged liver, your kidneys ached under the strain and your legs had finally given to the pressure. We couldn’t bear watching you suffer anymore as one step meant seeing you buckle under the strain. You were my wifes dear friend and companion, you were a wonderful friend to our children, and you were my friend. You stood proudly by my side through thick and thin, in the sun and even the rain. Camping trips, fishing, daily outings, hikes, bike rides, you participated in them all. Always a smile on your face! You were amazing!
The day we met, my then girlfriend (future wife) had been running with you, you were her young, handsome little pup. Over the years you became one of the most important parts of our growing family, no longer the sole dog, loved by one, but the much-loved, valued member of 4, then 5, and eventually 6 of us. You have slept upon beds of the frieghtened, laid on feet of the cold, awakened us when something just didn’t seem right outside, and even chased off a coyote looking to enter our backyard. Every Sunday we just knew you were going to catch one of the many Balloons filled with wine country tourists traveling over our house. If you couldn’t catch a balloon, you dang sure were going to chase it away! You took credit for every one that passed over head and out of view. There was a time when your speed matched that of the Jack rabbit, catching one only to let it go! Their wasnt a tire on our property that didn’t bear a marking from your superb aim. When we moved to the ranch you took other dogs under your wing and showed them the way. Blitz misses you now, proof as he laid in your spot last night and would not get up for me this morning.
There are those that say “he was just a dog” but not to us, you were family. It started the day my wife took you in, trained you and made you her very own. Smothering you in the very same love so easily given back to those you accepted into your life. As her family grew, your family grew and it never ended as day after day we always found a way to love you more.
We all miss you Cooper. You are a symbol of our family. I wish I could bring you back for one last hug but I can’t, it was hard seeing you go, it was even harder burying you under the old tree by the pond last night. I wrapped you neatly in one of your favorite comforters and placed you gently upon your pillow. A prayer was said and I cried laying the first bucket of dirt upon you. I hope you like the place we picked, it has a full view of the valley, all the jack rabbits and coyotes but most of all those damn balloons as they pass by every Sunday morning.
May you rest in peace, you were a GREAT dog, the fields of heaven are open just for you. Your work here is done, and for that we love you and thank you….