Monday, November 04, 2013


Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. 

I have had dogs my whole life.  Most of the dogs my family had were working dogs and stayed outside. 

The man and I had two dogs, one we rescued as a two year old and one the man had when we met.  Both of these dogs were outside dogs during the day.

On Mother’s Day 2008, we went to Farmer Dave’s to pick up some feeder pigs.  He just happened to have puppies for sale also.  #2 son and daughter begged for a puppy and when I said no they said it could be a mothers day gift for me…like I needed more work to do!  We were living in a 12 travel trailer at the time while finishing the house. I put my foot down and said no...until I looked and fell head over heels for a little red ball of fur with huge paws and long ears.  He would try walking, step on his ears and fall over.  That was it, he was mine.  He was a red bone coon dog.  

                                             Irresistible puppy

Then he proceeded to cry the whole ride home making me rethink my decision.  While living in the travel trailer we would put the other dogs in a shed at night.  The new puppy, Cooper, however was too tiny for that.  Of course the square footage of the trailer with four people left little room for him so someone would lift him up on the bed so he didn’t get stepped on.

Because he was raised with a cat he could never become a hunting dog.  Cats and coons have similar scents.  This fit him just fine as he was more a dog of leisure than work...he didn’t even like getting his paws dirty!  The valley however did hear plenty of his howls while playing outside.  The outside play had to be during the day since he didn’t like the dark.  The man once went out in the dark to scare #2 daughter who was walking up from my mom’s with Cooper.  The man jumped out, #2 screamed and Cooper went running toward the house and his mommy!

Seven months after his arrival we moved into the house and all the dogs moved in also.  The older two had been trained never to go on the furniture but Cooper knew no such restraints.  His two favorite spots were on the bed by my feet or if you sat on the sofa the front half of him was in your lap.  As he grew slightly large (159 lbs) this could get painful. Then we got a new sofa he wasn’t allowed on so he would push a 2 ½ foot cushioned hassock across the room and lay on top of it in front of the wood stove.  Lying on the floor was for dogs and he did not consider himself to be one.

This is because #1 daughter (she is a cat person) use to tell him that he was so ugly his mother gave him away on Mother’s Day.  This broke my heart so I would whisper in his ear that he was a big sexy man dog!  I think it went to his head!  He was my constant companion.  If I was sitting and he wanted my attention he would walk up and just lay his head on my boobs and  just stare at me.  If you stayed up late he would whine until you came to bed.  When the man came home from work and went to hug me, Cooper would bark until we broke apart and knelt down to include him in the hug.

He was a character.  If you picked up his big ears and rubbed underneath he purred like a cat.  Cooper and I use to serenade the man all the time much to the man’s dismay!  If we left home Cooper would sleep on the bed until he heard the car.  Then you could hear him whine/bark and run toward the door.  Fifteen people could walk in before me and he would ignore them all and wait for me.  No matter how close the man and I slept if Cooper wanted attention during the night he would step on us then lay down between us.  Then he would roll a little to spoon with me and “fork” (push with his paws) the man which made me giggle each time.  The man got even by teaching him to walk between your legs from behind to get his chest scratched ….I am short  and he about threw me a couple of times.  

                                With #1 son getting scratches

He would eat the Nanking cherries and thornless blackberries off the plants but would bark and wait for me to pick him the red raspberries!  Both front and kitchen gated porches had the screen doors fixed so they didn’t fully latch so he could enter and exit at his convenience.

Over the years we lost the other dogs, first Shadow (age 20) and then last October Digger (age 14) died. 

Hindsight being 20/20 I should have noticed that Cooper didn’t come outside with me as often this summer, that he tended to just stay curled up on the bottom of the bed.  I thought it was the heat. I would walk down the hall and pet/scratch him and then go on about my day.  If I had a migraine and laid down he would come curl up beside me.  But other than that I was busy… the garden, the canning, driving the kids….until he didn’t eat his breakfast one Saturday morning and then peed on the floor, something he had never done even as a puppy.  The vet was closing but called in a prescription and an appointment was made for Monday. 

Coopers urine sample stated he had a UTI and the meds continued for 10 days.  During those days and a little after he got better, played more and ate.  Then he started to go downhill again, lethargic and not eating so back to the vet we went.  A blood test was done and he was in kidney failure from lyme disease, the toxin levels were so high they were off the charts.  The man had taken him in and opted to give it the one shot we had which was to give IV’s. 

                               Waiting on the man to come home

 For over a week we would sit with Cooper 6 hours a day while we administered the IV drip.  Once he chewed the port out and another trip to the vet was made to put in a new one.  The next visit showed his toxin levels going down.  The drip was stopped with the hope that his kidneys would kick in and do their job.  If they didn’t then too much damage had already been done.  We brought him home so hopeful.  Several days passed and he was acting better but still picky about his food.  Then he started full speed downhill.  So on Thursday we held him as the vet put him to sleep.  We brought him home and buried him with his toys in the back yard.  Even the neighbors missed him and brought him bouquets of flowers for his grave.

The house feels so empty without his big butt blocking the hall way or keeping my feet warm.  I feel his loss more than I did the other dogs because he was all mine.  He had no other owner and was so in tuned to me. From the morning alarm to climbing back into bed at night he was such an integral part of our lives and he will be so sorely missed that it is physically painful. I use to think that people who cloned their pets were weird but if I could have him back exactly as he was and I had the money I would do it in a heartbeat.  #1 daughter sent me this poem and all I can do is hope to see him again someday.

 My best friend closed his eyes today,
As his head was in my hand.
The Doctors said he was in no pain,
But it was hard for him to stand.
The thoughts that scurried through my head,
As I cradled him in my arms.
Were of his young puppy years,
And OH...his many charms.
Today, there was no gentle nudge
With an intense "I love you gaze",
Only a heart that's filled with tears
Remembering our joy filled days.
But an Angel just appeared to me,
And he said, "You should cry no more,
GOD also loves our canine friends,
He's installed a 'doggy-door"!

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