Those of you who follow me on Twitter may know that my dogs health has been a roller coaster ride over the past year. There were many times I thought the end had come for him but he seemed to miraculously recover and come out looking better and healthier than ever. This time is different, he is truly at the end of the road. I’ll spare you the details but I wanted to tell you all about my amazing dog Cooper and all that he has meant to me over the past 11+ years.
Cooper was a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab cross who was picked up by the Surrey SPCA in the spring of 2001 after roaming the streets of Whalley and Guildford. They moved him the the Vancouver branch of the SPCA as it seemed no one in Surrey wanted such a big dog. When I met Cooper he was the only dog in the shelter that wasn’t a Rottweiler or a Pitbull, he was the only dog who didn’t lunge at me when I approached his kennel. They figured he was roughly 1 year old as he was fully grown (around 100lbs) and his teeth were very clean.
Cooper came home with us later that day and somehow we found out he knew some hand signals, he had obviously been someone’s dog and had escaped which we would find out very shortly he was incredibly good at. Our vet figured he was a guard dog for a grow op and he was very leery of men, all men except for me for the first few weeks. Repeated attempts at crate training simply proved he could escape from a crate, keeping him in the garage while we went to work proved that he could open a garage door, he was like Houdini. On more than one occasion I came home to find a note on my door from Surrey By-law Enforcement officers saying they had chased Cooper all over Fleetwood only to follow him home, watch him open the garage door and disappear back into the house where they couldn’t get to him.
After that he earned the spot of ruler of the house. No more garage, no more crate, he could sleep on the couch all day without a care in the world. Cooper also had the ability to leap a 6 foot tall fence without needing a running start. We found this out while in Lake Chelan, Washington where we were visiting some friends. We had left Cooper in the big fenced back yard as I thought he’d be happier there. Turns out he was happier jumping the fence and running all over the hills outside Chelan. He always came back though, always. The last time he ran away was almost 2 years ago to the day. It was the day we brought Hayley, our daughter, home from the hospital. Our friend Doug found him playing with some kids in his favourite park.
We went for our last 3 walks yesterday afternoon, last night and this morning. We visited all of his favourite places in our neighbourhood, the park behind Frost Road Elementary School, the field behind Surrey Christian School, Doug’s driveway, he had a dump on the lawn of the house down the street, I’m sure that guy will miss him a lot (sometimes I forgot to bring a bag). I made him steak and roasted potatoes for dinner and let him lay with me on the couch. He had scrambled eggs, sausage and toast for breakfast this morning.
Cooper was with me through a lot of big moments in my life, a divorce, 9/11, many career changes, the birth of my daughter, he has always been a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear to complain to, a crazy dance party companion and a best friend. He passed away peacefully in my arms today at 12:07 at Newton Animal Hospital. I stayed with him for half an hour after he was gone and told him I loved him, petted him and cried. I’ll be taking him up to Green Lake, near 70 Mile House, it was his favourite place and he deserves to spend eternity there. I miss you already buddy. If you have pets you understand, if you don`t have pets I can`t describe it, it`s a helpless feeling. Sorry to bum you guys out, I just needed to tell you about him.