My dog Cooper has been my companion for almost 10 years. I read once, in “Guideposts” where a woman described having a ‘soul connection’ with her dog. I feel this deeply with Coop. I have had 2 babies in the last 4 years and perhaps Cooper has not received what he was used to in past years. Perhaps life has not been quite as full. I cannot remember the last time he received a McDonald’s ice cream cone and tonight this shames me to my core. Tonight, Tiny 1 and 2 went to bed with their father and I stayed up and relished the quiet. Cooper was my companion as his furry brother beds down with my boys.
I decided to take Cooper for a walk instead of just one last trip outside for the night. Now, Cooper is mostly deaf and his back legs are weak and now bent at an angle from severe arthritis. His joints are swollen and he wears non skid socks that I replenish roughly once per month because he cannot get up without them. His walks are limited. When I entered the living room with his leash, he struggled eagerly to get up. His excitement was obvious and I marveled at his optimism. No pain or lameness would get in his way! His walks are, at most, around the block. Tonight, I thought, let’s walk on the other side of the street. His tail wagged the entire time. I let him sniff every mystery in the grass. He had a spring in his step. He was a hunter once again. I walked sobbing, watching this animal who has my heart completely. This beautiful, earnest and loving dog who is in pain most of the time, enjoyed the moment given to him. There are so many times when aging terrifies me. Most days, I think of the unfairness Cooper has been given in aging. Tonight, I learned a lesson from this strong beast of mine. He accepts what is given to him and finds joy in simplicity. The act of crossing the street filled him with energy and enthusiasm. I am in awe of the beauty and grace of this sweet animal. Thank you my big bear.