It’s been a long weekend for our family. Yesterday morning, my aunt had to put down her 11 year old dog Cooper. Coop had been dealing with bladder infections and diabetes lately, but it turned out that she had cancer we didn’t know about. I’ve known Cooper myself for probably 8 years, and boy, am I going to miss her. Cooper was one of those dogs who is just SO excited to see you. She had this full body wriggle that she did that could not disguise her glee. She loved walks, pettings, and food of all shapes, sizes, and flavors.
Skip this paragraph if poop grosses you out. I remember when I first met my now uncle Kurt and his dogs, I wanted him to like me very much. We were all outside throwing a stick for the dogs and Cooper was loving the fetch game. Well, suddenly she took off to take care of business…and couldn’t quite get it done. After an uncomfortable silence, I had to peek and see what was wrong. I could tell she had…ingested something she shouldn’t have. You can’t underestimate my mortification when I had to go grab uncle Kurt and tell him his dog’s poop was stuck. Turns out, she’d nabbed a paper towel from the trash that had been used for bacon that morning and it was on it’s way out. We called her the towel dispenser for a while after that. Come to think of it, a lot of my stories about Cooper involve poop…like the time she stealth pooped in the middle of a dinner party. Sorry to be gross, but that’s what dog stories involve a lot of the time. Their lives are less complicated than ours are, so most of it comes down to basic needs.
Cooper had lots of alias’-Coopus E Dog, Coopus C Dog, Coopy Schmoopy Stinky Poopy…she really answered to anything that was directed her way. I would sing to her when we’d go for walks, and there’s a lot you can rhyme with Cooper. I watched her and her sister Possum a lot when my aunt and uncle would take vacations, and it was never really a chore. They were such good girls, even if they did pull my arms off and make my shins sore when we went for walks. I will remember her chasing me around their basement, their backyard, and then collapsing on the floor for a belly rub once caught. She always wanted to sit wherever you were-even if that meant watching you pee. Goodbye, faithful companion-we’re all going to miss you.
My husband has been pretty involved in a facebook debate tonight about having children, and what privilege it does or does not afford you. I only bring it up because one of his points was that some people have toddlers that wake them up every few hours, and some people have dogs. I would say my ability to accurately hear my dog getting sick at 3 in the morning is the same as that of a parent hearing their baby move around in their crib at the same hour. Having pets is a mostly apples to oranges comparison to having kids, although a lot of the basic needs are the same. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that Foster is probably as smart as your two year old. But there are some benefits and detriments you get from pets that you don’t get from having kids. Pets teach you absolutely unconditional love. Yes, kids do too-but after a certain age, kids will “withhold” their love if they don’t get what they want. Pets don’t do that. They just love you. The down side to having pets is that inevitably, they’re going to pass on before you do. And that squirmy, furry ball of personality is going to leave a hole in your heart when they go. One of my favorite quotes about dogs is that their lives are so short because they start life knowing how to be kind, to love unconditionally, and how to see the good in everyone, so they don’t waste time having to learn those things. Hug your pets, everyone-they could teach us a lot about how to be good people.