Guyte McCord Park

Cooper has taken up trailblazing, unusual for just-content-to-be-Cooper but Guyte McCord Park —an environmentally sensitive hideaway of creeks, ponds, and bridges—brings out the explorer in everyone. In the last few days, however, Cooper and I discovered a different trail, the one that ends at the Rainbow Bridge. I recognized it right away, and I’m marking our every step.

Eleventh Birthday 011812

Cooper has disc disease—some liver issues as well–there are meds to keep him comfortable so he has time before he crosses his last bridge. Even as an older dog of eleven, Cooper has enjoyed reasonably good health, other than taking a daily Pepcid for most of this last year. Essentially, Cooper views the world in terms of how edible it is, often deciding to take a chance. This lifelong habit seems to have caught up with him.

Appropriately, his previous owner named him Snoop but it was his handsome gait that captured my eye so I searched for a name that rhymed with Snoop and came up with Cooper. He honestly took to it, as if no longer being called Snoop could gloss over his goat-like tendencies. Cooper has always relied on subterfuge—sometimes enlisting his lifelong partner, feline EmmaRose—my rather distracted way of going through life has been a pure positive for him.

Lifelong Partners

With every animal that enters my life—especially the old ones now that I, too, am old—it feels as if we were made for each other but being older is better in so many ways. It means we dispense with the silliness of youth that plagues almost every species, and we concentrate on what matters: food, naps as necessary, “bye-bye in the car.”

Every time Cooper hears those words, joy just fills him, especially his happy ears;  one darts sideways and curls just as the other shoots straight up to flap over. Who knew joy could be like that. I’ve never captured it on camera for I cannot say the words to him without meaning them nor can I make him wait after I’ve said them.

Cooper goes everywhere with me, not much of an exaggeration, for if Cooper can’t go where I’m going, I truly consider whether I want to go. Often, I don’t go. To be honest, most of my social activity is online as my own physical activity is restricted, yet my reclusive human nature is well suited to animal life, especially canines and felines.

As long as Cooper can go along for the ride, he’s happy wherever we go. A stroll in the park is a bit more of a bonus than going to the grocery store but first and foremost, he just loves to ride in the car. Cooper would ride across the panhandle of Florida every day, with infrequent potty breaks. It might be the only time where food would not be a priority…it means that much to him.

Cooper watches the world one window at a time; these days, he rides in the back of  my Toyota Scion. When he could still ride in the passenger seat, he’d sometimes put his paw on my hand. I miss that but to keep him riding, I use his dog ramp, which makes it so easy for him to walk up and into the back of the car. With the back seat down, he has a comforter, pillows and a small bed, which he rearranges from time to time.

Conversational Cooper

We listen to classical music, which suits us both, as it allows conversation, although we don’t converse a lot. Mostly, I try to remember where we’re going or what I need to pick up at the store because my  list is still on the pad of paper. Sometimes, vocalizing items helps, often not. Cooper is always ready to respond with his brown Beagle eyes—I’m learning to look for them in the rearview mirror—he’s mostly mystified that any being could go on so but he is quite capable of relaying, “what were you thinking?”

Infrequently, Cooper initiates a conversation. He’s one for tonal nuance, that Cooper, so I am mindful of my tone, not so much with what I say. I have heard him bark just once, in response to an unusually harsh rapping at the front door, but Cooper was abashed by his behavior, as if he never meant to let that happen. We’ve never discussed it.

Like any canine, Cooper lives life moment to moment, adjusting, always ready to ride. It is comforting that he will have a long last ride to Second Chance Farms when the Rainbow Bridge is the only bridge we have left. But in this moment, he is sleeping, snuggled against me, and we are as we have always been.

ROW80 Wednesday Word Marking:

From January 2 until February 4, my goal was to write 250 words per day—as blog posts, fiction, or nonfiction–for an approximate total of 8250 words.

Beginning February 4, I started the “30-minute” stretch in which I write for 30 minutes. So far, that has generated just over 9,300 words, averaging about 900 words a day and now the writing is for longer than 30 minutes. It still takes care of the mind minutia so my other writing is more focused. I am still “keeping” between 250 and 300 words beyond those 900, which means with ROW80, I am just over 20, 300 words. For me, these numbers are really something.

15 thoughts on “Trailblazing

  1. I very much enjoyed reading about Cooper. How you write about him reminds me of my “little old man” that I had for 12 years. He was five when he came to me. I loved him with all my heart. He passed a few years back and I miss the weight of him in my lap. He was a 6 lb silky and that was his favorite place to be.

    I feel like you took me on a journey with you and Cooper. Thank you.

    I am so happy for all the writing you are doing; fantastic job!

    I hope you have a lovely weekend with your Cooper.



    1. Most thoughtful words, Morgan, as usual. Isn’t it amazing how pet memories never really fade but truly become part of us. Maybe that’s what unconditional love really means. Thank you for coming along with Cooper and me. It’s nice.

      Although posting twice a week for ROW80 is challenging, making the commitment to check-ins as well as keeping a general word count provides structure for my writing and blogging. Not generally one for numbers, I am a bit surprised. Actually, you inspired my 30 minute writing sprints–just didn’t want to write online–thanks so much!

      Write on, Morgan!


    1. Thanks for the writing encouragement, Yolanda! You are absolutely correct in that consistency is key; ROW80 is really helping me in that regard. Hope you stop by again.


  2. This post makes me feel very misty, Karen — I’m remembering the dogs I’ve loved so much … especially the two graced me through their twilight passage with them. What a gift Cooper is for you!! And I adore his sweet relationship with Emma Rose! Not to mention those ears! – who can help but smile at those great ears?! Your writing captures Coop’s essence, my friend — well done!!! Much love, Lura


    1. Oh, Lura, he is such a gift; always, my friend, you go to the heart of the matter. I decided to write about him now so when I read about him later, I have the moment forever. He is such a happy heart with most unusual ears, yet another meaning of joy. Feel better my friend and again, happy birthday.
      Much love,


  3. Unfortunately, a job has kept me from your blog these past few weeks, but blissfully, I find there are several waiting. This post, like all of your writing, is beautifully written. I feel your large and gentle heart. And although I’ve never met Cooper, you’ve introduced him so well, I feel I’ve known his expressive brown eyes my whole life.

    Keep adding to your impressive word count. We happily anticipate each word.


    1. So glad to hear from you, my friend. I know you’ve been quite busy and hope the job was all you wanted it to be. Of course, thanks for the loving words about “my boy,” as you know what that means to me. His happy heart is extraordinary; he brightens any day.

      Also appreciate your words about my writing as you are one to trust in that regard. That word count is even beginning to impress me; no doubt, it’s because I now read blog stats…unbelievably.

      Good to hear from you.


  4. Cooper is delightful. My golden, Gabe is very similar, smiling all the time. He turned 13 this year and still smiles and begs to go walking, almost dancing when we get out the leash but I know his day is drawing near not because he’s showing symptoms yet, just that he’s 13. He is a great friend to me.


  5. This is such a beautiful story about Cooper, who I feel like I know from our chats. You have brought a tear to my eye, but a happiness to my heart knowing that his later life has been full of happiness with such a caring Doggie Mommy.
    Keep up the beautiful writing, you are so amazing!


    1. Thanks so much, my friend. As always, your words mean a great deal to me. I wanted to write this post while we were still having fun, and he is so expressive. Thanks for encouraging my writing and me.


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