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.
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.
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.
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.