In the Moment

Reading up on Ramps

Cooper and I are ramping up—and down–our daily outings.

As always, he is unruffled when being requires an expansion of our routine.  If I am honest, my “Beagle Boy” is an exemplar of being, a trait that has run strong in the beagles I have known and one to which I aspire.

Cooper is progressing through another aging phase as his vertebral disks join his joints in degenerating—it is a condition we share–heightened by the dripping, Florida humidity that hails spring’s slide into summer, silent but steady. It is a fully body experience for both of us.

A week ago, Cooper’s front legs gave way as he stumbled, searching for a way to stay standing. His back legs held while both front legs were indecisive when it came to a simultaneous up or down.

We had not met this moment before.

Cooper kept calm—clearly, an anthropomorphic observation on my part–for an animal’s survival instinct is to cloak injury or weakness. I like to think I played my part in the deception as I kept talking in a tone he knows.

The moment seemed to require it.

Most of Cooper’s vocal responses are like a lilt, whether as a question, agreement, or his observations irrespective of mine. Infrequently, he sighs a low, gravelly moan that seems to signify resignation as well as contentment.

In this moment on the ground, however, he offered no comment.

Rather, he focused on breathing that was not panting, and I found myself breathing with him. We were in no hurry as we were within the confines of our apartment complex, and we had a sunset if we needed it, which we didn’t. Eventually, Cooper’s legs found themselves and a familiar rhythm, although forever changed.

For awhile, we confined ourselves to the area just outside our apartment, which is woefully inadequate. A day without an outing to a park or at least a ride in the car is like a day that never seems to start, as if we are willing to let it pass us by. Admittedly, that is how it feels to me, but if I read Cooper’s keening correctly, he concurs.

He is his own beagle, a definite advantage in being, as is having a portable canine ramp.

Can I Drive?

Cooper has always used the ramp to stroll onto our adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed, which sits too high for any access with ease. The ramp is also adjustable, shrinking to half its size and sporting a side carrying handle.

With medication and rest, Cooper stabilized. We moved into our next moment.

I carried the ramp outside and secured it while Cooper “waited” just inside the apartment door, trusting in the fact that he was wearing his harness, which was actually attached to his leash–both good signs. Yet ever aware, he kept his nose to the door, only backing off to let me proclaim that “bye-bye” was a go–Beagle Boy found his grin, again.

Even with disk disease and deteriorating joints, Cooper strives for the handsome gait that has all but left him. In seeing his ramp with his car for the first time, he took that in stride as well—allowing me to guide him in—bearing the grace of the being he is.

Once in the car, I buckled us into our seats.  With hand and paw on the gear shift, we moved into yet another moment.

For those of you who want to follow my ROW80 progress, you may view it here.

19 thoughts on “In the Moment

  1. You and Cooper are a match made in heaven. I’m not one bit surprised that he would have something like that happen to him and within a short time be ready for his Bye-Bye. “Oh Look Mom, my ramp is out here waiting for me to enter the car now, that will be a fun new game and quite handy”. Somehow you have found Mr. Cooper has the same outlook as I see in you, if it doesn’t work one way, try another. You truly are an amazing person. Hugs to Cooper, EmmaRose and Karen!


  2. I have, as part of my newsfeed on Facebook, the Urgent Part 2 rescue list for animals that are on death row, usually in NYC. A lot of these dogs are young pitbulls whom have been maligned so much by society, often battered and terrified at losing the only homes they have ever known…some are strays. And on occasion, there is a senior citizen, no matter the breed… People have surrendered these loving animals either because their owner has died and no one wishes to take them in, or because the thought of medical care is too much.

    I spend a lot of time crying over my newsfeed, realizing that it’s not just these dogs whose souls are suffering, but our universal “human spirit”. We are defined not solely by the buildings or the science or even the art… We are defined, I think, most by the way we love, accept each other, and give of ourselves. And not just other humans….

    *shakes head* I’m sure you know all about this, Karen.

    I’m glad you’ve had Cooper, and Gumby and intend to take on rescues as long as you can. Our form of rescue animal is cats because of the Boodle’s fear of dogs, but giving homes to those who love and need to share love means a lot to me.

    (PS: saw your check-in… glad for the every day writing, and the fact you are regaining your fiction eyes…I am happy for you.)


  3. We have an aging Australian cattle dog (my vote for best breed ever–smart and empathetic). A shelter dog she came into the family at about two to be a companion to my dad. When he died in 2007 she moved across the street to live with us. She grieved almost as long and hard as we did. In fact, a good three years after his death when a van identical to his pulled into the yard she went crazy, barking and circling.

    We never do the math on Moo but we’ve had her a long long time (she could be as old as fifteen). The dog longevity record is held by a Blue Heeler (the other name for her breed). Bluey died at 29, but sadly that was not typical for the breed whose life expectancy is more like…well…fifteen.

    Still, we hope and encourage. “Beat Bluey, Moo. You can do it!”


    1. Gumby, the beagle who allowed me to have my picture taken with her, mourned her former owner, maybe until she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He had white hair, was tall and his eyes–the color varied–revealed his heart. Even when she was nearly blind, Gumby would find such a man if he were in our proximity, although his scent never matched the one she sought. Always, she guided our walks. I discovered her love of opera and classical music and every day we listened–still do. Oh, and she was partial to blue pickups that smelled of hay and horses. Like Cooper, she was eleven, maybe older, maybe.

      Go, Moo!



  4. Hi Karen and Cooper, Just wondered if your Vet has suggested Hills Prescription J/D for joints. It helped my dog Zack immensely when he started having a hard time. I also gave him for treats the dog food in a tube from PetSmart that I can’t remember the name of. It isn’t the Natural Balance brand. I do remember it was green and white. The one I am thinking of has glucosamine and chondroitin with all natural ingredients. He loved it. When I ran out of the special J/D food I could see a noticeable difference in how he moved and made sure I got it for him again.

    Love to read about the journeys the two of you have. I am sending much love and healing for his dear aging bones.

    P.S. If I gave you this info before, I apologize. My brain/mind isn’t what it used to be. 🙂


    1. Hey, Morgan!

      As Cooper has lived an “examined life” for the last twelve years–nothing was too good not to try to eat–he is now enjoying his retirement with a most discerning digestive tract. Thus, Dr. Mac has been extremely creative but confined in treating his disk/joint issues as his sensitive stomach tolerates little now. We are aware of the Hills, and I will check at our PetSmart for the other. And no, you had not made the suggestions previously but if you had, there is no guarantee I would remember. Your suggestions are truly appreciated.

      In his own way, Cooper is the “poster boy” for rescuing elderly dogs who are still curious, still loving, still so alive.



  5. elderly dogs – been there many a time- it never gets any better. May you both proceed gently together. He sounds a real character.
    All the best


    1. Hello, Alberta!

      In these last years, I have been fortunate to take in elderly dogs (and now a cat as well) to provide the best retirement I can. It is hard on the heart for only a short time as what the dogs give me lasts a lifetime, as you know. And yes, Cooper finds his way through life no matter what.



  6. Hi Karen,
    Beagles are wonderful friends, with strong voices and personalities. Our collie Seamus has a couple of beagle friends and despite the size difference, they get along well. Seamus is never one to point out that he is several inches taller and a couple of dozen pounds heavier…beagles trump him in the attitude department every time. Thanks for the Cooper update, he sounds like an amazing friend.


    1. Hey, Dorryce!

      Beagles trump most beings when it comes to attitude or so it has been my experience. They are so distinct in their personalities; I know I am drawn to their quirkiness. Cooper is quite the guy and constant companion, one of the best.



    1. Hello, Julia!

      Cooper is also eleven and a rescue dog, along with a six-year-old feline who has been with him since her birth. The pair came to me a about a year and a half ago. As long as I am able, I’ll provide “retirement” for elderly animals until they decide it is time to cross the Rainbow Bridge. Animals teach me so much about the spirit of life; my providing them a home is so little in return. Hugs back at ya!



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