The saddest of goodbyes…

This weekend was absolutely heartbreaking. The time came for me to make the decision to let my dog, Cooper go. He has been overly aggressive for a few years, but that was mostly all directed at my ex-boyfriend when we would fight. If I ever raised my voice, or if he sensed me getting stressed, Cooper would think he had to protect me from whoever was near causing it. Unfortunately, my ex picked fights regularly, so this became normal behavior for Cooper. The vet always said it was something in his “wiring” that made him have an insane bond with me that caused this need to protect. Until last year, he had never turned on me before. On that day, I woke him to give him his morning medicine, as I did each morning before work. This time though, out of nowhere he lunged at me and ripped my hands and arm open, and tore out a vein in my wrist in the process. I had to be rushed to the hospital, and the amount of blood loss was concerning. After some reconstruction and MANY stitches in numerous locations, I was able to go home. Despite our past and being broken up, my ex-boyfriend came to be with me when I got home. As he laid in bed holding me, Cooper came and laid next to us and I could tell that he knew he had done wrong and was sorry. He literally put his paws around my bandaged and braced arm and slept with his head down on it.

Regardless of people’s unsolicited opinions and our vet at the time urging me to put him down, I made the decision not to. I chose to find him a better vet instead. One that would actually listen to me and help with his issues. The new vet placed him on the meds he needed to calm his anxiety, stress and aggression. Over the last year, he was like a new dog. But as old age has set in over the last few months, he has become blind and more agitated. The growl and snarling threats became more frequent, and I knew it was time to make the decision before one of my kids get hurt, or I do again. I finally called the vet one morning last month to tell her it was time, but when they answered, I chickened out and just asked to make him a grooming appointment. Last week though, he showed me himself that it was time. His blindness was clearly becoming a day-to-day struggle for him, his Bulldog skin issues became suddenly out of control and not treatable, and he even started isolating himself by going to his kennel and sleeping the days away. He has been stuck to my side and under my feet since he was a puppy, even spending each night spooning me as I sleep. So this was completely out of character for him.

I managed to find the strength to call the vet and ask to bring him in. I wanted to take him to the beach to walk around and jump in the waves that morning beforehand, but he wasn’t having it when I tried waking him. So, when he finally got up that morning, I let him go out in the yard for a bit, then let him indulge in his favorite snack…an entire bag of Cheetos. We spent some time as a family with him, and then the time came for our appointment. I loaded him in the car as I bawled my eyes out. He was so excited for the car ride and oblivious to what was happening. When I got to the vet with him, I couldn’t go in. I just sat in my car crying and cuddling him. I told him repeatedly that I loved him and that I was so sorry. I finally took him inside, but I lost it at the front desk. The tech came around the desk and just hugged me until I could get it together. We went back to a room and Cooper was so excited to see all the techs and doctor. Which was weird, because he usually doesn’t let them near him. I held him in my lap on the floor as they put in his IV and a sedative, and then they left to give me some time alone with him. When it was time, they returned and Cooper got aggressive with them. So, I got back down on the floor and held him like a baby in my arms and he calmed immediately. I hadn’t planned on holding him through the process, but before I knew it, the doctor was on the floor with us and began administering the sequence of meds in his IV. There I was holding my dog, my baby, my best friend, and feeling him pass away in my arms. I couldn’t bare to leave him afterwards. I sat there on the floor with his lifeless body, rocking him and crying for a while before leaving him with the tech. As traumatic as it turned out to be for me to go through that in that manner, I’m glad that he was comforted by my arms, voice and kisses as he passed.

Cooper was my heart. I bought him when he was 9 weeks old, after someone very dear to me, had gone away. Cooper got me through that heartache and was there for me through every upset thereafter. He knew when I needed him, and he never let me down or left me. If he ever heard me crying, he immediately came to lay with me or sit by me and threw himself over me. When I was in the hospital after he attacked me, my then manager, called my daughter and asked her if they could go and have him put down before I got home. My daughter swiftly told her not to dare, and that I loved that dog probably more than my kids. She was being sarcastic of course. But the truth is, he was my kid too and I loved him as such. The heartbreak, the emptiness, and the sadness that is consuming me, is like nothing I’ve felt before. I’d rather have gone through the pain of a hundred more breakups, than to have lost Cooper and feel this kind of anguish. I’ve had so many dogs throughout my life, but this boy was my heart and soul.

No longer by my side or at my feet, but furever in my heart you’ll be! Thank you for being the best dog/friend I could’ve ever asked for, sweet boy. See you at the rainbow bridge.

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