In Praise of Elder Dogs

This blog is created in celebration of the elder dogs, of any breed, who've touched our hearts. You are invited to add your own reflections, or, if you wish, track the progress of your own elder dogs. ("Elder," BTW, is defined here as 10 years or more, except in breeds known for shorter lifespans, such as the Great Dane.) Send your stories and photos to me at branta(at)

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Location: Hunt, Texas, United States

I've been privileged to share my life with five unforgettable Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. This blog was inspired by Cooper, my first, whose indominatable bright spirit triumphed over his limitations. Every day of his life, till the very end, he woke joyously, happy to greet the day. I would wish the same for all of us!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Nope, it wasn't!

SO THIS WASN'T THE DAY FOR COOPER TO DIE. I spent much of the day, after his bath, holding him on my lap, swaddled in thick, soft towels. I gave him half a Rimadyl. He slept. As we left for the vet shortly before 4:00 p.m., I wasn't sure we would be bringing him back -- he still couldn't support his weight on his front legs. It seemed as if all systems would fail, one at a time, and we'd likely be bereaved by evening.

I carried him into the vet's office. The vet checked him over, suspected something spinal, listened to a late-onset, Grade 6 heart murmur that roars like Niagra Falls, issued him a new supply of thyroid meds, authorized an increase in his Rimadyl dosage, and then wrote a prescription for his sister's seizure medicine. We talked some ... and as we were finishing up, Cooper raised himself on his front legs, stood up an all four -- and walked!

This, the very same dog who did such a good imitation of Death Warmed Over this morning. This, the dog who not only could not walk, but could not even stand, gave brief thought to chasing a cat, but stopped adbruptly when his back legs wouldn't follow the front ones and he sank to the floor. This, the dog who could not rise from his bed this morning to claim a speck of his beloved Gorgonzola, but strolled into the kitchen tonight and asked, "So where's my dinner?"

I remember the last time I'd carried Cooper into the vet's office, how tenderly the vet took him from me and how tenderly he carried him back into the examining room. You can say what you want about Texas, but there are gracious, loving people here, and we are grateful for every one of them.

And once again, I'm reminded of Cooper's indefatigable bright spirit. And once again, of the importance of not burying anyone till they're dead.


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