This story starts Thanksgiving Day.
We took Cooper and Violet hiking in a nearby nature preserve. We wanted to burn off Coop’s energy before we left for Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s, plus burn off a few preemptive calories before all the pies.
Turns out, every other person and pup in central Indiana felt the same way. Every trail we took, we encountered dog after dog after dog. Which, as you know, Cooper doesn’t handle well. John had Violet in the backpack, and I had Coop on his harness. The squeeze cheese worked for a while, so did u-turns and forks and circling back and zig-zags and just outright stopping while we waited for dogs to pass us by. But, of course, he reached maximum threshold at some point way in the back of the preserve, so it was a lot of pulling, lunging, and barking until we got back to the car. I ended up just running him back–he focuses way better when he’s running–though my shoulder ached by the time I loaded him into the car.
Such is life with a stressed-out, reactive pup, right?
You plan. You prepare. You manage. But, we can’t control other dogs and their owners. Unfortunately.
The next day, we decide to get our Christmas tree. We ran some errands, then stopped at the library to let Violet play. A block from the library, the Girl Scouts sell trees each year for a fundraiser, so we planned to hit the coffee shop on our way, then pick out a tree and head home. As we loaded Violet into the car, she looked up into my eyes and said, “Pooped.”
So, we decided to do the tree later and just head straight home. We put her down for a nap and thought we might as well clean the house before we decorated anyways, so that’s what we did. And, since my darling daughter tends to huck her plate when she gets frustrated, that included scrubbing down the walls and cabinets in the kitchen.
It was then, at some point when I was scraping dried milk off the baseboards, I felt a twinge. Just a small little tweak across my lower back. Not a big deal. Just a little ache.
The day continued: My sister came over to watch Violet so we could finish some errands. She stayed for dinner. We missed getting the tree but were ready to throw ourselves into full-blown Christmas Saturday morning!
And then… in the wee hours of Saturday, like 1:30 AM, I woke up with the worst back pain ever. Like, enough to draw tears. It took me ages and ages to stand up, to slink my way out of the bedroom and into the living room. I had it in my head that if I could just stretch out on the floor, I’d be OK.
Cooper popped out of bed, of course, and came with me. He watched me. He sat in his chair in the living room and stared at me. Unblinking. He just stared.
Well, turns out, I was wrong. Once I got on the floor, it was worse by significant degrees. But then I couldn’t get up. At all. I tried shifting, rolling, scootching to the cabinet to pull myself up. Nada. Not happening.
So, I turned to Cooper, my beloved pup who stays by my side every day no matter what, and I said, “Cooper, go get John.”
He looked at me.
“Coop. Please. Get Papa.”
“OK, bubba. I’m dying here. I need help. Go. Get. John.”
He jumped down from his chair, walked over, sniffed my face, and then curled up alongside me and rested his head on my belly.
I couldn’t move.
He got comfortable.
John found me two hours later in tears and cursing in the loudest whisper I could muster. (This whole time, you guys, I didn’t want to wake Violet. I knew that would make everything way, way worse…)
Cooper, though? Sound asleep by my side.
Is my dog basically Lassie?
No. No, he’s not.