Sometimes when I see someone walking their dog down the sidewalk, I watch the dog’s tail swish around happily, head bobbing, taking in all the sniffs. I see dogs stop to greet other people and other dogs out on their walks, or–even better–I see dogs walk past and ignore other people and other dogs out on their walks, and I feel jealous.
Oh, to love a dog who can walk down the street in a calm (even happy!) manner. To stroll the neighborhood without my head on a swivel, spotting and assessing who or what’s ahead and rerouting as necessary. To go to the park and not have to wait in the car until the coast is clear to unload the pup.
None of those things are Cooper, though. They’re just not. And that’s really, truly OK. We love him so thoroughly, quirks and all, that we’re more than willing to adjust our habits and our walks and our routines to make sure he’s happy. Of course we are.
Even though he makes me nuts sometimes, I’m so grateful for Cooper and everything that makes him him.
I found myself frustrated with him the other day because I feel like we’ve plateaued in his training and maybe even back-slid a bit. For a long while, he was OK with people out and about as long as they didn’t have dogs with them and as long as there wasn’t something startling (like getting out of a car right in front of him or, you know, sneezing). Recently, though, he’s started to react to people who talk to us when we’re out, even from afar.
For example, there’s this lady at the end of our block who’s going through chemo, and she’s started this big flower garden in the front of her yard along the sidewalk. Clearly it’s therapeutic for her because she’s often out there working in the dirt, or I’ll go by after a couple days and there’s a whole new patch of flowers planted. Last week, we happened to be out for our walk when she was happily working in her garden. I commented to her how beautiful it was, and she replied–I have no idea what she said though because as soon as she started talking, Coop barked his face off at her. Cue embarrassed wave, mumbled “sorry,” jog away…
I steamed for the rest of our walk. Why can’t he keep his shit together?
Then we got home. He sipped some water. He let the baby climb into his bed. He kissed her cheek.
He followed me up to my office, swishing his tail. He settled behind my desk, and every time I looked at him or talked to him, he’d lift his head. Wag. Scootch closer to me.
He’s my guy, through and through. He’s a family guy. He adores the kitties. He adores friends and family who come over and pet him. He adores the baby. He loves being home. He just is a homebody. He loves laying in the yard and watching the birds. He listens so well and behaves so well at home. He comes when he’s called.
Sure, I wish he could relax and enjoy life outside the house a little more. I feel like he’d get to go so many more places with us and do so many more things, but that’s just not him. And, I’m so grateful for all the things that make him him.
My best friend lost her dog recently. It was an unexpected, sudden, fluke tragedy. My heart is broken for her family, and I miss his easy smile. He was a good boy.
Their lives are too short already. Being cut even shorter is astronomically unfair.
I think about Cooper and all the things that make him Cooper, and I think about him turning eight this summer (EIGHT!), and I’m just so grateful for having him grace my life. I’ve learned more from Cooper than I realized possible–another post for another day, perhaps–and he’s changed my perspective on everything from health and wellness to perseverance.
Yes, we still see other dogs walking nicely on leash in public places, and we turn to each other and say, “Wouldn’t it be nice…”
But then it wouldn’t be Cooper, and Cooper isn’t perfect, but he’s perfectly ours.