Da’ Coopster ……. Continued….

Cooper-new2  

           I’d been sitting in the parking lot with Cooper’s head in my lap when my phone rang.
           I wore the blue-tooth around my ear. “How much time does the Vet give him?” This couldn’t be happening to my Cooper, my favorite playmate at the shelter, my reason for joining this Rescue. I bit my quivering lip.
           “A few weeks. The cancer has spread. We’ve decided to put him to sleep. It’s the only…”
          Her words faded into mumbo jumbo. Put him to sleep? He’s so full of energy. He’s my running buddy. I squinted the harsh Arizona sun out of my eyes. “When?”
“Today. We’re taking him to the dog park and then feeding him some burgers. Then we will take him to the vet and–”
          “–Don’t say it.” If I don’t hear it, then it didn’t happen. Right?
           “I know you love Cooper.” Her voice softened. “It’s time to say goodbye.”
           I clasp myself tighter. “I…err…you see…umm…I can’t…don’t have the ability of saying goodbye.”
         “That’s okay. We’ve called Tina from HomeFurGood Rescue. She’ll be with him till the very end. Till his eyes–”
          “–you called someone else? Someone that doesn’t even know our Coopster?” I splayed my arms.
          “She’s the one we call when any of our dogs are euthanized. She has a way of comforting the animals in their final moments.”
          “What a horribly depressing job. She must be a dark, gloomy soul.” I clasped two fistfuls of my hair.
                                                ****************
            Two days later. I’m walking into the HomeFurGood shelter for picking up Coopers ashes. The receptionist directs me to Tina’s desk. “She’s helping a dog that’s being put to sleep right now. Take a seat, she’ll be in soon.” She motions to a wooden chair.
          I take a seat, cross my legs and rap my fingers on her desk. A short haired woman stares into my eyes from a picture frame. She’s holding a handicapped dog in the picture close to her chest. Her nametag reads Tina. N. She has a warm smile that makes even the crow’s feet around her eyes appealing.”
        OK so she’s young and pretty…and happy. But she must be a depressed ‘in the closet’ lesbian. I pick up a plastic clip from her desk with a small tube attached to it.
“Mr. Sandhu. I see that you found my special Euthanasia tube.” She flashes her pearly whites and extends her long fingers towards me.
       I drop the tube and rub my hands clean. The tube falls to the floor with the yellow smiley face tag facing up. I shake her warm and soft hand. Then I rub my palm on my shirt.
     “I see that death bothers you.”
     “I love dogs way too much and don’t have the heart of watching them die.”
      “So you close your eyes. Did you ever consider Cooper’s passing from his point of view? You refused to be with him–”
     “–You don’t know Cooper. He was my favorite dog.” I touch my heart. “You see hundreds of dogs die every day. They’re all the same to you. You don’t know the first thing about Cooper–”
      “–I don’t know the first thing about him. But I know the last.” She crosses her arms. “I snuggled next to him on the soft Sherpa blanket. He ate a Frosty Paws ice-cream I brought him. Then he nuzzled my hand so I gave him a second one. I kissed him between his eyes and whispered stories about how when he gets to heaven he should look out for Speedy, the Dobie who is the keeper of the gates. To seek out Mi Corazon and Sarge; the one’s I couldn’t save. I held Cooper, speaking softly until he drifted off.”
       My shoulders droop. The chair is just aIMAG0980bout ready to swallow me.
She walks up to me and sits on her desk. “Cooper would’ve been a little happier in death if you had been with him when he passed on.”
I rest my elbows on my knee. “I was- was- scared.” I manage a whisper.
She touches my shoulder. “I know fear, Mr. Sandhu . Every Friday, I find a list of dogs at Animal control those are going to be put down. I drive to the pound paralyzed with fear. Knowing those dogs are missing their chance at life are the darkest moments of my week.”
“How do you do it, Tina?”
She sighs. “I’ve encompassed the world of rescue. I’ve brought the love of animals into my heart. My love for the animals does not fill some void in my life left by a bad relationship, a dog that passed or some sociological issue I had in my childhood.” She taps the picture of a black and tan Doberman wearing a red collar that reads ‘Speed’.IMAG0978
              I raise my eyebrows. “Why do you–”
“–Because nobody else will. They’ve gone through life without love or understanding.They are at the Animal Shelter because a human chose to abandon them. Because they think the dog’s life wasn’t worthwhile anymore. Now at the end of their life and in the final moments I share my heart and my love with them. These last comforting moments are all I can give them.”
       I tug my earlobe. That explains her picture with five handicapped dogs. “Do you think you make a difference in their lives?”
      “Absolutely. The human touch and love is all an animal needs. That love is all that Cooper needed to make the most difficult journey he ever made.” She places an urn of his ashes on the table.
      The urn rattles. I place my trembling hand on it. I haven’t encompassed rescue like her. After having done this for seven years I feel today that I’m on the outside looking in. I haven’t encompassed compassion. I still judge people based on appearance or sexuality or my preconceived notions. “Thank you, Tina.” I stumble out the door.
     She calls out behind me. “Peace be with you.”
     I stop in my tracks. If I were a marginally better person, I’d be friends with her- because if a person like her is not in my life. The loss will be entirely and completely mine.DSC00660

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6 thoughts on “Da’ Coopster ……. Continued….

  1. I looked forward to hearing the rest of Cooper’s story. Thank you for sharing…a beautiful story about a lovely person and sweet doggie.

  2. That day when Coop passed is vivid in my mind. I can still see him standing in my back seat with his bandana on as I drove him to the vet….I can still feel his prickly fur as I held his head in my lap. I have received so many blessings in my life, met some wonderful people because of him. Cooper’s life was not in vain-I see his face every time I feel like quitting-and he keeps me strong. Thank you for writing this piece and honoring his memory.

    • Thx Penny…
      Yes, Cooper was special…but one of the many we have lost in rescue… Just hope that at the end of the day we save more than we lose…and still honour the special ones we lose…and NVER forget them.
      Inder

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