Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Saying goodbye to "Coot"

For the past 24 hours, I've been trying to form in my mind what I would say about my black Labrador, "Coot," who died unexpectedly on Tuesday. "Coot," named for a species of shiny black duck, meant everything to me....a companion, a friend, generally someone who brought enjoyment and laugh-out-loud fun into my life these past nine years.

I knew he not been feeling well, so yesterday morning when he seemed weak and uncomfortable, we decided a trip to the vet was needed. My best uneducated guess was that there was a urinary tract infection that could be handled with antibiotics. But within a hour and a half of getting him into the office, his breathing became labored and he couldn't stand. His heart failed. There were several minutes of heroic CPR and then he was gone. The vet explained that he thought it was a growth... a tumor that in dogs can hemorrhage, bleed out into the abdominal cavity and shut everything down. A couple of simple tests supported that theory. So yesterday, I drove home stunned as the rain beat down on the car and the windshield wipers slapped back and forth, Coot, so still, wrapped in a blanket in the back.
We buried him deep at a spot near some lilacs overlooking the pond where he loved to swim. It rained the whole time. Maybe not such a bad thing since he loved water so much.
Coot's passing is a shock because at age nine, I thought we'd have him for at least several more years. There would be more rafting expeditions, more hunting and more playing in the snow. He was way more than a dog to me, getting me through some of the worst time of my life. For two years, he'd be there when I came home in the dark from work, leaping out of his outdoor kennel to celebrate our daily reunion. I'd bring him into the house, talk to him, feed him and have him asleep in the laundry room all night. He'd been a comfort in my time of loneliness, a friend during my recovery, someone with whom I shared space and time. He ran with me when I jogged up the road. He traveled with me on car trips. Most of all we enjoyed the outdoors together. There was that spectacular pheasant-hunting trip last fall where he was an absolutely brilliant retriever. He had a repertoire of tricks...catching balls, retrieving sticks, the usual. But he also had manners...no jumping on people, no grabbing food out of your hand until given the OK and understanding his boundaries inside the house. I was so proud of him.
When I was at my worst, Coot was at his best, licking my face one night while I sat crumpled and crying on the kitchen floor overwhelmed with the difficulties I faced.
"Pets can be there for you in ways that people can't," say the experts at About.com. "They can offer love and companionship, and can also enjoy comfortable silences, keep secrets and are excellent snugglers. And they can be the best antidote to loneliness." All those benefits were a part of the life that Coot and I shared.
For those of us 60 and older, a pet can make all the difference. Coot certainly did that for me.
For more on the merits of pet ownership, see the Web sites below.
WebMD.com
http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets
MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53868
Camping.com
http://www.camping.com/fur-kids-pet-camping/1404-the-benefits-of-having-a-pet

1 comment:

  1. It's always so sad to lose a pet, especially prematurely.
    I hope in time your wonderful memories of Coot will replace your grief.
    Jeanette

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