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Donate in Cooper's Name
A donation was made in Cooper's memory by Kevin C.. His memorial was created on 2/20/2013.
Cooper was a Golden Doodle with the most magical ability to catch one's eye and make them smile, come over to say hi and talk to us. We first met him at the breeder's at about four weeks old, and the combination of the splash of white on his chest just below his neck and the fact that he looked at us all so intently, eye to eye, made us choose him very quickly! We had to wait several more weeks with only one picture of him to keep us company, but when we drove through deep snow on the Sunday before Christmas in 2008, we were all truly smitten by him! He learned to let us know that he needed to go outside within a month, and never had an accident in the house from that point on.
We were able to take Cooper to one of several off-leash dog parks 4 - 5 days per week from the time that he was about three months old, so he became wonderfully socialized with both humans and other dogs. Several of the dog walkers at Northacres Park in Seattle came to realize that Cooper would winnow out one of their dogs and play with them until both dogs were breathless and spent, so we frequently joined their groups in play, making Cooper a true favorite.
As he continued to grow well beyond the 50 - 60 lbs we were expecting to his adult weight of 94 lbs, we were always struck by how gentle he was by nature. If a tiny 10 lb toy dog or puppy wanted to play with him, he would lay down and just follow them with his head while they ran around him.
He grew to be an absolutely beautiful dog with his wavy hair in shades from very light blond to almost red, long, straight and flowing at the tail (he favored his Mom, the Golden Retriever), quite literally stopping traffic at times, sitting in the back seat looking out the window and smiling at everyone, occasionally causing entire cars full of people to lean over each other to gaze at him and smile, laugh and wave, until someone behind them honked their horn to remind them that traffic had cleared, and they could go on.
When we took him to nurseries or to U Village here in Seattle, he would notice someone looking at him, toss his head and do "the Doodle dance", tail wagging, fur flowing until they had no choice but to come over and say hello. He left a trail of smiling, happy people everywhere we went. He even managed to get invited up onto the laps of guests at our home, draping himself over one or two laps to get loving and attention (something that few dogs his size could have gotten away with)!
At about 3 1/2 years of age, we noticed a small "hump" in his nose below his left eye, and that, combined with the fact that the same eye had started running occasionally several days before, caused us to get him to the vet a day or so later. From there, we made an appointment with a local Veterinary Dental Specialist, thinking that the inflamed area in his upper jaw, spreading to his gums on the outside and a bit into the roof of his mouth must be an abscessed tooth.
Unfortunately, the Dentist warned us that he felt that this was a tumor, and we scheduled a biopsy for the next day and CT scans for the next. When the report came back that it was a Squamous Cell Carcinoma, we had already made the appointment to take him to the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital several days later, where we met with an oncologist and several surgeons.
After additional CT imaging, biopsies of both lymph nodes under his ears, and a thorough examination, indications were that the cancer was localized with no metastasis. We returned three days later, and a section of his upper left jaw, five teeth, part of his hard palate and the bone at the top of his nose were removed. He recovered so quickly that he was released two days early, and the pathology reports came back with clear margins all around. This made radiation unnecessary, and lead the team at WSU, our veterinarians here in Seattle AND the veterinary dental specialist to marvel at the success of the surgery and join us in the sense that we had caught this in time, and that Cooper would fully recover, grow back the layers of hair on his face making the operation undetectable, and live on in his joyous, exuberant way, spreading happiness and beauty everywhere he went.
It was only when the full recovery seemed a bit slow and a split claw on a front paw caused him to favor that leg a bit, that we took him back in to the Veterinarian, who agreed that cleaning and binding the paw should allow the claw to heal, and, re-checking the surgical site, assure us that he had just hit a bit of a snag in his recovery, but that all was well.
Sadly, he started favoring a back leg several days later, and purely out of the need to cover every possible cause, we requested x-rays to be taken of his hip and rear legs. The veterinarian detected something in one of the images, but did not feel immediately concerned, simply asking if they could forward the images to a radiologist for closer examination.
In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we received the phone call reporting that the diagnosis was metastatic bone cancer, and that there was a shadow in one of his lungs as well. When we reported this back to the team at WSU, they seemed genuinely stunned, and compared the x-rays just taken as well as additional ones showing tumors in his scapula and at the heads of all four legs with CT scans and x-rays taken no more than 5 weeks before. They were able to confirm that the previous images showed no signs of the metastases, meaning that the spread of the cancer had been extraordinarily fast.
Still working with the excellent team at WSU, we tried a new therapy called Tumexal along with a number of nutritionally based alternative cancer treatments, and for a month or so, Cooper's condition actually improved! He was limping less, insisted on going for walks even though they tired him out very much, and we had real hope that we might still beat the cancer! Part of this was Cooper's indomitable spirit and courage, of course, and while we wondered if we would have caught things "in time" if it was in him to complain, whine or otherwise let us know that he was in discomfort, that was simply not in him.
Although our efforts won us an additional month or so that we are deeply grateful for, Cooper had a relapse, and we had his favorite veterinarian and a veterinary tech that had known him since he was a pup come and help release him from his pain on December 11, 2012, about six weeks after his fourth birthday, and ten days before the fourth anniversary of bringing him home. I could not help but notice that the veterinarian's hands shook a bit as he gave Cooper a first injection of sedative, and the veterinary tech cried openly, something that I doubt is common as both are seasoned professionals.
It's over two months later that I can finally sit down and write this, and we have gradually started to look at pictures of him and smile and laugh at his exploits and our memories of him, rather than just start crying again. Part of what has helped us to overcome some of the deepest, darkest sadness that we have ever known is imagining how hurt and saddened he would have been to know that we were so deeply affected by his loss. He lived to make everyone that he could reach smile, laugh and wonder at the beauty of life, and to understand the depth of despair that losing him had caused would have been devastating to him.
So we gradually replace the memories of his last four months with all the joy that he gave us for the overwhelming majority of his four years. We are learning to be thankful for all of the beauty, joy, laughter, wonder and happiness that we experienced thanks to him, rather than feel cheated and robbed that he lived only a third of the time that he so deeply deserved.
Even though we have always been "dog people"
Michelle & Guy O.
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