Letting Go

It promised to be a glorious day, and magically, I woke up early.  I snuck out of bed without waking John, grabbed some clothes and went quietly to the living room.  I opened the shutters and looked out to see the slightest bits of pink light starting to color the sky outside.  Dawn was just breaking, and it looked to be a beautiful start.

“Wanna take a walk?” I asked Cooper, my year-and-a-half old Springer Spaniel.

Cooper wagged his tail, and headed towards the door.  We grabbed his leash, my red jacket, and headed out into the morning.

And the morning was glorious.  A November morning.  Indian Summer, if there can be Indian Summer in Switzerland where there never were too many Indians.

We lived in the midst of dog and dog-lovers’ heaven.  Our tiny house was located on the outskirts of a small village 20 minutes outside of Geneva, Switzerland in farm country.  Our chalet looked just like a cuckoo-clock, and it stood as the last clock on a rural lane in what looked like a display of seven cuckoo-clock houses.  Across the dirt road from the clocks were farm fields.  The fields crossed the road to the left of our house and went on and on.  Wheat, corn, hay, sunflowers, rape seed.  The fields sloped gently down and gave way to vineyards and apple orchards until the hills gently ended at the town of Nyon and Lake Geneva.  The Alps, with Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, rose above the Lake and the other mountains, as if placing its arms around the gang of mountains it hung out with.

Not a bad location

Not a bad view*
(I’m pretty sure this is one of my pictures.)

Magestic.  Magical.  Make-your-heart-sing-like-Julie-Andrews-beautiful.

It was about 5:30 when Cooper and I headed out.  We crossed the busy road that ran to the left of our house, and I let him off the leash.  It was getting lighter, and I walked and watched my dog run, both of us smiling.  He’d run a bit, then come back to check on me and run off once again.

Springer Spaniels are expressive dogs – their sad looks can melt your heart.  But when they run, they embody joy.  Pure and simple joy.   And on that morning, Cooper ran with abandon through harvested corn fields that we passed first.  His ears flapped and happiness spread across his face as he ran and jumped over cornstalks and literally ran circles around me in his delight.

We continued on the straight farm road that paralleled the Lake, passed fallow fields to where the road turned at a right angle and led us downhill towards the lake.  By now, it was lighter — I could just start to make out Nyon Castle in the distance, although it was so far away that if you didn’t know it was there, you really couldn’t see it.   The road crossed another farm road, and so we turned to the right again to continue on our normal loop that would lead us home, after a walk of about 2-1/2 miles.  It was full morning, now; the sun glistened on Lake Geneva, the snow topped peaks and me and Cooper.

Up ahead on the left and right were fields of grass that would soon be harvested for hay.  Cooper ran ahead and disappeared into the tall grass.  I watched as the grass parted, showing me just where he was and how far he’d run.

But then I noticed a second line where the grass was parting for somebody else.  Or something  else.  Whatever it was, it was heading straight towards Cooper.

Possibly the best way to describe Cooper would be as a fur-covered marshmallow.  Everything inside — good and sugary.   As a soft, squishy, completely sweet thing, Cooper didn’t  understand aggression.  Somehow it all worked out though – aggressive dogs never attacked or bothered him.  Cooper wanted to play, and his playfulness was infectious.  Even the most aggressive dogs found him endearingly stupid; and they always played with the sweet dope.

Still, when frightened, Cooper became a complete coward.  If something frightened him, well, Cooper would run to me and hide behind my legs.  Or behind John’s legs or later, behind  Jacob’s.  An all-inclusive coward, he’d hide behind us one and all.

So when the two paths in the grass converged, I wasn’t surprised at all to see Cooper come springing out, his face the picture of delight.  He had a new friend, and was running towards me to share the good news.

There are some friends you just shouldn’t introduce to your mother.  This was one.

Cooper had met a wild boar.  An enormous, wild f’ing boar.

Google Image

Google Image

She came out of the grass, and stopped in the middle of the road and stood there, all 250 pounds of her.  She strutted her impressive bulk and looked from side to side.

I stood there, frozen, my mouth agape.  I watched her breathe, knowing that I was unlikely to remember this meeting fondly.

I could see the sun touch the edges of her coarse, bristled fur where it was lighter than the part that came out of her back or side or anywhere else on her 250 pounds or so of solid flesh.

I could hear her breathing from about 75 feet away, as I backed up slowly.  She breathed in and out, sometimes through her snout, and sometimes in wet breaths through her lips, which flapped occasionally.  She breathed loudly.

I could smell her.  She needed a bath.  Or a run through a field of lavender, preferably in France.


We had been warned about wild boar, but in spite of long twice daily walks through the fields, we had never seen hide nor hair nor bristle; we didn’t worry.  Cooper was delighted with his new friend.  And he rushed over towards me to tell me so.  I wasn’t so easily smitten.

Wild boars do not like dogs, they are known to attack and kill them.  They aren’t fond of people, either.  And rumor has it they aren’t terribly playful.  And I wasn’t anxious to turn my lovely morning walk into a learning experience, either.

I looked over in the direction of the house and suddenly realized something extremely important:

It’s a long crawl home.

“Cooper, Come!”  I shouted, stupidly, automatically.

In fact, I was not sure I really wanted him to come to me.  Would I take on a wild boar to save my dog?  Not if I thought about it logically.  But then logic really has very little room in the brain of a dog-lover.  Of course I would have taken on a wild boar to save my younger, dumb son.  And of course, I would have lost.  Especially since, in looking about, I realized that we were in the middle of a farm field and there wasn’t so much as a protective twig in sight.  Damn the compulsively tidy Swiss.

I did not want to be wild boared.

Cooper, oblivious to the danger he was dancing around, he kept going up to the boar, prancing in front of her, running in circles around her, begging her to chase him, just like his doggy pals did.

“Come on, play!” he was obviously saying.

“Go away,” she was clearly thinking as she aimed a cold, bored glare at him.

I was pretty sure that if she chased him, it wouldn’t be to play.  And then naturally, Cooper would panic, not know what to do.  Oh who am I kidding – Cooper’s first and only though would be “MOM!”  and he would run and hide behind me.  And the boar would kill me, an innocent bystander.

I looked at my red jacket, glad I had worn that one so that they could find my crumpled, maimed, boar-ed body more easily.

“Dammit, Cooper, Come!  Now!” I said more softly, trying to get him to leave her alone.

Nobody ever listens to me.

Cooper ran away from the boar towards me at last, but then he turned and ran back to her, again, circled around wagging his tail furiously, still trying to get her to play.

But suddenly, the situation changed.  “Cooper, Come.  Now!” I screamed it this time.

Because the boar had turned her head.  She was now looking at me.

Naturally, Cooper ran around her again and fortunately she forgot about me in her irritation at the stupid dog.  The boar, who seemed to have finally caught her breath, looked at Cooper like he was her pesky little brother.  She shook her head once more, dismissive of the pest, and continued on her way uphill through the grass field.  The grass separated as she pushed her way through.

Cooper came back to me, defeated, deflated, rejected.  He looked sad in that tearful, long-eared way only a Springer spaniel can have.  My boy’s feelings had been hurt.  I was glad it had only been his feelings.

*    *    *

Cooper loved those fields, where he could cavort in relative safety, where he could run free, with his ears flapping.  Doggy Heaven.  Of course, it really didn’t matter where he was, Cooper was happy wherever he was, as long as John, Jacob and I were there with him.

Today, that’s where Cooper is  —  in doggy heaven.  I am sure that he is back in the fields near Gingins, Switzerland.  Running with unrestrained joy, looking out over Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc and the Alps.   He’ll have his young dog body back, with no aches, pains or problems.

I hope he doesn’t run into any wild boars, though.  Because it’ll be a while before John, Jacob or I will join him.  For a while, there’ll be nobody for Coops to hide behind.

The Boys in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland

The Boys in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland


March 9, 1998 – August 13, 2013

*   *   *

To vote for this story in BlogHer, please go to:  http://www.blogher.com/node/1393485/voty?category=VOTY%20-%20Heart%3A%20Feel%20it.  Thanks!


Filed under Cooper, Dogs, Freshly Pressed, Geneva Stories, History, Humor, Pets, Wild Beasts

281 responses to “Letting Go

  1. Aw..RIP Cooper. I hope no boars exist in doggy heaven.

  2. This was a perfectly told story. I was on the edge of my seat. And now I’m getting all misty-eyed remembering my own beloved childhood dog. RIP Cooper.

  3. So happy for Jacob, you and John that you enjoyed so many more years together. Wonderful tribute to Cooper…your pet with a memorable name.

  4. Twindaddy

    I’m so sorry, Elyse. RIP, Cooper.

  5. I’m betting Cooper has made friends with all the heavenly boars.
    Much to the astonishment of the rest of the angels.

  6. A beautiful memory and loving tribute.

    • Thanks, Cole. He was terrific, and he lived a long time. So we’re very lucky. And of course, lucky that neither of us died violently back in 1999!

  7. It’s hard to type a comment with tears clouding my eyes. What a beautiful tribute to a much loved member of the family.

  8. mercyn620

    What a wonderful story and tribute to Cooper. He was a special gift to your family.

    • Thanks Mercy. Surprisingly, I don’t have too many Cooper stories. He was good and loyal and didn’t drive us crazy (those dogs give the best stories). He was very special and I miss him like crazy. There’s a big hole in our home.

  9. What a beautiful tale of Cooper’s adventure. Makes me want to give him a big hug, and exchange happy smiles with him. What a beautiful little man.

  10. So sorry about the recent loss of your pet. Lovely story, and I’m glad the boar realized she shouldn’t mess with you.

    Switzerland is gorgeous. I’ve only been there once, but those views will stay with me forever. How wonderful you got to experience them daily.

    • Normally I frighten aggressors with my rapier wit. This time, I would have needed a rapier to fight her off. Luckily, hand-to-snout combat wasn’t in the cards. Or in the fields.

      Switzerland was truly beautiful. I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to live in a place I had dreamed of visiting since I first saw Heidi (I hated the move, but loved the scenery). I was happy that they interrupted the Superbowl to play my movie, though.

      Was that too obscure? Here is the Wikipedia page on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game

  11. Oh, I am so sorry Elyse to hear about Cooper! He sounds like a lovely young fur son! He can play with my Bandit who also loved to romp & was a scaredy-cat too! They can make each other brave!

    • Bandit was a scaredy-dog, too? I didn’t know that! Yes, Cooper’s full name was “Gary Cooper” but he didn’t live up to the comparison in terms of bravery. Handsomeness, absolutely. Bravery? Not so much.

  12. That was a remarkable story and tribute to your beloved Cooper. What a special part of your life. I am sad for your loss, but there is joy in imagining him playing in heaven, perhaps even with a heavenly boar! Blessings to you and your family as you remember him and celebrate his life!

  13. So sorry to read of your loss, it is so hard to say goodbye. May the best memories keep him in your heart forever, even the adrenaline-filled ones!

  14. Oh my Cooper and a Wild Boar in the middle of the road cavorting. I am betting the Boar thought, WTH and Cooper thought, “Why are you so boring!”

    I get it you thought, “SHIT”. What I am not getting is why didn’t you think, “RUN!”

    This was such a well told story. You had the best companions. I love the picture of ‘The Boys’, what love!

    • Never, ever run from an animal. Many of them have poor eyesight and can only see you when you move (especially if you are wearing a red jacket). So freezing in abject terror is actually a highly intelligent reaction. And that morning I was highly, highly intelligent.

      I have read that if you are chased by an alligator (which is not an animal it is a large mammal-eating reptile) you should run in a zig zag because they can’t.

      You have no idea how much useless information I have in my head. Thank you for letting me put some of it into yours.

      • Thank you for that information, I will treasure it.

        I use to keep snakes, really big snakes. Right after the shed they are blind and hungry! The last thing to shed is the eye. So they track dinner with sound, never ever put your hand in a big snake cage after they shed to grab that pretty skin!

        Now you have a piece of useless information also.

        • Thanks for that info, Val. I will stop doing what I’ve done so often — grabbing snake skins that aren’t yet made into shoes.

          Actually, I recently had a snake experience.

          First of all, my garage is not neat. That’s important to keep in mind.

          I took Cooper out for a late night pee through the garage. We were half way back to the inside garage door when for some reason, John came out and checked on us. We stood there talking, me guiding poor blind Cooper back towards the door, when I noticed a bungee chord on the floor. Out of place. Of course everything in the garage is out of place.

          Anyway, I was reaching to pick it up, when i realized that it wasn’t a bungee chord! Nope, it was a copperhead snake! Cooper didn’t step on it, I didn’t pick it up. John did have to deal with it, but hell, what are husbands for?

          Moral? Be careful with bungee chords.

  15. Judy

    Elyse, I am sorry……he was a great dog ( and you know how I feel about dogs).
    Now you will need to find another excuse for not wanting to have lunch with me!

    • Thanks, Judy. You have always been particularly sweet to my dogs, even though you don’t like them. I was going to send you an email, but it’s not like sending a birth announcement …

      And I think that you gave me a good excuse for avoiding lunch dates with you by moving to another state. That is my trick, not yours. I want it back.


  16. Good dog, Cooper.
    Sending this on to a good friend, who lost her beloved Springer a month ago.
    Wishing you many happy memories; there is nothing like a really good dog.
    Hugs to all of you.

    • Thanks, Moms/Karen. Nobody touches your heart quite like your dog does. There was an article in the NY Times not long ago that said it is harder to lose your pet than your parent. I think it’s probably true — my parents didn’t meet me at the door and slobbered. They got annoyed with me from time to time. Our Dogs? Nope. They love us no matter what.

      Gotta go get a hanky.

  17. Very sorry to read of this news …

  18. Losing a pet is such a difficult thing … I’m sorry, very sorry for your loss.

    I’ve always liked this poem by Pablo Neruda, written after the death of his dog … http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-dog-has-died/

    • Thanks John. Loss is never easy, no matter who it is. Love. Dogs are so incredibly loving, no matter what you do, they just love you.

      I’m not much for poetry, but thanks for sending that one. But of course he’s lying. Nobody with a heart just buries their dog and goes on. Nobody who’s has a dog, anyway.

  19. That’s a beautiful story, Elyse, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

  20. moi

    Really enjoyed reading that.

  21. Love the story, but the ending is difficult. Peace and strength to you because losing pets (as you know) is hard …. very hard. Cheers to the many joys Cooper brought to you that will stay with your forever.

  22. I am terrified of wild boars. I was chased by one when I was 5 or 6, in my Daisy troop. We were on a hike with our scout master when we encountered a female boar with her piglets. She chased us all the way back to our cabin and then paced in front of our cabin door for what seemed like ages. They are so scary! I’m so glad you and Cooper made it out okay and that he lived to share many happy memories with you :) I love springer spaniels. Good, good dogs!

    • Wild boars are truly scary — and unpredictable. But I think your scare was far worse than mine! If our boar had been a mama, I think things would have ended quite differently.

      And yes, springers are wonderful dogs. Coops most of all.

  23. Elyse, this is one of my most favorite post in your blog. It was a beautifully written story. I am sure this time, your words came straight from your heart.
    RIP, Cooper!!

  24. Pingback: Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 193 | A Frank Angle

  25. cortney

    Beautiful tribute, Elyse. My heart goes out to you all.

    I’ll keep an eye out for parting grass and glimpses of Cooper’s spirit in these parts (and another for actual boars – gah!)

    • Thanks, Cortney.

      And do watch out for wild boars. They like mornings and evenings. And they aren’t nice. I saw another one one night after we moved to France (Divonne). He was much bigger and stood posing in the street light. Fortunately, Cooper was on the leash that time and we watched, silently, from a respectful distance!

  26. I’m very sorry for your loss – my mum has a Springer Spaniel and he’s the most loving, loyal companion… I hope he’s very happy in doggy heaven and my thoughts are genuinely with you. Beautiful post…

  27. So sorry for your loss. What a lovable face he had. I’d like to think there are boars in heaven, but the kind that are sweet and playful, just like Cooper wanted.

  28. Great story! I was in suspense the whole time that boar was on the scene! I also have a couple of dumb dogs. I mean seriously, dumb as a bag of hammers, but so lovable. I’m sorry your pup is gone. One of my others died a couple of years ago in the most inconvenient of places of course. I had to carry her several hundred yards to the car with tears in my eyes. We drove to the liquor store and shared one more can of beer together before I left her at the vet wrapped in her favorite blanket. Damn dogs!

  29. Arrrrrrh, eye, tear. Beautiful boy. Been there recently twice myself and I found it did help writing about it.

    • The writing really did help. Now if I can only figure out how to not cry whenever I get no furry greeting upon walking into the house or room, I’ll be in great shape!

      Sorry you’re in this club, too.

      • Oh I know. I now dog sit from time to time, had one go home yesterday and I’m mourning that. Honestly.
        Mine were old and had great lives. Bertie was 16 and Flynn who died in April 15 – both golden Retrievers. But it’s the little electric shocks like
        oh 5.00 need to feed Flynn etc.
        My advice – just cry.
        And write some more.

  30. All the Beaglez, including their moms, are so sorry for your loss. And we are so thankful you and Cooper had such a loving, fun, adventurous life journey before it came to pass.

  31. EXCELLENT writing … loved it :)

  32. I was holding my breath while reading and didn’t realize it until I got to the end. I hope Cooper had a peaceful passing to the next world. I am sure that you will be reunited in time. Until then, I don’t know if you are Christian or not, he will be held in the loving arms of Christ.

  33. What a nice tribute to Cooper! May Cooper’s memories be a blessing to you!

  34. Reblogged this on A Curious Gal and commented:
    This is one wonderful story, enjoy!!

  35. You almost made me cry :'(
    I lost my little dachshund (he was only 12 weeks old) when a neighbouring dog attacked him – it was awful! I had to pick his mangled body up off the neighbours driveway. I am soooo glad that you did not have to experience anything like that in Cooper vs wild boar!
    I’m sorry for your loss – I am sure you will have thousands of wonderful memories of Cooper!

    • Oh dear, Nutty, what a terrible experience! I’m glad that I didn’t have to haul a mangled dog home, too. But in this instance, Cooper would have hidden behind me and I would be mangled. Then Cooper would have gone home, Lassie like, for help. Or more likely, he would have just gone home for breakfast!

      I’ve been negotiating getting a small dog next time around (my husband is a big dog kinda guy) but there are so many hawks and owls around here, that I would worry about the safety of a little guy. (A neighbor of mine lost a toy poodle to a hawk!) So, a little bit of bulk might be a saving grace.

      Thanks for stopping by and for reading Cooper’s story and sharing yours.

  36. i was holding to the edge of my laptop thinking of what would happen, so sorry about losing Cooper. Am sure he must be looking down and smiling and bringing smiles to many in his heaven.

    • Thanks, Moods (I love your blog name — doesn’t that capture life perfectly?) And thank you for stopping by.

      I think Coops is feeling better now. It was a few years since he could run in the fields — he had all kinds of health problems towards the end. It helps to think of him running happily, with his ears flapping.

  37. This is beautiful, and made me cry for my girl. 3 years gone in September, but no less missed – I lost my best friend the day she left us.

    Copper sounds like he would love her though- she was a lab and desperate to play! I hope they’ve found each other for company until I can catch up. x

    • From the comments, there are a whole lot of our faithful friends playing with Cooper in that field. (I’m sure the farmer is not happy!) It is such a hard thing to lose a friend, but when that friend is with you so much, well with each breath you realize they are absent.)

  38. This was the most beautiful good-bye I ever did see. If I wasn’t at work I am sure to have been sobbing. I lost a pet last year and it is the most depressing, devastating experience when it arrives. I know he is equally as happy in heaven and when we visit he’ll be just as happy to see us as we are happy to see him.

    • You know it really did help to write this. The funny thing is, I’d drafted this story ages ago, but it just didn’t fit in with anything else I was writing. I’m glad it worked out that way, because I finished it the night Cooper died and I can’t tell you how much it helped me get through that first horrible night.

      I’m sure your friend (furry?) is waiting for you, whenever you come. Just like he/she waited for you to come home. (And I swear, walking through the door is the hardest part)

      • I couldn’t agree more. For months I’d walk home and when he wasn’t there waiting my heart would break. Lots of tears were shared in his loss and the I have two others they’ll never replace the bond with the one you first choose with your man.

        • In 9th grade we got a dog after my previous two were put to sleep (long, traumatic story I haven’t told). I looked at the cute puppy we had just gotten and told him “I’m not going to love you like I did Okie.” He looked at me, and rolled over, giving me his belly. I DID love him, but differently. I think every furry friend is different, and you can’t compare them.

          And my husband had to take my dog — we were a package deal: http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2012/12/02/for-medicinal-purposes-only/

  39. Dang it. I’m absolutely in tears.
    Having just said good bye to a beloved pet myself, I sort of hope Cooper and Tigger (okay, he’s of the feline species) run into one another. Happiness abounds in the hereafter.

    • You know, Rogue, it may be that Cooper had to go to heaven to have any kitties to play with. We have close friends we all visit often; they have 4 cats. The cats would not play, and Cooper just didn’t understand. He really just couldn’t believe that someone didn’t want to play with him. Exactly how he felt when the wild boar rejected him. Total devastation!

      Sorry for your loss, too. Writing does help, though. It always does!

  40. A beautiful story. I never understand people who do not understand the attachment one has with a pet. Some pets do indeed become part of the family. My wife has four cats and if the truth be told she probably would trade me in before her little kitties. By the way one is eighteen, one ten, one three and one six months old. I on the other hand am 67 so she may have a point on doing the trading.

    • You know, Barry, I think that there are pet people and people who just don’t get it. Pet people do get the attachment, but I think it’s hard for some of them to express it. They don’t like to think about the fact that it will happen to them too. Because, sadly, it will.

      I bet your wife wouldn’t really trade you in. I do want to trade in my husband on occasion, but the laws are pretty clear on that. It is verbotten. Still, “How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away” is a brilliant song.

      Weird song to choose given the subject of this post!

      • As you read my stuff you will note that I have a weird sense of humor. I am a cynic with a touch of hope, add some absurd notions, a lot of resentment, a dash of stubborn, a pinch of sea salt and well you get the drift. Loved the touch of adding the music, please describe how you did that. I am computer half illiterate. But like an old dog I can learn a new trick if the bone tastes good. After being married since 1970 my wife will not trade me in. She is to practical for that. She is smarter than me. She bought a burial site and asked for only three feet. Economical of her, don”t you think?

        • Adding music is easy, actually. I paid Word Press to do it but I don’t know if it now free.
          Here is a link to a video on how to do it in a post — but the “Add Media” looks slightly different now than it did when this was made. Same category names, it is now just easier:

          To do it in a comment, you simply add the url (http://etc) in a new line and the video appears. IF you put the url on the same line, you will leave a link.

          You’re welcome to experiment here!

          • You tube are the only videos I can get to work, though. Because I thought i was putting in a video to this clip. Not a link!

          • I sincerely appreciate your input. Thank you so much. I will try it soon. Right now I am working on a cat piece that I am attempting to put in. I will be finished in a few minutes and would love your feed back. If it could be done I would love to add to it some background music that makes sense. What do you think would play well?

  41. What a lovely story and tribute. I’m missing my own beautiful goof, Sazi, our Golden Retriever who passed in March. You captured in your story that Coops was a funny wonderful special dog friend. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you Cathy (or is it Carey?). It is universal among dog owners, I think. They give us so much love that, well, they are really missed when they’re gone.

  42. We never get over our furry family members. We lost our Toby who was an Australian Silky Terrier about 6 years ago. We finally opened our hearts and family to a young rescue dog last year. We smile because we know Toby would love Mac. Your Cooper will always be walking with you, wherever you go.

    • Thanks for your nice comment. I know that Cooper is romping around with many long lost/long loved companions.

      You held out for a very long time — I don’t know if I will be able to. My husband is of the mind that we must grieve for a while before getting a new one. I already feel the pull on my heartstrings — you don’t stop grieving just because you have a new dog! This time, my husband works at home (I was home with our son when our previous two dogs died). It is lonely being at home with no companionship.

      • I must confess…I came home with a kitten from my friend’s house the week after Toby died. My husband said, “I thought you said no more pets for now.” I said, “No, I said no more DOGS for now, this animal barely needs me.” Also, our boys were very young and I worried about keeping dogs and kids at peace on a daily basis. Our boys are 7 and 10 now and a week doesn’t go by that one of them says, “Mom, I love Mac, thank you for letting us have a dog.” Boys need dogs and so does this Mom.

        • Oh, that’s sweet. I agree that kids need dogs. The ones I had growing up comforted me when my siblings picked on me, or I had a bad day or I got in trouble. They make you realize that you’re going to be OK. This mom needs a dog too. Strangely, my son isn’t much of a dog person. He loved Cooper, though, of course. Everybody did.

          • I always said that a dog was going to find US! And…he did :) There is one out there for you too.

            • I don’t worry about that at all. My family always went out and got a new dog right away to fill that hole. My husband needs to grieve. But he is working from home these days, and the house will be very empty … we will have another before too long.

  43. You weave this story from your heart. From one dog lover to another: I am sorry for your loss. There is something so special about the love between an animal and it’s owner. We are blest beyond measure by that love. I know God doesn’t make junk, everything His hands touch hold great beauty. Cooper is waiting and will see you when you’re called Home, too. Peace to you and yours.

    • Thank you, Coffee. I often feel sad for the people who don’t know the love of a dog (or another animal friend). It really is such a big part of my life. Yours too from the sound of it!

  44. I’m so sorry to hear that … it must be really tough. I know you feel. I lost my dog last year and it was extremely sad. She was 15 going on 16 when it happened. Sending you good vibes and hope you’re doing better.

    • Thank you Guat. And my sympathies to you, too. I’ve never really believed that time heals all wounds — when your heart is broken you heal but there is still a hole. It’s just not as raw after a bit.

  45. Enjoyed your writing, on the edge of seat with the boar story. So sorry for your loss. We lost 2 beloved furry friends (feline type) the Spring & know the grief you feel.

    • Thanks. And I’m sorry for yours. I just wish there was some way to keep our friends around. I guess, now that I think of it, there is. It’s called memories ;( .

  46. What a beautifully written memory of a most beloved pet, thank you.
    It is so easy to love with all our heart but it means that when we have to say goodbye we are left broken hearted. We can’t have the one without the other.
    I believe that the reason we grieve the loss of our pets so deeply is because we attach to them with our hearts and we don’t rely on words (cognition) to connect with them. Our relationship is based purely on our feelings. Only once you have loved and lost a pet are you able understand just what this truly means.
    So very sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you for your nice words. You’re right, you can’t love without feeling the loss. That’s true of humans as well as furry friends.

      You may be right about the relationship being based not on words. It’s a nice way to put it. There is just something so accepting about pets, particularly dogs. They love you, pure and simple. They don’t care about all the things that drive you crazy with the humans in your life — money, who left the toilet seat us (that’s a plus to them, isn’t it?)

      Part of it to me is that you can trust them with your secrets. None of my dogs has ever ratted on me, or told the teacher, or broken a promise. You can’t say that of many people!

  47. Oh, I’m so sorry! Sniff, sniff. Hugs to you. Great story. (I don’t know anyone who has a wild boar story.) Congrats on another FP.

    • Thanks, Karen. Actually, I have 3 wild boar stories. Four, now that I think of it. Maybe I will post those.

      And you’re my only blogging buddy to notice this was FP’d. It is always an honor, but …

      • I noticed it days ago and I sat down three times to congratulate you but Elyse, life (read that kids) got in the way. Very excited for you. You have deserved it many times. Always happy for my favorite bloggers to get FP’d.

        And yes, you must share the other wild boar stories! Really?

  48. Great storytelling. Glad the boar was bored that day and you and Cooper were able to walk away unharmed.

    • Me too! It was really scary, actually. She was enormous and solid. But folks who know more boarding facts have said they think she was an adolescent. The look she gave Cooper as she walked off makes me think they were probably right! She a Ted just like a teenager.

  49. Reblogged this on mhadz daily and commented:

  50. Harvey.Lawless

    Hah, this is a nice piece of writing that accomplishes what it set out to do; and that is to tell a worthwhile story in a worthwhile way!

    I’ll be following this blog from now on and I hope that you can find the time to check out my blog as well and perhaps follow me back!

  51. awwwww. Lovely story. I held my breath hoping it didn’t end with Cooper getting attacked by the boar. RIP Cooper. I do love the dog stories.

    • Thanks. I too was holding my breath during this story, hoping that she didn’t go after either of us! And dog stories are my favorites, too. They drive you crazy but there is so much love …

      Thanks for stopping by.

  52. Well I’m just one big ball of mess right now. The love of a dog is unlike any other. Not like a child or a spouse, but special nonetheless. Thank you for sharing your story and your pain. Thinking of you and hope the heart heals fast! I’m sure Cooper is enjoying endless friends up there in doggy heaven!

    • Thanks, Spice. Sorry to get you sniffling so early in the morning. I think that doggy love is as close to unconditional love as exists in the world. They love you no matter what, and you know that you will be stupid and take on a wild boar to protect them (from themselves)!

  53. Reblogged this on Sweet sharing and commented:
    let go …move on …nice post

  54. This was beautiful thank you! I write a lot about letting go and this really helped me!

    • I wish I could always practice this imagine technique — seeing Cooper there happy and healthy makes me know he’s in a better place. I don’t always feel that way about the people I’ve lost, though.

  55. mymusepoint

    Aw! This nearly made me cry. We were blessed to have Spyro, our Cocker Spaniel, in our lives for thirteen years. He was a bundle of joy! We miss him very much, but your vivid writing made me smile, remembering how much happiness he brought to us.

    • That, in a nutshell is what you always have to keep in mind with a dog. The chances are pretty good that you will outlive them. That just means that you need to appreciate them while you can. Because the love, well, it doesn’t get any better than that!

  56. What a great story and memory. So glad the boar decided to enjoy the encounter with Cooper!

    • Hi, PW! Thanks — it is a fun memory. Especially since neither of us was boared! But I’m sure that our bristly friend told the story of the stupid dog she encountered in a field one day for a long, long time. And she would have been rolling her eyes during the telling, I’m sure!

      • Ah, a kindred spirit in boar form ;) Eye rolling is such an expressive art form for me. Just wish I would remember to always wear sunglasses to keep that particular expression hidden.

  57. Pingback: On Not Taking No | A Frank Angle

  58. Wowzer, is this the second time you’ve been freshly pressed?
    Sorry to hear about Cooper, hope he’s roaming in a place where all the boars are friendly.

    • Hi Greg, thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog because one of my nephews, Jamie, recently went to China to teach. I’m sure, given the few folks who live there, that you and Jamie have already connected and you are best buds! Ammirite?

      I think that Cooper is in a place with friendly boars. Perhaps they are friendly bores (I decided many years ago that the way one has to live to make it to heaven seems likely to lead to a very boring place up there). But Cooper was doing poorly for several years, and he could no longer run with the joy that he once had. It was sad to see him grow old. Partly because I am growing old, too!

      In answer to your question about the all important FP — this is actually my third time. You inspired me to update my categories and so you can see the two other posts that made the hit parade. The first one I don’t think was all that good. The second one was pretty good. This one I am very proud of, as it spoke from my heart. My broken heart. I think it is one that anyone with a pet can relate to.

      There are other posts I am proud of that didn’t make the cut — and that’s OK. It is an honor, and it brings you lots of new readers, and that is great. But I think that I blog as a way to improve my writing, to tell stories that I like to tell.

      People blog for all sorts of reasons. Yours seems to be to catalog your experiences in China. How I wish blogging had been available when I was living in Switzerland — I might have a better collection of memories than I have now. I followed you tonight because it is so exciting to be somewhere new and different. To expand your mind. To learn to adapt and adjust yourself to a whole different culture and language. I can’t wait to read more about your journey!

      Perhaps I should have put all of this into a post — it is long enough!

  59. I love dogs and I loved your story. God bless Cooper. I too believe they’ll all be with us in heaven. :)

  60. Elyse, I am sorry to hear about your beautiful Cooper. I know how hard it is…
    I am glad -even at a sad moment like this- to have found out about your blog, from Frank.

  61. CJ

    So sad to lose Cooper. My sincerest sympathy to you. I have an aging Labrador..I pray he’ll make it to his 12th b-day coming up in September. The finest, most loyal, loving dog I have ever known. He’s my world. But he’s starting to slip fast…a beautiful teddy bear of a doggy. My heart is aching for your beautiful dog’s leaving you…they are special treasures from heaven, I am sure of it.

    • Thanks, CJ. It is hard to see them age. Cooper started having real problems around his 12th birthday — but he made it for three more years. So you never know. Just love him for however long you can. That’s my advice. (Not that you stop loving them when they go.)

  62. What a beautiful way to pay tribute to Cooper. I’m so sorry for your loss. He no doubt lived a full and wonderful life and you all miss him terribly.

    As for wild pigs, we get them here too down in SE Texas. The males get to be 600 lbs — 10″ teeth and all — so we are careful not to venture into their territory by the Brazos. Since we’ve taken the rest of their land, they are left to small pockets of thick forest in the area. They breed profusely and occasionally roam through suburban neighborhoods foraging for food. A female with a litter (and I suspect that’s what you ran into) is a contender for us. I look forward to seeing your future stories. I guess I’ll have to (it’s about time) follow your blog to read further.

    Congrats on another FP. :)

    • Thanks, Shannon, for your kind words and the follow.

      They are pretty scary animals. I’ve read about how they are now invading everything. Invaders who chase people and pets are not welcome! We actually figured that the one Cooper met was an adolescent female, according to the locals. One meeting that size had been seen by others. If she’d had babies, she probably would have attacked. And then the story would have been less sweet and probably involved broken bodies!

  63. I am so sorry for your loss. This is such a meaningful way to honor such a lovely little soul. You have me in tears here in Okinawa, as I watch my little Barley sleep and hope to have many years left to do so. It sounds like Cooper had a great life at your side. Sending warm, fuzzy thoughts your way. Thank you for sharing.

  64. What a lovely story. Did you get another dog, or do you prefer just to have the memories of Cooper?

    • We will get another dog before too long. Cooper just died last week, the day before I posted this piece. Writing it helped me think of him happy and whole and running through the fields again. It helped a lot.

      But I am a dog person. Life just isn’t the same without sweeping up dog hair all the time!

  65. What a wonderful, love-filled, adventure-filled life Cooper had with you! I just know he is grinning as only a dog can do as he recalls this great story you recounted. It is always so hard to say goodbye to our faithful friends . . .

    • Thanks, Kat. I am sure he is happily cavorting off leash, getting into little bits of trouble and eating vile things off the ground …

      And yes, it is hard to say goodbye. And to feel the absence.

  66. You are a gifted story-teller, Elyse. Coops must be palling around with a few of my good old buddies–all waiting patiently for us–the ones they left behind.

    • Thanks, Lorna. I’m sure he’s having a good time with all the lost friends. And he is waiting patiently, I’m pretty sure. Sleeping on the good rug while he does, naturally, just like he did waiting for us to come home from work.

  67. Delightful. Enjoyed your post. I felt like I was right there with you and Cooper. Great imagery!

  68. Awesome story. Makes me want to reach over and give my babies a big hug. Won’t take them for a walk for awhile though. Thanks for sharing the wonderful story.

  69. lightofmymornings

    We never really lose them, Elyse. That’s the good part. Once the pain lessens, we have so many stories with them in in the center… it’s like they never left. They do make the warmest memories!

  70. Pingback: Boaring Followup | FiftyFourandAHalf

  71. Dear Elyse,
    So sorry for your loss.

  72. Elyse, I love this story. I’m so sorry to hear of Cooper’s passing. They are such a part of out lives, and there’s nothing happier than a springer. It sounds like he lived a heck of a life.

    • Thanks Lorri. He did have an adventure-filled life. What a sweetie.

      I’m having eggs for breakfast right now — he always got a bite. Sniff …

  73. With your story I could picture Cooper so explicit around that wild boar. I feel sorry for your loss. I miss my dog now.

    • Thanks. The story makes me smile. I think, though, that missing them simply reminds us of how important they are to us.

      Thank you for visiting, commenting and I see that you’ve followed, too. Welcome!

  74. Wonderful story…captures all the essence of our best friends…(I call my 2 dogs my boys, too) sad to hear about Cooper’s passing…but glad to see he enjoyed a long & happy life with a wonderful family!

  75. Damn, end of the night here for me and you would have to go and make this old dog lover tear up…great story.

  76. It seems Cooper had a wonderful and love filled life. You can’t ask for more than that. I am sorry for your loss. He certainly was a beauty. That last shot with your young boy is absolutely priceless. I’m glad he left you with so many wonderful memories.

    • Thanks Michelle. We all had a very good life together.

      And the picture is one of my very favorites — Jacob was about 8, Cooper about 2. And it was a lovely walk heading towards the Eiger!

  77. Hi Elyse, this is beautifully written..I’m pretty sure that even though Cooper is already in heaven he will still be loyal to you and your family. ^_^

  78. Oh…I’m so sorry for your loss, but you’re right..he is definitely in doggy heaven enjoying himself :)

  79. Cooper sounds like a lovely. loyal and loved dog, and I’m so sorry for your loss. Someone I know is fond of saying that dogs are a force for good in the world, and I really believe that to be true. Glad you were blessed with Cooper for as long as you had him. I’m going to hug my dog now.

  80. Elyse I’m so sorry to hear about Cooper. I hope he took Chester along for the ride to Switzerland. Sending big ((hugs)).

  81. A moving tribute, thoughtfully articulated. Nicely done!

  82. What a beautiful tribute to Cooper! A wonderfully written, great illustration of who and how he was! Have you read the book “Art of Racing in the Rain”?

    • Thanks for your nice comment, Tawny. I haven’t heard of the book, but I just looked it up on Amazon. I have to admit that I love to write up my dog stories but I hardly ever read them — it never works out well for the dog in the end. I’ve never gotten over Old Yeller’s death when I was six. Cooper is the 7th dog I’ve lost, and while I think that the love you get from your dog is worth the pain you feel when you lose him, I try not to lose other peoples dogs too! My heart just can’t take it!

      • I totally understand and feel the same about dog books in general! This one was written from the perspective of the dog, and a quite funny dog at that. He often obsesses about not having opposable thumbs and a palate shaped the wrong way to be able to form human words. It is the ending (and the profound lessons weaved into the story) that is the best of any dog book I have ever survived! It is how I choose to believe it goes as my 12 year old lab mixes and I are muttering through “aging dog” together for my first time.

        • That sounds terrific, actually (the book, not facing the aging factor). But I’m currently working on a book about my psychotic alcoholic German Shepherd and I want to keep myself “pure” until I finish. This book will go on my list though. OF course, I need to finish my book….

  83. What a beautiful story , and condolence to you. RIP Copper.

  84. Reblogged this on Kusadasishopper and commented:
    I just had to share this. Wonderfully written and just so beautiful.

  85. Beautiful memory. I have recently lost my precious pet. Losing at pet is at least as painful as losing a human.

    • Thanks Diana,

      It really is harder in ways to lose a pet — partially I think it’s because of the unconditional love/total devotion. But also because they are always there. When they’re gone you feel their absence whenever you walk in the door. Me, I fought with Cooper who insisted on being silently behind me whenever I cooked dinner. Now I keep looking for him and am sad that I am now sure I won’t trip over him!

      Thank you for stopping by.

  86. Pingback: Goodbye long, hot Summer | Food For Thought

  87. I was so sure Cooper was going to meet his end with the boar! Thank god he didn’t. Your writing completely captured me. RIP Cooper

  88. pinklightsabre

    That Eva Cassidy song’s the one

  89. Beautifully written. I could feel your tension reading it. RIP, Cooper.

  90. Having been a dog lover all my life, I am sincerely and deeply sorry for your loss, Elyse. I just now had to pause… to find the right words to describe how I felt when I read your tribute to Cooper. It’s one of the most beautifully moving, and engaging as it is heartbreaking, pieces of writing that I’ve ever read.

    It was truly brilliant Elyse, and just the other night I showed your post to my wife Jean, who has also been a dog lover all her life. She was moved to tears after she read it. She asked me to tell you on her behalf, that she is very sorry for your loss, and to thank you for so articulately expressing your feelings with such a well written story, since reading what you wrote, helped her to validate her own ongoing feelings of grief and loss, for our dog Bo.


    Chris AND Jean

    • Thanks, Chris and Jean.
      There was a New York Times article some months ago that said that it is harder to lose a pet than a parent. I think that is very true. Because my parents never jumped all over me and let me know that I hung the moon the way my dogs have. But nobody loves you the way your dog does. Nobody.

      I actually wrote this with Cooper still at my feet. The vet would come a few hours later, and I spent some time editing it after the fact. But the image of his happy, healthy face, bounding through those fields helped me immensely. And now, three months later, it still helps. I miss him, but I know he’s having a blast. And I know that he doesn’t hurt any more. The fact that I still do over losing him, well, that’s to be expected.

      Thanks for writing, both of you, and my sympathies on your loss of Bo, too.

      • Thanks for your sympathies for our loss of Bo, and thanks also for sharing with us that you wrote this post at that time, and under those circumstances. It makes your post even more deeply meaningful for me, and I know that my wife will feel the same way, only even more so, when she reads your reply.

        You wrote “But nobody loves you the way your dog does. Nobody.”

        I agree.

  91. I don’t know how I missed this back in August, but I’m glad to see it (with blurry eyes, part because of no glasses and part because of tears) now. Such a beautiful tribute.

    • Thanks, Deb. I miss my little friend. But thinking of him, running happily in that field made his passing just a slight bit less painful. Writing is amazingly healing!

  92. Precious, beautiful story. You told this so well I thought I could see Cooper in that field, wild boar and all.

  93. Pingback: Not the Olympics, the Oscars, or the Grammies, But It’s Still Worth Tuning in For… | Lorna's Voice

  94. I came over from Susie’s party and I’m so glad I did. What a beautiful, funny, and touching story! I can see both why you loved Cooper and how much he’s missed. Just gave my pup a hug in Cooper’s honor.

    • Thanks, Barb. Yes, I miss the furball. We are only now starting to think of our next reason to vacuum. Soon, I hope, I will need to do so most days!

      I enjoyed your story too. What a wild life!

  95. Wonderful story, Elyse! I really enjoyed your tribute to Cooper. Susie sent me today and I’m glad I clicked on your link.

  96. Great story about Cooper, thanks for sharing it on Susie’s blog!

  97. Susie sent me! Great post. :)

  98. Susie sent me. Great story!! I was once hiking through the woods in the Adirondack mountains of New York with my grandmother, and we ran into a bear! That was pretty heart-stopping, too.

    Maybe, in doggy heaven Cooper gives that wild boar what for every day! :-)

    • Mary iresponded to this comment ages ago. I wonder where it ended up!

      But it is amazing thAt you came face to face with a bear. I think that trumps our boar! And that you got to hike with your grandmother. So you were lucky in that you had both experiences!

  99. Stopped by from Susie’s place. This story squeezed at my heart. Hubby and I dread the day one of our girls goes to doggie heaven. :-( What an awesome tribute, though.

    • So glad you liked Cooper’s story, Kitt. It is one of the truths about dogs: While nobody loves you like your dog, they don’t do it for nearly as long as we’d like. Cooper had a great life and we loved him and miss him. We’re now starting to look for a new furball to love.

      • We actually got our 2nd one for 2 reasons. First, because we worked a lot & wanted her to have a companion. Second, we read somewhere that a second dog usually prolongation the life span of a dog by a couple years. That we’d absolutely adore them both was a given.

  100. Beautiful story. I’m glad you and Cooper survived to tell the tale. Do they attack people? I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way!
    Thanks for bringing it to the party!

    • Thanks for being such a great hostess!

      I don’t know if wild boar go out of their way to attack people. But if the dog they want to kill is behind a person, I am sure all bets are off!

  101. Pingback: Feature Friday: FiftyFourandAHalf | Stuphblog

  102. super sweet and beautifully written. just came over from twin daddy. :)

  103. Cooper touched my heart today as I was reminded of you sending me the link. So sorry it took me so long to get to reading this story. Life gets in the way and we do not stop to enjoy the most joyous of experiences and many of those times are with our precious animals. Linus has taken a turn more toward senior citizen. He is 14.5 years old and has decided he will not walk with me any longer. I am hoping the arthritis medicine will help. He is asleep right now. He is precious and I love him so. Thank you for your beautiful post.

    • So sorry to hear that your Linus has turned that corner. It was so hard for us with Coops. But I really do like to think of him as running in that field. It helps me miss him less. And now we are at last starting to look for someone new to

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