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Saying goodbye to Copper

Saying goodbye to Copper

Copper, our 14 year-old English Springer Spaniel, was a devoted member of our family. We just said goodbye to him. And it’s tough…really tough!

Before Copper, there was Shadow, a cocker spaniel, who we suspected was the offspring of two first cousins. Needless to say, that dog experience was less than stellar, so we vowed to get it right the next time. After months of research and investigation, we were ready to go puppy shopping.

Armed with How to Pick a Puppy for Dummies, we headed out to “meet the parents,” a condition that was non-negotiable to us. Copper was in a litter of four male puppies and just six-weeks-old when we first met. His parents were pure bred springers who were both good natured and friendly. Using our book’s checklist, we ran the puppies through their paces. The first one to approach is typically the alpha male and since we already had a human alpha male in the house, we moved on to evaluate the others. Since Springers are an energetic breed, our family mutually decided on Copper.

At eight weeks, Labor Day weekend 2000, we went to pick up Copper. Our How to Raise a Puppy book suggested bringing him home in a blanket-lined box. We followed that direction and were no sooner on the road when he jumped out and was nearly impossible to hold on to during the drive! It was a long ride home—we were all a little harried, but very happy. And yes, upon arrival, we promptly tossed the book into our recycling bin.

To say that Copper was a mischievous puppy would be an understatement. He chewed the wallpaper off of our island counter in the kitchen and managed to destroy most of the metal strip on the side of our fridge—we’re still trying to figure out how he did that! One of his favorite tricks was to bound down the basement steps and present dirty underwear to dinner guests—he loved smelly socks as well.   More than once during his first year—mean mom (me)—threatened to send him back to his biological parents.

Truth be known—for nearly 13 years, Copper never realized that he wasn’t a puppy.  He’d race around the backyard trying to catch bunnies or squirrels or chatting with his dog buddy next door. He never wanted to be too far away from his “pack.” If the family was outside, Copper would literally be springing two feet into the air until we let him out the back door.

This past December, we began to notice his decline. Copper no longer could get up and down the stairs and his once agile legs would give out on him often. He was still the loving, attentive dog he always had been, eagerly greeting us and any visitors to the house but his “bad” days were increasing. We celebrated his 14th birthday on July 6, 2014 with a special party featuring his favorite foods—scrambled eggs, cheese and popcorn while singing Happy Birthday at the top of our lungs hoping he could still hear us—off key as it was.

Six days later, he couldn’t get up—his legs could no longer support his weight. The vet confirmed that severe arthritis had rendered his legs useless and his liver was failing. As Copper’s “health care power of attorney,” we knew we must do the right thing.

We said our goodbyes with hugs, tears and thanks for being the best dog ever! We miss you Copper and while your loss is so very hard, our family will treasure the years you spent with us.

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32 Comments

  1. This is touching! Thanks for sharing Linda…

  2. Jeremy Apolinski July 21, 2014 at 9:42 am · Reply

    That picture is so cute!

  3. Thank you for sharing Linda. It’s all so true how these pets become a member of the family, and although not nearly the same as a person, it still is hard and know all too well what you and your family is feeling.

  4. Linda,

    Thank you for sharing I am so sorry for your loss. Pets will definately leave memories

  5. Debbie Robinson July 21, 2014 at 11:47 am · Reply

    Linda,
    Your story was my story last year at this time. Our dog Stella was born in 2000 and for all practical purposes, our third child for 13 years. She was loyal, funny, sweet, gentle and I still miss her. Now that the sting is gone, those moments that spark a memory are special!

  6. With a tear in my eye and a heart full empathy, I thank you for sharing Copper’s story and your very difficult loss. Copper was very forunate to be loved so well.

  7. Thanks for sharing! Sorry for your loss. I still miss my childhood dog, Sammy.

  8. Shannon Homolka July 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm · Reply

    So sorry for your loss Linda. Dogs are definitely angels on earth. Now you have one waiting in heaven for you. I’m sure Copper is up there playing with my dog, Mocha.

  9. Thanks for sharing, Linda and sorry for your loss. My “puppy” is four years old. He is our first “puppy” and we love him SO much. We enjoy every minute with him. He is truly a member of our family.

  10. Sorry for your loss Linda. I had to put down my 16 yr old beagle in December, and it was definitely the hardest thing I had to do. I totally understand how you and your family are feeling.

  11. I know how hard this is for you and your family, Linda. I was so blessed to finally meet Copper just last month–and you have been blessed with sharing 14 years with your little puppy dog. He was cute, friendly (and patient!) and lucky to have you as his forever loving family.

  12. Such a sweet story and adorable dog Linda. Thank you for sharing your story. Copper’s legacy will live on….

  13. With a few tears running down my cheek, I read your story with such heart-felt emotion. I too, know the pain, turmoil, heartbreak & emptiness that the loss of a beloved pet brings. Our 2nd dog, a Choc. Lab turned 11 yrs in April. Having been through the loss of our first dog (Black Lab who lived to 13-1/2 yrs) I don’t want to go through this again-but-know it’s going to happen eventually. So love, love, love is all we do. But please keep in mind that you gave Cooper a beautiful life-what else can our beloved pets ask for? My thoughts/prayers to you & your family.

  14. That was a beautiful tribute to Copper, Linda. Our sheltie is 16 years old and losing the use of his legs as well. I suspect that he may also be suffering from arthritis. Your blog was wonderful timing and I plan to share your story with my family to help us prepare for the inevitable. Thank you for sharing your story.

  15. Well, that sure was a tear jerker! Sorry for your loss but glad to hear that you had such a wonderful pack member in your life!

  16. Annette Winston July 21, 2014 at 8:48 pm · Reply

    When our Zack was 17, we had to make the same decision. It was such a difficult thing to do, and it took me 5 years to say it was OK to have a dog again. I just didn’t think I could handle the grief. I brought him home and buried him in the back yard, the one we are now leaving. I put a little headstone there that reads, Zack (birth/date dates) and “The best dog we ever knew.” So you understand why Barry and I both cried when I read this to him.

  17. Linda, I’m so sorry for your loss. As a fellow dog lover, we’ve three at our home, I know how hard it is because they are such a happy part of our familes. I had to laugh at the items that Copper chewed or presented to guests. Cocoa, our Chocolate Lab, loved to chew odd items as well…cell phones, TV remotes, woodwork, etc. She still eats socks and underwear. All the same, we love her, and find joy in her being a part of our family. I know that you’ll be missing Copper for a long time, but look at photos and treasure the memories.

  18. Oh this story makes me so sad. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  19. Linda–thank you for sharing your powerful and poignant story. Dogs are really so healing and sensitive even when they carry around your dirty laundry and eat your furniture! Blessings as you remember and celebrate Copper’s life.

  20. Thank you for sharing Linda. I am so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is when you loose a beloved pet. I just had to put down my 16 year old Chihuahua Destiny. She was suffering in much the same way as your Copper. I try to remember all the Love and Joy she brought to me and know that she is no longer in pain. Our fur babies are running and playing at the Rainbow Bridge.

  21. Ernst Lamothe Jr July 23, 2014 at 10:29 am · Reply

    I appreciate you sharing your story. I know my wife had a dog more than a decade ago and she still misses her.

  22. Touching Linda-
    We are getting in to the same aging stages with our beloved Wheaten Terrier Kasey.
    We are all “IN LOVE” with her and it is going to be grueling for us to see her decline.
    I know many who have been through it in the last few years. Worst part about having a dog that you love so much!!! But still worth all the great times and sweetness!
    Kristen Malin

  23. Abby Georgacopoulos July 23, 2014 at 11:40 am · Reply

    So sorry for your loss Linda – I know how difficult it is to make that decision, but you do it out of love – I believe our pets know and feel that. Cherish the happy memories!

  24. Copper is at Rainbow Bridge with my Baby (chihuahua). Sorry for your loss.

  25. Thank you for sharing your story. Copper sounds like a wonderful guy! I’m so sorry for your lose. I’ll never forget the comment made to me a few years back when I lost my cat of 14 years–“You cared for her and she knew it. You loved her and she knew it. You miss her and she knows it.”

  26. Beautifully written Linda. My niece and nephew lost their Patton yesterday. She was their pillar of strength through the years. It is so very difficult to lose our faithful companions.

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Our family is overwhelmed and deeply touched by the support and kind words from so many people. While we view our loss with proper perspective, we are still saddened when Copper’s sweet face and wagging tail doesn’t greet us at the door. This is a hard adjustment for all of us, but we know our lives were enriched when he joined our family. We will always remember Copper with love and affection!

  28. Kind thoughts to you and your family for your loss. I lost my dog Chiquita, she was 11yrs old Boxer/Pit Bull, 4yrs ago to Lymphosarcoma, once diagnosed she declined rapidly. 3 months later she passed. It is still hard to hold tears back when I think about her. Just like Cooper, she wasnt the best behaved or trained, but she was mine and she was awesome.

  29. Linda, My husband and I have a springer spaniel and my in-laws just lost one in February. They’re an amazing breed and I know what you’re going through. We always say that springers had to have been human in their past lives. I’m sure Copper brought you many smiles thorughout his long life. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  30. It is a little over two years ago that we had to have our dog Lucy put to sleep. She was a wonderful West Highland terrior with a great personality to match. She was sixteen years old and had become deaf about two years before. She then developed doggie dementia and no longer knew us. We would come home and to our dismay she no longer greeted us at the door. Our daughter, who is in vet school, told us its about time to put her at rest. Although its been two years, I still think about Lucy. It was a cold day in January with snow on the ground the last day she spent with us. She seemed to know us that day for just a brief time, enough to say thanks with her eyes. I remember how she used to sit next to my daughter when she was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven. When it was time for her insulin shot, Lucy would sit with her to comfort her. I told myself I would never get that attached to a dog again, and now I find myself taking care of my daughter’s dog while she completes her rotations in vet school. When I was ten, my dog died and I asked my father if dogs go to heaven. His reply was, “How could there be a heaven without animals”. May you have comfort in feeling that your dog is in a special place waiting for you.

  31. So true I still miss REX 14 yr old Golden Retriever Sweetest dog I ever had he was my grandsons Best buddy 1986- 2000

  32. We’re so sorry to hear about the loss of your wonderful dog Copper. Our thoughts are with your family during this difficult time. Copper was one of the inspirations for getting a dog at our house. The kids loved looking after him and walking and playing with a dog that was so fun, loving and well behaved made having a dog seem easy. We will miss seeing Copper through the fence and Toby’s recent escapes from our yard seem to be looking for his dog buddy next door.


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About the Author

Linda Williger
Linda Williger

Linda Williger, health enews contributor, is a public affairs manager for Advocate Health Care. She loves spending time with her family, enjoying a good book and spending time outdoors, from music festivals in the park to Saturday morning walks.

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