Saturday, September 21, 2013
BRANDY COOPER, R.I.P. - A Beloved Dog Celebrated
Brandy, a red-coated Golden Retriever, came to us in the summer of 2000, then a one-year-old Alpha female. We had moved to the countryside and obtained her from a family whose children could not control her. She had breezed through obedience school without becoming obedient. We had a dog trainer give her a couple of extra lessons, without noticeable effect.
Off the leash, she would run away. On the leash, she would pull, urging us on when going for a walk, resisting being brought back. The first year or so, she would fetch, as befits a Golden Retriever, but then she decided that she wouldn’t return the objects and so became a Golden Receiver.
She knew lots of commands, obeyed those she liked. “Go to the kitchen” was far less effective than “Go to the kitchen. There’s food in your dish.”
She protected our home and, especially, my wheelchair-bound, bedridden wife, Tina, who was quadriplegic during Brandy’s last ten years. Until Brandy lost her bark at thirteen, she would raise the alarm when strangers approached our house. None wanted to test whether her bark was worse than her bite. Our nurses, especially those serving the over-night shift, were reassured by her presence, and even several of them who never owned dogs themselves became quite fond of her, and she of them.
After our neighbor’s Japanese police dog, Ace the Akita, died, Brandy became the local boss. Not only did she assert herself with respect to the community pooches, but when a visiting Pit Bull Terrier challenged her while we were walking, Brandy put him in his place, finally grabbing one of his front legs and holding it off the ground, immobilizing him until his owner came to rescue him.
At home, she largely oriented herself with respect to Tina, often sleeping in the hall right outside her room or in her room itself. While Tina was still paraplegic, Brandy refused to play tug-of-war with her, though happy to play it with our son Phil or with me. Somehow, Brandy knew Tina needed special treatment.
Brandy was my personal trainer and I hers. Our mile-long walks around Lake Osiris typically took twenty minutes, until the last couple of years when they stretched to nearly thirty. I was retired, and so was she.
Brandy and our younger son, Phil, were buddies. She greeted him excitedly on his near-monthly visits. She was less fond of me, treating me as a partner, or as the boss she wished she could be.
She figured out that if she barked by the kitchen door to the porch, a nurse or I would let her go there, but when she wanted to go outside, beyond the porch, she would stand back from the kitchen door and bark; she would refuse to let a nurse put her on the porch, whence she could not summon me to take her for a walk.
Brandy almost did not survive autumn a year ago, developing great difficulty in walking, eventually helped with regular anti-inflammatory and pain-killing medicines. We felt we got an “extra” year of life for her, with the help of our vets. We knew we were skating on thin ice, however,
Thursday, 19 September 2013, Brandy ate and drank little or nothing, a rare occurrence previously. Lying on the porch, she would not get up for our ten p.m. walk, a worrisome sign, and eight hours later she was still in the same position. The morning of the 20th I called the local vet‘s office, discussed our options. A pet ambulance came, and the aides gently put her aboard. I followed them. At the veterinary hospital, I discussed the case with Dr. Dasaro. Brandy was running a fever, which they were going to treat with intravenous feeding and antibiotics, after performing a blood test. I received a call the next morning that Brandy was not recovering, and she died later than day.
If there is a place for the souls of very good dogs, Brandy’s will be there.