Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Heart Swell: A Tribute to Cooper

This is my first blog post in almost three years. 

You will all know by now the loss we suffered in last year when our 7 year old border collie, Cooper, was killed by a car on the road by our house.  The loss was and still is devastating.  I had intended this post for the anniversary of his death on Jan 12 - but I just wasn't ready to do it then.

The dog people of the world will know exactly what I mean when I refer to Cooper as a 'heart dog'.  Others may not.  This is the special dog in your life that touched you emotionally or spiritually in a way that other dogs have not done.  That does not mean you love your other dogs any less.  But there can be a dog that has a little something special that stands out to you.

The cool thing is that Cooper was considered a heart dog by both Cam and me.

I know Cooper was my heart dog because he made my heart swell on a very regular basis.  You know that feeling - you watch and your heart fills with so much love it feels like it will burst.  I would feel this heart swell during 'upside down time'.   In my opinion, 'upside down time' is what actually makes Cooper the heart dog.  He would lay on our laps upside down and sleep for hours.  Cooper had complete and total trust in us so he could be exposed in that way and know that he had nothing to worry about except getting loved too much.

I would lay in bed and stare lovingly at him, heart swelling (of course) and ask Cam 'do you think he knows how much we love him?'  Cam always said yes.  I would try to laser direct the heart swell emotion directly at Cooper - just so he would know.

My heart would swell watching him play with a stick or a rope toy on his own.  Even when four extra dogs were living with us and everyone was romping outside, Cooper would often beat to his own drum and while everyone else was laserbeamed onto a ball or Frisbee, he would be cavorting on the lawn with his own toy - tossing it in the air or rolling on the ground with it.

My heart would swell watching his joy playing in the snow and tossing a rock in the air & digging it out of the snow again.  There was no end to the ways he could cause my heart to swell.

And the heart swell feeling is one that I deeply miss.  I love all my dogs.  Molly, Neo and Trinity are my babies and they bring me joy every day.  But they don't bring me heart swell - at least not yet.  I have pondered on this.  Often these dogs do the very same things that Cooper used to do to bring that feeling upon me.

When I asked Cam about this, he was very matter of fact about it.  He said 'of course your heart won't swell - it is broken'.  I think he must be right.

But as the first anniversary went by, I am feeling hopeful that I will feel a heart swell again.  There have been a couple of times of late where I could feel a tiny little spark of the beginnings of it before it faded away.

So while I'm not quite there yet, my broken heart is on its way to getting patched up with the help of my other babies.  I am grateful every day for them.

I feel like I have turned a corner on this grief process, and I have hope that the heart swell will return.  I truly hope it does - God knows the dogs in my life today deserve it.

Cooper, I love you.  I miss you every day.  I wish always that Neo and Trinity could have met you.  I think you would have been great pals.  But such is the complexity of life in that if you had not gone away, I may not even have met them.

Life can be so confusing.

If you experience heart swell, cherish the feeling.  It may not always be there.  Hug your babies.

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