Some dogs arrive at the Bridge unexpected, some arrive on schedule, and some always seem to be on the cusp of arrival. Cooper was one of those dogs. He was expected here several times during my tenure, and it is my understanding he was expected even before I arrived.
During his short life Cooper survived IMHA, Polycythemia, and hypothyroidism, but when a large mass was discovered in his chest there was no avoiding his fate. Despite thousands of prayers, and a herculean effort by his Mom, Cooper joined me at the Bridge Thursday.
Cooper was only five years old when he passed, the same age that my first sister Blake was when my parents lost her. Converted to human that’s 35 years, a very short life span. I think that’s why dog age gets converted to human years. It’s not important that I passed at 91 or that Tommy passed at the human age of 119, but when you learn that Cooper was just 35 it becomes clear how tragic his passing was.
Hundreds of Cooper’s friends were there to greet him when he finally arrived at the Bridge. Any dog tough enough to avoid the Calling as long as Cooper had is very respected here. While happy he was no longer in pain, feeling better than he had any time in his mortal life, he was still very concerned about his Mom. “When you are a sick dog,” he said, “which I was for most of my life, you become so close to your Mom. You cling to her for life, and she gave up everything, money, time, her own health, for me And I left her,” he said with a slight sob. We all hugged him, and then quickly got him fitted for his wings then flew him up to Tommy’s so he could watch over his Mom.
But, as I sat there and watched his still grieving family, I made other plans. Plans that I was told I should never make again. But I am a Yorkie, a Terrier, and I just can’t help doing things I’m not supposed to do. I grabbed Cooper and told him we had someone else to meet and then I had him fly with me straight up the mountain.
We landed outside the Big Guy’s castle. Cooper said he would wait outside but I took him by the paw and lead him inside. Like a good boy Cooper sat and put his head down. I walked right up and stood at the foot of The Big Guy’s desk.
“Welcome Cooper,” the Big Guy said, ignoring me. “I hope you found everything here to your satisfaction.” Cooper just nodded. “I am sorry for the circumstances that brought you here. We strive to have every being we send to Earth be perfect, but sometimes a few cells are calculated incorrectly and that’s all it takes. I am very sorry. But usually, when that happens, other cell changes happen, and that is why, from everything I have heard about you, you are the perfect dog.”
Cooper again nodded and then the Big Guy asked him to come around to his side of the desk and sit in his lap. (Dear Aunt Foley: Have you ever been asked to go around to the other side of the bed and sit in The Big Guy’s lap? Answer: Nope, not once.) Cooper did as he was instructed and climbed up on his lap. The Big Guy then took a measuring stick and measured my friend then jotted down some numbers.
“According to my calculations,” he said “in your five years you have received 18 years of love. Your life may have been short, but if you measure your life in love, you lived a good long life. There are many dogs in shelters, or bad homes, who live into their teens, but don’t experience a year of love. So when we measure a year in a life, how about love?”
Cooper thanked him, and the Big Guy told him to hurry back down to Tommy’s house. I nodded to him as he went by, and stayed at the bottom of the desk, tapping my paw.
“Yes Foley?” he asked.
“Measure in love?” I asked. “That was from the musical Rent! Have you been reduced to quoting Broadway shows?”
“I created music, I created the composer, so I believe that I can safe quote the show, which is about people living with, living with, living with, not dying from disease.”
“You just quoted it again!” I said, suspecting the Big Guy was cleverly distracting me with showtunes.
“That particular musical is about young people, suffering illnesses, but making the best of life, knowing they only have a short time left. I think it is apropos.. Plus the young man who wrote that musical, he died, at the age of 35, which, if my calculations are correct, would have made him five in dog years. So, the young man who cleverly suggested to measure your life in love, had the same lifespan as Cooper. So, the next time you come up here to complain about the death of someone so young, instead of measuring their lives in years, measure it in love.”
I knew it was time to leave. I slowly made my way down the mountain thinking of what the Big Guy said. Maybe we should measure our time in love and not in seconds, minutes, hours, and years. We certainly would consider that we lived a long time if we did.
But more seconds, minutes, hours and years would be nice.