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Cooper in Autumn
Rest In Peace, October 9, 2009

Age has sprayed his muzzle gray;
Scooped hollows behind his eyes;
Slackened his shoulders and belly;
And undermined the legs that used to hold him
So reliably upright.

Once a proud protector,
He grows dependent like a child,
Yet like an old man endures spells of shapeless unease
And a daily parade of pills.

We no longer require or expect
The niceties of housetraining,
Though we feel his embarrassment
When his body betrays him.

His wanderings have dwindled to a slow, shaky circuit
Aided by a sling and our constant attention;
Still, he gives his patient, sniffing scrutiny
To grass, stones, shrubs,
The air itself in his shrinking world.

Nose faintly quivering,
Does he still feel the call of a young dog’s passions,
Or does he sense a deeper, beckoning voice
When he stands to face the autumn wind?

--Poem by Richard Johnston

We adopted Cooper, who was more than ten-years-old, from Hope’s Haven, a wonderful sanctuary in Salem, Ore. Despite enduring years of abuse, Cooper was the most loving and trusting dog. We were privileged to share the last four years of his life with him. He brought us so much joy. He was loved by everyone he met.

Richard and Trisha Johnston live in the hills outside of McMinnville, Ore. They are committed to adopting rescued animals. Their rescue family includes Buzz and Berklee, Terrier-mixes; Rocket and Larry, llamas; Bridget and Daisy, donkey mother and daughter; and Flake, the Cockatiel. Cooper is dearly missed by all of them.
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Submitted by Shana | November 19 2009 |

This was a lovely tribute to Cooper. I am so glad he was able to spend the last few years of his life in a loving home, finally with the attention and lifestyle he and all animals deserve!!

Submitted by Julie Clayton-West | November 19 2009 |

A beautiful poem Richard ... for a beautiful canine soul. God bless Cooper.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 20 2009 |

I'm tearing up...that was beautiful. Our family recently adopted our first dog, a 2 1/2 year old mixed breed named Dixie. I anticipate growing close to her as you have to Cooper.

Submitted by Alexei | November 22 2009 |

Thank you for opening your home to an animal in need.
I'm sure that Cooper was as much a blessing to your family as you were to him.
God Bless You.

Submitted by Regina | November 23 2009 |

You so eloquently also captured my Toby in his last days! Thank you for these accurate images of an aging dog.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 1 2009 |

I'm especially appreciative of this as we go into another winter with our 15-year-old Maizie (when people ask what kind of dog she is, I say "A brown one.") She's seemed near death about 6 times in the past year, but right now she's enjoying every minute and we treasure our time with her.

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