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.