Taking Care of Your Older Dog… and Saying Goodbye

I have been postponing writing about this. The truth is I didn’t know how to start. Then today a friend had to say goodbye to their beloved pet of 12+ years. Her pain was unbearable and I could feel it. There is no easy way… so let’s just rip off the band-aid.

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Coco was no stranger to the beach where he would say “Hi” to everybody. 

When I rescued Coco the veterinary said he was between three and five years-old. I decided he was three years-old; that way in my mind he was going to stay with me for a long time. He was active, ran like the wind, and – oh – did he love the ocean. One time I was snorkeling maybe 25 feet off shore and suddenly he was next to me.

As years passed by my Coco started walking slower. My baby was not my baby anymore and Coco became an older dog. Suddenly he didn’t want to go into the ocean anymore. He weighed over 70 pounds (hey, he was a Labrador!) so putting him in the car got to be very difficult. So I bought those steps so he could get in the car and enjoy the rides… although he would not put his face out the window anymore. Coco would just lay still in the back of the car. I also noticed he would sleep most of the day, and then he started having accidents inside the house.

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Finding “treasures” near the tennis courts. 

What did I do? I don’t have a recipe of how to take care of older dogs – Coco was my first! I just tried my best to repay him for being “the best dog ever”. Coco basically helped me be a better rescuer; I don’t think I would have had so much success in training dogs to be better suitable for homes if it wasn’t for him. Now it was my turn to help him and to show him a lot of love. I also let him do whatever he wanted. “Oh, you want a piece of steak? There it is! Do you want to pee inside the house? Don’t worry, I will clean it. My first born? Here, you can have him!” Oh, and I kissed him. I kissed him a lot… Sometimes I think I over did it. But I knew the day was coming when I was not going to be able to kiss him anymore, so I didn’t care.

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Coco’s last picture taken on August 11th, 2019.

Coco passed away on August 12th, 2019. Sadly, I wasn’t there with him to say goodbye. I was out of Puerto Rico and I remember telling him “hold on until I come back.” But he had other plans. It seems like he did one final act of saving me from the pain of seeing his lifeless body. I get to remember him smiling and wagging his tail.

So this is my goodbye to you. Thank you for being such a wonderful dog. It was an honor and a privilege to be your mom. You brought happiness into my life and I learned about unconditional love because of you. You were the best dog ever.

“Who rescued who?”

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