Goodbye, sweet boy – Digging

October 23, 2022

Our very good boy Cosmo crossed over the rainbow bridge on Tuesday. I miss him so much. From age 3, when we brought him home from a rescue group, to age 14, he brought joy and amusement and comfort to our lives.

Cosmo was a sweet, excitable, eager-to-please, 3-year-old pup described as a bichon frisé mix when we adopted him. He quickly settled into our lives and our hearts. A squeaky hedgehog and a snake toy were his favorite playthings, and he delighted in parading those around and play-bowing to get us to chase him. He eluded us lumbering humans with ease, toying with us. But if we ever managed to snatch a toy away, he’d freeze, watching intently and waiting for us to throw it, and then he’d sprint after it. Other times he’d impassively observe the stolen toy bouncing down the hall. Game over!

Cosmo was my constant companion in the garden — if the weather was cool. Hot weather was unacceptable to him — one of the many bonds of sympathy between us — and he’d whine and scratch at the door to be let in even if I was busily digging in the dirt, sweat dripping from my nose. He was no fool.

When I built seat walls in the back garden, he delighted in leaping onto them and perching like the king of the castle. I missed seeing him do this in later years, as his hips and back started giving him trouble.

Cosmo was sturdily built, with soft and curly white fur, and he often seemed to be smiling.

He enjoyed being off-leash in dog-friendly parks and while going to check the mailbox with me, and he never ran away. If he wandered too far, as soon as I called to him he’d stop and look at me and then turn to rejoin me — slowly perhaps, with an air of reluctance. But if I patted my knee and encouraged him with a high-pitched, “Come on, boy!” he’d wag and smile and run over to me.

In addition to Come, he obeyed Sit, Stay, and Down, training that some previous owner had imparted. I always hoped he’d been well loved in his life before us, and that he was a rescue only because his person had reluctantly given him up — maybe to go into assisted living, I imagined, or maybe it was someone who passed away. He was happy and well behaved and even had vet records from his puppy years when we adopted him, so surely he was loved as a little guy. He just needed someone new to love him, and we did.

Cosmo was a champion napper, but with one ear always cocked for the refrigerator door opening. Sandwich-making sounds would bring him trotting into the kitchen, but not for a bite of ham or cheese. He lived for a crunchy leaf of lettuce above all other foods. He also relished raw carrots, broccoli, and green pepper — anything with a good crunch. He turned up his nose, however, at chunks of apple or zucchini. Kale, arugula, and spinach were also sore disappointments, left limp and slobber-soaked on the tile floor.

Although he disliked the heat of the Death Star, he’d often lie by the fireplace, especially if someone else was lying there too.

He adored his grandma, who kept him at her place with her own dog, Lola, when we traveled. The car ride over was great fun, arrival was fun, and especially fun was that Grandma didn’t mind dogs on the couch or bed. He was a lucky pup to have such a doting grandma.

While “let’s go check the mail” and “let’s go for a car ride” were joyous phrases, Cosmo’s absolute favorite was “let’s go for a walk!” He trotted eagerly around the block or, on especially happy occasions, around Lady Bird Lake. Squirrels, deer, and rabbits were invisible to him. I never saw him display any interest whatsoever in common neighborhood critters, even when I pointed them out. I tried siccing him on rock squirrels in the backyard when they showed up, to no avail. Only once did I see him rrrrrrruff and charge at an animal — just last month, actually: an armadillo rustling around the Mexican honeysuckle one night when I took him out before bed. How odd, I thought, watching with surprise. He lost interest, however, as soon as the ‘dillo trundled under the shrubbery.

Toward the end he began to lose his balance and tripped on the stairs inside and out. His back legs trembled from time to time. A ramp helped for a while, as did other compensatory measures for other old-age problems.

He experienced a swift decline this fall, and eventually we had to say goodbye. It was so hard. I keep looking for his face in the window when I’m outside, listening for his sharp bark when a UPS delivery arrives, waiting for his tip-tapping into the kitchen when I open the lettuce bin, expecting to feel his warm fur when I put my feet down beside the bed in the morning. When I’m running errands I look at the clock and think, “How long has Cosmo been waiting for me to come home?” And then I remember that he’s not waiting anymore.

I want to remember him like this, in his prime, happy and healthy. I know that eventually it’ll get easier. He was a good dog, and he was ours. And we were his.

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Digging Deeper

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All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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