Coco, our much loved miniature dachshund and Walt-the-dog’s companion, had a massive seizure which began on the kitchen floor and continued while I held her. I strapped her in against my chest with the seat belt assuring her all the way to the emergency clinic that she was a “Good dog.”
The seizure stopped. I remained hopeful.
The vet diagnosed a brain tumor. The seizures started up again . The only humane option was to have her put to sleep. As she died I told her how much she was loved.
The last time Thorin saw her was when he left for camp in the morning and three hours later when I picked him up she was gone. Walt had died in January. Ward and I hoped Coco would stay around a while longer but we knew at 15 years old anything could happen. I knew Thorin had not even considered it a possibility.
We sat in the car before going into the house:
“Thorin, while you were at camp Coco got very sick. So sick I took her to the animal hospital” I said.
He slumped in his seat.
I continued: “The vet said she was in pain and was not going to live. A few minutes later she died.”
After a moment he said: “Coco died, too.”
“She did. I am so sorry.”
He changed course: “No, Coco alive.”
“Thorin, I was there and I have a hard time believing it, too.” I shared.
“Shaky inside” he said.
“I know, Sweetheart.”
Then he started laughing and caught himself short before it turned to tears. I asked if we could talk: “Not now” he said. I suggested we pile on the bed with electronic devices.
About 45 minutes later he got up and pointed at Clara’s house across the street: “”Clara house me say Coco died.”
I thought that was brilliant. That’s what we all do –we tell people who will understand our hurt and help us.
Clara, who is a professional child whisperer, gave Thorin two balloons writing ‘Walt” on one and ‘Coco’ on the other. She encouraged him to let them go so they could be together and he did.
She was the comedic side-kick to the more reserved Walt. She was enthusiastic and silly. Ward and Thorin came up with two expressions based on Coco. Instead of ‘Chicken Butt’ they said: “Coco Butt”. If someone did something zany or comical they would exclaim: “That’s a total Coco!”
She was Walt’s dog. We got her for him. They were life partners—the kind that never shared a harsh word. Ward and I often wondered what would happen to one without the other. After Walt died I saw that adage that dogs live in the present didn’t apply to Coco. She grieved deeply.
Then she did something quite unexpected. She became a German shepherd. She started following me from room to room including the bathroom. She slept at my feet while I wrote. She became protective of Thorin and would sleep curled against him.
I am convinced she died as much from having a tumor as she did from being heartbroken. She stayed just as long as she could.
Thorin’s grief is different than it was for Walt. He could not believe it. He could not experience it. For a few days he insisted she was alive. Then he would break into sobs because I parked the car too far from the entrance or I asked him to put his shoes on. He said over and over again: “Not now.”
I treaded lightly. I shared a few words about how I felt. I let him know he could take his time. I reminded him how he said good bye to her that morning: “You gave her a kiss and said, I love you.”
Clara-the-Child-Whisperer had given Thorin a stuffed animal of a dog that looked like Walt. It helped Thorin. Why reinvent the wheel. I found a stuff animal that looked like Coco.
I told Thorin before I opened the box: “I have something that may help you.”
He pulled out Coco’s doppelganger: “Oh, Coco!” and began kissing and hugging her.
“Is it okay I got this for you?”
“Thank you, Mom.”
He laid on his bed holding her.
“Do you need time alone?”
I left, quietly closing the door behind me. I could hear him telling Coco in a soft voice, “I love you Coco. I love you.”
He came out about 20 minutes later. He didn’t want to talk.
Coco and Walt lay together now in his room very much like they used to.