Maybe you saw something about it on Facebook, or maybe you’ve heard Jeff or me mention it lately…Cooper has been favoring his back right leg lately, walking with a slight limp. After a couple months of vet appointments, meds and monitoring his behavior, today we finally got the diagnosis.

If you know Cooper, you know he’s happiest when he’s jumping like a madman after a Frisbee, jogging around town, swimming like a fish or leaping into the back of the Jeep for a ride to the grocery store. He’s been my guard dog (ferocious as he is!) since May 2004 when I graduated from college and purchased my little $70,000 home in Midland. He was born in a barn in Au Gres, one of two black pups in a sea of golden siblings I found through a newspaper classified ad. He was whip-smart from the start, instantly house-trained and quick to pick up tricks: sit, speak, jump, play dead, you name it. He always clung to people instead of running around with other dogs, brushing them off like he felt like he was one of us instead of one of them. He followed me from Midland to Houston to Chicago to Indianapolis to Portland, with a three-month stop at my mom and dad’s place while I was overseas in Brussels. He’s flown in airplanes and road-tripped across the country several times. In 2006, he won the heart of Jeff and never let go. He was my training buddy for my first half-marathon earlier this year. All our future plans involve him: We are excited for our future kids to grow up with him, and we imagine moving to a lake so he can swim every day.

Right after I returned from the Olympics, we took Cooper to the vet, worried more about a big red bump on his underside than his leg. Blood was taken and deemed as healthy as a puppy’s. He tried anti-inflammatory meds for a week, which seemed to help. Off the meds, he went back to limping. We thought it might be a torn ligament, sort of the equivalent of a torn ACL in humans. But he still acted so happy, it didn’t seem like much could be wrong. X-rays said his leg looked okay, but something looked off in his pelvis. Looked moth-eaten. More x-rays, now focusing on his pelvis. And then his chest. Turns out, our sweet, 8-year-old dog has bone cancer. Aggressive. You’d never guess it from his near-constant doggy smile.

What’s next? Oncologist appointment on Monday, where we’ll learn more about the severity and treatment options – including the option of radiation therapy that same day. We’re trying to be optimistic but when the vet mentions eight months like it’s something to hope for…well, it just kills me. I just want him to stay happy. And to have lots of time to still take him to the ocean, take him to visit my nieces Ava and Macy, and for lots more long car rides.

Thank you to those who sent some prayers his way. If you get a moment, we’d love another for him. (And one for our neighbors Lindsay and Daniel, too. They’re still dealing with the sudden loss of their cat Slugger while they were away in Greece.)


  1. Houtman, Diane (B)

    I’m heartbroken to hear about Cooper. I know how much he means to you both. I will send prayers your way. Stay positive and give him lots of LOVE ☺

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