I've spent the last week contemplating just how and when I'd have to tell people. I never expected it would be this soon, and there's no easy way to say it...Mr. Cooper has passed away. We said goodbye to each other on January 22nd. He went very peacefully and I was with him the entire time.
Other than an extremely minor thyroid condition last year (which simply resulted in a pill twice daily, his puppy pills, I called them as they seemed to turbo charge Coop), he’s been a symbol of terrific health. Strong as an ox, he would still run laps around the skateboard park, and was happy as could be.
As some of you know, last Monday night, the 11th, Cooper had a cough. Tuesday he was extremely inactive, still coughing but to a much lesser degree. I made attempts to get him into see our vet, there were also calls to an ER...Our vet was full that day and the ER didn't think he needed to come in. Wednesday I had a photoshoot. Thursday morning he seemed to be getting stronger as the days passed. I thought it might have just been a cold. Nevertheless, we had our vet appointment mid day Thursday(14th). Within a few hours the Doctor called to tell me that Cooper's X-rays showed he was suffering from extensive cancer in his lungs. She would also tell me that the cancer came from somewhere else in his body, that it had been spreading. He also had full blood work done, which came back completely perfect - the very same blood work that had been done multiple times over the past year to double check his thyroid, each time showing perfect health. The Doctor thought he might have a month left. I picked up additional medication for him later that day. It really seemed to help. Cooper was no longer coughing, his energy and personality were back. It was encouraging.
I started making a list of what could be our last NY adventures.
1. Shake Shack Extravaganza: Burgers, Fries, and of course a Poochtini
2. East River Ferry to Dumbo
3. Tintype Portrait with the two of us at the Penumbra Foundation. It was the first thing we did two years ago when we got to NY. I always kicked myself for not getting one of both of us.
4. I also contacted a professional dog photographer. His fame still had room for growth!
5. I wanted to enjoy one last playful romp in the snow.
In my mind, these all seemed attainable.
We would have our last terrific outing on the 16th. It was a lovely, crisp fall-like day. Chelsea and I got our lunch and the three of us headed to the park. We were all entertained by an outdoor puppy obedience class. As Coop soaked up the warm sunlight, I told Chelsea how Cooper was actually a drop out of puppy classes at the Petco. Clearly this had no ill effects, as we all know he was perfect. We got a good chuckle out of that. A little girl and her dad came over to meet Cooper. He was as sweet as you would expect of him. I've always been so proud of Mr. as he's been so good to all of my nieces and nephews (blood related or not) and great to strangers of all sizes. Such a gentle boy. I had a little photoshoot with Cooper. Along this colorful wall, and at the water at his favorite park in Brooklyn. It was a good day. He was so happy. I'm so happy we have these memories. Thankfully, he and I got to play in the little snow we got on the 17th, so that was nice.
The next few days would vary, OK to good. Wavering levels of energy and effort in walking, but his spirit and playfulness in the apartment were without a doubt present. His birthday on the 19th would arrive, along with homemade peanut butter treats via Chelsea, and plans for a small celebration on the 23rd As my folks were planning to come to NY. Overnight, Cooper became very lethargic, the coughing returned, his interest in food or drink disappeared and we waited day by day hoping that this was just a bad day.
Tomorrow would be better. It wasn't.
Tomorrow would be better. It wasn't.
Friday would come, he was ready. I wasn't.
I keep telling myself that either he's been sick for awhile now, and showed absolutely zero signs of anything being wrong or this whole situation happened just within the past few weeks and he didn't suffer much.
Oh Cooper...even as a pup he has always been a steadying presence in my life. He and I had a wonderful 11 years together. Beginning as two young gents at The Ohio State University. There's nothing quite like having the most adorable puppy on campus, always ready, willing, and able to stop twenty people on High Street. He's always had such a wonderful temperament and interest in people and I've always believed it's because of our house, my great friends who were so terrific with him. Thank you guys. Seriously.
My office career was short lived, but Cooper would often join me at the AIA offices. Providing much needed enjoyment to my desk job. Have you ever seen him in a neck tie? Hot damn, he looked 👌.
We went on so many road trips...of course the years of back and forth between Columbus and DC. But we would keep it lively and stop at all sorts of different small towns along the way. Check out a cool old suspension bridge in Wheeling or run around at Cheat Lake, Cooper's Rock State Park, and scenic overlooks as we'd make our way through beautiful western Maryland. We kept it fresh. One of my favorite trips was our midnight ride to Chicago to see Adam and AK only to be kicked out of Millennium Park at 5am as Cooper bounced around on the lawn like the happiest kangaroo.
‘12HOUR Chicago’, exhausting but so worth it.
A few years back we did this amazing DC > Columbus, OH > Columbus, IN, Chicago > Columbus, OH road trip. It was pretty much the perfect mix of work, friends, and just being out there. Or the time we drove to Ithaca to photograph a lovely little modern house in the fresh snow. We were both honored guests and as I worked he alternated between romps in the snow and cozy snuggles next to the fireplace. It's hard to state exactly how much Cooper loved the snow. When it came to playing in the snow, he has no equal. I really wish he could have enjoyed this blizzard. Our road trips to Nashville, were always super enjoyable. We always missed the Dinosaur theme park but I blame them for having poor road signage. We made up for it this past year by visiting the Yogi Bear Campgrounds in Pennsylvania. Or the time we went to Harper's Ferry. Trying our best to see as many of the C&O Canal Locks as we could. We walked all around town and then Cooper went absolutely wild on this amazing foot bridge. It's one of my favorite photos of him.
Cooper was always supportive of my work. Anytime I got new gear or lighting, he was always a willing model. That support carried to my architectural work. There are few people that can say they've been to Fallingwater, Saarinen's church in Columbus, Gettysburg Cyclorama, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Memorial, WW2 Memorial, National Gallery of Art (look at us, we lived in DC), Prentice Hospital, Baltimore's finest brutalist buildings such as Mechanic Theater and McKeldin Fountain, Ohio Historical Center, Paul Rudolph's Orange County Gov Center, and so many more. Cooper carried himself with such grace and class, his stoic modeling skills would always elevate any Instagram to new heights. I would even put him to work for my commercial shoots. He was the star in a photoshoot at our Ohio's vet office. Upon awarding the project with the highest possible honors, the juror commented, "great design...and I'm just a sucker for handsome Labradors!"
I'm so grateful how so many people understood just how special he is. From all the shops in the Short North, specifically our friends Brian and Laura at Short North Piece of Cake, to Bonnie at UPS, Three Dog Bakery, Chase Bank, MoJoe Lounge, Press Grill, and obviously Lincoln Street Studio (a 2nd home to both of us). I used to joke I could feed him just by taking him on a walk. Thank you for always making him feel welcomed and loved. It's kind of crazy that for a good 8 months he and I were pretty much homeless as we bounced around from job to job. This was affectionately known as the warehouse period, which was absolutely wonderful but realistically a little hard on both of us. But we had a blast roughing it at the raw, and very empty commercial space at Lincoln Street. He handled it so well. True Champion.
Having spent much of his life in urban Columbus, he never quite had those water dog experiences. Since moving back to the east coast he'd gotten to explore the joys of coastal living. Beaches! Boy did he love running around on the beaches of Maine. And when I took him to all those fancy houses in the Hamptons, he absolutely loved those vibes. He was a very luxurious pup. The whole concept of swimming, still loomed problematic but we had some funny reactions to waves. I had wanted to get Cooper to the Catskill Mountains and explore upstate NY more. The Carbones have history up in those parts and we needed to scope it out. We had several adventures in Rhinebeck, NY and did fun things like apple picking, and hiking here and there, craftsman art shows where if we're being honest Cooper stole the show.
I'm forever going to miss his big nose and perfect smile. He was my favorite pillow. His prancing walk, the tap tap tap of his nails as he plays. Hiking the C&O Canal without him just seems wrong. It was so cute how he loved the smells of my Dad's cooking. Or if there was a loud noise he'd go to my Dad. He really knew my Mom's weak spots. With just a look Tricia would be giving him more and more bacon, or worse nagging me to give him my bacon! :) I miss him greatly, I find myself instinctively looking for him behind me, or stopping myself just before I call for him...
I could go on forever, but in the end I'm really proud to have been as much his sidekick as he was mine.
If you have a memory or special story of Cooper, I would really love to hear it. If it's from college and perhaps not PG, a direct message or email might be better. haha