Brothers from another mother, that’s how I’ve always thought of these two. Roscoe, a black lab I got from a breeder in IL, and Cooper a golden retriever mix that came from a friend who found the mom and three pups along side the road. Roscoe had a few years on Cooper when he showed up and it didn’t take long for Cooper to start following his new big brother, but his personality would be his own.
When I picked up Roscoe from the breeder I should have known what I was getting, but I don’t think I realized it. As the breeder told me about his operation the 20 minute four wheeler runs with the dogs morning and evening was a key piece of information. I would later realize what should have been obvious, Roscoe was active not so much on the social side but more on the ‘give me a job’ side. He had a hard time sitting still and always wanted to chase a ball, a fetching machine he was.
Some friends called us about picking up a golden retriever with three pups along side they road. They already had two dogs and were trying to find homes for the pups. Two of them survived and since we’d been thinking about getting Roscoe a companion we thought it was a good opportunity. They lived about an hour a way, Cooper was only about 8 weeks when we brought him home. He didn’t enjoy the ride, puked once, and for the first 24 hours didn’t leave the kitchen floor. It took some time but he got use to us and his big brother but he’s not the energizer bunny that Roscoe is. Copper is good with just hang’n out. He’d always be happy to see you but calm and reserved, rarely did he get excited. He’d save that for when his big brother came back from the vet or anytime they were apart for a while.
Nine years of always being together formed a bond that was a joy to be around. That bond was tested at the end of June as we were on vacation. We got a call from the pet sitter that Roscoe was not eating and having trouble with balance, she wasn’t sure if he had a seizure during the night or what. When we got back he was not his normal self and wouldn’t go down the two steps to get off the deck. He had trouble standing but was getting his appetite back. The days that followed he was getting better so much so that we started going back to the park and swimming in the river. Roscoe is 14, has trouble getting up as the back legs are not that strong but the mind is all there. When walking outside to see them he still gets up to greet you, even though you can see it take a lot of effort, tail wagging and smiling. Cooper, not far away, is content that you are there and stays where he is.
The bigger test of that bond would come at the end of July. Roscoe is about 90% back to where he was before the episode and things are back to normal walks and visits to the park, all is good. So on a Wednesday evening when I walked out to see them as I normally do neither is on the deck. Cooper is 10 feet from his brother who is breathing but not responsive. As I load Roscoe into the car it would be the last time Cooper would see his big brother. A seizure or stroke we’re not sure but we had to put Roscoe down that evening. It was a lonely night for Cooper, something he would need to get use to and the next day I think he knew it.
In the few weeks that followed Cooper didn’t eat as much and he was a little more distant, both could be expected. Walks were slower, Cooper’s pace isn’t as brisk as Roscoe’s, he didn’t need to keep up anymore. Trips to the park were more about getting out than anything else and we still enjoyed lounging in the cool river. Life was good, not as good as it was but not to bad, or so we thought. On Sunday (8/4) morning when I walked out to take Cooper for a walk I found him not breathing. A few hours earlier he was howling with the neighbor dogs at sirens just like he has for the last few years and now he’s left to be with his brother. We expected Roscoe he had a good run but not Copper. We do not know the cause and the necropsy was inconclusive maybe it was a broken heart or loneliness, regardless they are together again.
You were a great pair boys and we enjoyed your company, the deck is empty now but the memories will last forever.