Checkmate didn't "always"
I went from the breeder's to a family that included a 10-year-old boy, who named me Checkmate Joe Cocker and life was great for about 8 years until my boy went away to college. Then things got lonely. When the boy graduated, he got a job and apartment in a city several hours away, and didn't take me along. He didn't come to visit me very often, either. His parents said they wanted a "truly empty nest", so Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center was contacted and I was advertised on the Internet.
It's really tough for us old guys to find new homes. After a dog hits the age of 5 or so, people think it's time to put them out to pasture! I waited for several months on the Internet before someone from Pennsylvania called to inquire about me. They backed out though, and it was another two months before my new "Mom" called.
I went to meet my new family on a sunny afternoon. It was a mom, a dad, a 7-year-old girl, her hamster, a 10-year-old cocker spaniel (Buddy) and best of all, nine tennis balls! What could be better? We spent about an hour exploring the new place, getting acquainted and swapping kisses. (I'm a very sweet kisser.) Then, a week later, I came back to Maryland and brought all my "stuff". It was sad and confusing that the [old parents] left [when I wasn't looking] and didn't come back, but after a few days, I quit watching for them. Fortunately, new family was very patient; "Mom" even took an extra day off of work to help me adjust.
My new "Mom" was a little slow at first, my arthritis was really hurting me and I had a bladder infection. She said it took her awhile to figure this out, because she didn't know how I normally behave. She got me medicines, and I started feeling frisky again. Now I take daily medicines for bladder control and arthritis, and I "hop like a bunny" when my new family comes home to tell them how much I've missed them!
Everyone was surprised that I can count. I know how many tennis balls we have, and they all need to be accounted for. They're supposed to be out in the middle of the living room floor, NOT in the toy box, and I have to check on them constantly, 'cuz "Mom's" always picking them up and stashing them. (I don't see how Buddy has put up with that type of behavior all these years.)
At my new house, we go for walks almost every night. Buddy taught me how to tell time. It's very important to know when the family is late for meal- or walk-times. Buddy is also teaching me how to be a watch dog, I never knew how important it was to bark at everything that goes past the windows! Now that I've got children and other dogs (this is a GREAT neighborhood) to frolick and play with, I'm not feeling my age anymore. I don't have time to be depressed or miss [my first boy]; life in Maryland is just too busy! The best thing I've learned since moving here is that car rides don't have to mean the vet or groomers. Car rides can lead to fun places: like parks, lakes, PetSmart, and Grandma's house! I'll describe some of my NEW adventures on my family's page, (as they happen).
Buddy and I went to the Community Fair! Our girl showed us at the Pet Show. We won red and white ribbons! I have the 2nd shortest tail in Damascus (can't beat the tail-less welsh corgis, Buddy's tried in the past)! Buddy has the 3rd longest ears (basset hounds!) and the 2nd best trick. He can balance a cookie on his nose, toss it up in the air and catch it. Oh yeah, "Mom" took the purple ribbon (grand champion) for website design on the Brownie Girl Scout site she maintains. Just wait 'til next year! I'M gonna enter CockerCondo, and really show her up!
Around Thanksgiving, I quit eating. "Mom" took me to the vet. I had dropped 3lbs: 15% of my body weight. The vet used a thermometer and stethescope and needle to take blood from me. I was very good. Then she said we have to watch my kidneys, that I need a low-protein diet. "Mom" now cooks people food for me -- rice and white bread and veggies with a little bit of hamburger and egg. It's a special recipie, and she has to measure everything. My kidneys are failing and I won't be getting better. But this new diet tastes lots better than crunchy dry dog food and I'm gonna gain back that weight!
My appetite is changing again. I don't finish the 2/3 cup of food "Mom" serves me each morning and evening anymore, but I look for a bedtime snack each night. I'm rapidly losing weight. "Mom" says she can count my ribs from across the room. I'm still happy and playful, I need to be the center of attention, and NO ONE else in the house is allowed to get more cuddles than me! I don't hear so well anymore either, so the family has developed a series of hand gestures that they use to tell me what they want after they get my attention.
Some happy things have happened though: Buddy underwent surgery in February to have a huge fatty mass (tennis ball size) removed from his chest. He's healed beautifully. And the vet says according to his blood work, all his systems are functioning wonderfully at age 11. We've discovered a "dog park" where we can go play without our leashes. Sometimes I run after tennis balls for 15 minutes before I get too tired. There's lots of other nice dogs there we can socialize with. That's where we found Mickey, my new "baby" brother. He's five years old and he's joining our family!!!! "Mom" says it's really different to have a dog here that is not geriatric. What's that supposed to mean? Mickey is quiet and gentle, he hasn't disrupted my situation at all, and it's nice to have someone else to blame the "messes" on! Welcome, Mickey. His pictures are on my family page.
June 16, 1999
Dear family members, friends and fellow rescue workers:
It is with great sorrow that I must announce that Checkmate left us for the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. He had been suffering from renal disease for the 11 and 1/2 months that he owned us, and finally his overworked kidneys gave out.
CockerCondo will continue on in his memory, Checkmate's work is far from done. Checkmate is now "playing tennis ball" with the angels. Go with God, my baby, and thank you for the gift of rescue work you have given me.
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