When we picked up "Shakespeare", soon to be "Copper", on 12/17/2011 from the I-95 rest stop in Delaware, he had spent the first 15 months of his life as the hound no one wanted. We were his 5th stop in his short life (two homes, two rescues/fosters) and were determined to be the last; spoiler alert, we were.

Coppers story needs some backstory to understand how he came to be, just that, Copper. We also have another B&T, Beauregard, who funny enough was only 15 days younger than Copper, but we got him at 8 weeks old. Beau has always responded well to his "dog friends" names and one night while mulling what to change Shakespeare (at the time still with his lovely foster Katie Holt) to, well someone said Copper and it was like Beau had known the name his whole life. It stuck and is my go-to story of how my one dog named the other one.

Copper was a dogs' dog. Happiest laying in the sun or being outside in general, would chase his tail, play fetch, and all the other "dog" things, but he was also so much more.

I watched in the early years, as Beau had a slew of health issues, Copper stayed by his side night and day after surgeries or when he knew Beau did not feel well, they became bonded like I've never seen two animals be. Copper would continue this behavior through all three of my wife's pregnancies, curled up next to her or resting his head on her stomach, I assuming listening to the baby's heart.

Copper may have loved being active, but he absolutely loved to snuggle more. Never one to shy away from the couch or anywhere soft he could fit to lay down and nap, it was not uncommon to find him in our bed if the house full of kids was too hectic and he wanted to get away.

Throughout the years, we went on many walks, lots of trips to the park, time spent playing, etc, never thinking about age, as most don't when they are young and healthy. In 2018, I went to let the dogs inside from being let out for the night and Copper would/could not climb the deck stairs. It would turn out he tore his ACL rough housing in the yard.

With the tear of his ACL, for the first time, Copper was reliant on me and needed someone to care for him as he had us and it became apparent how advanced in age the two had become before our eyes without us really taking notice.

The next few months after; carrying him up and down stairs, supporting him using the bathroom, taking him to therapy, etc. brought us closer together than we had ever been. I received a trust from him in return that carried him to the end. It was also in this time that I came to understand a lot of the anxieties he carried from his early life and with that came to terms with my own, all thanks to him.

We spent just about every morning in his senior years going on walks in the morning before work, a routine only interrupted by heavy rain, as he did not like it anymore than I did. Ultimately this would be how I would know it was almost time. Last Wednesday we went and he could no longer make it around the block the ease he used to, by Friday he was no longer interested in eating without it being people food, and by Sunday morning his breathing had become very rapid and shallow and cough worsened along with a lack of energy.

We are fortunate enough to live very close to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital, one of the best vet schools in the world, where we took him promptly on Sunday afternoon. After some discussion and testing, Copper was found with heart failure compounded with a form of cancer in his lungs limiting his ability to breathe. After discussing with the Dr. about potential treatments and quality of life, it was decided it was time to let him go. So, surrounded by people he loved the most (my wife, my son, and myself) we held him tight and helped him over the Rainbow Bridge.

Once in a great while you get a special person/animal that completes your life, that was Copper. There is a huge void and pain that in time will become fond memories, but man was this one hell of a ride!

Love you always Copper, enjoy your limitless french fries!


1 December 2021