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Cooper’s End

Six months ago today, my last childhood dog, Cooper, died. I knew his time was coming, but the actual event was quite sudden. I sat in the vet’s office and passed my hand through the fur of his neck in gentle, sweeping strokes as the pentobarbital coursed through his veins and slowed his shallow breaths until he passed. Our tears dampened his graying coat.

Looking down at him laying there, my mind flashed back to another moment thirteen years earlier, looking down at him from the same angle as he scrambled from side-to-side, nipping Scrappy’s ankles as she skittered around the swimming pool. Cooper, then only three months old and half the size of Scrappy, nibbled her left leg, then scampered around to the other side and nibbled her right leg. Scrappy was far too passive to react and simply quickened her pace to get away from him. Cooper’s attacks became frenetic as they rounded the pool to the narrowest section of pool decking and I tailed them from above.

I remember thinking, “Well, Cooper’s about to learn a very valuable…” and before I could finish my thought, he slipped off the pool decking on his third pass to her right and tumbled a few inches into deep end of the pool. Prepared for this, I got on my knee, reached two feet into the frigid water, wrapped my hand under his sinking body, and pulled him back up. I took him inside the house, bundled him in towels, plopped him on the couch, and took a long-lost photo of him swaddled there in the oversized bath towels with just his tiny, shivering face peaking out.

How quickly thirteen years had passed. One at a time, the days had added up to Cooper’s lifespan. Having moved out a few years ago, I was sad that I missed so much of his later life, but very glad to be there with him at the end. I had inadvertently captured dozens of candid moments of his life for my on-again, off-again 1 Second Everyday film project; I frequently revisit those short clips.

Pre-Covid, I had been semi-diligently capturing moments of life every few days or every other day. Most of the shots are from running clubs or indoor rock climbing, which I was doing very frequently. When Covid started spreading in the US, life came to a standstill but work became overwhelming. As people stayed at home, they bought more and more stuff online, creating a flurry of orders to keep pace with. On the Max and Neo side, we managed with the people we had, but on the netting side, I had to hire my brother, his girlfriend, and a neighbor to keep up with orders. Even a kidney stone could not keep me out of the office. During that time, the 1 Second Everyday project became No Seconds Any Day project.

When Cooper passed, I realized that I needed to document life. If I don’t document life – all the mundane, inane, and urbane parts of it – then I will never truly remember large portions of my life and I will certainly miss many of the finer, less noticeable details.

So this is the project as it exists now – the six months before Covid, the six months missing, and the six months since Cooper died.

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