Coffey, Our Coffey

We named her Coffey because—

The Humane Society listed her as Clara. It was so obvious she wasn’t a Clara that it was laughable, so we laughed and started casting about for another name. We stumbled on Coffey because she responded to it. Her ears cocked, she looked around. We decided her name must have been something similar—Toffey or Sophie or Muffy or something—and given both her lush coloring (with those wonderful creamy white accents) and her energy levels, Coffey fit.

It was dangerous, in a way. We’re both coffee-drinkers and naming her that meant every time we poured a cup we would think of her. This could be difficult after—

Well, after.

Now it’s after, and I do think of her. We together have our moments when it’s time to stop talking and just remember.

We had been without a dog for a year. Our first one, Kory, had left an empty space. Donna volunteered for the Humane Society, mainly as a walker. By this time she told me I’d have to make the selection because she wanted to bring them all home.

We toured the kennels. I saw this one lounging in her cage, paying no attention to anyone else, especially, it seemed, the people. There was an attitude. I said “This one.”

“Why?”

“She’s not neurotic.”

What she was was pure semi-contained energy. Once she realized she was going home I felt like I was trying to hang on to a cartoon character doing manic moves in defiance of gravity. We stopped on the way home at a friend’s house to pick up a crate then brought her home.

It took about a month for this dog to fall in love with us. Clearly, wherever she had run away from had done a lot of work with her and cared for her. We almost felt guilty. We figured that she had gotten out, either during a storm or something frightened her, and got lost. For that month it seemed sometimes as if she were just hanging around us till her people came to get her.

Then it changed and she adopted us.

You can tell. There’s a look that shifts subtly from “Hey, you’re a human, I like humans!” to “Oh, you’re my human.”

Honestly, it was touch and go for the first couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure I was up for a powerhouse that wanted to see the entire neighborhood all at once right now!  This 35 lb mix-breed (presumably a Pointer Mix, hah) could drag me down the street. She was always ON.

Until she wasn’t.

As I said, her previous owners had done work with her. She was already house-broken. She understood a handful of commands. She was careful. By that, I mean she almost never went anywhere, explored anything, or played so as to break things, move things, disturb things. She understood there were boundaries. It was amazing.

But unlike our previous dog, Coffey wanted to dig.

This time around, we read some books. One of them recommended giving the dog its own plot of ground in which to dig. Donna managed to get this across and so the Digging Pit was created, and damn if Coffey didn’t stick to it. If Donna would be doing yard work—weeding, planting, what-have-you—Coffey would “help” by going immediately to her own pit and digging furiously. She was on a quest. Whatever it was down under all that dirt, she was hot on the trail.

And when she crashed, she cozied up to one of us and informed us with every bit of her immense personality that she felt safe.

We walked her once a day. Those walks could range a couple of miles. She never really wanted to go home. There was always another block, another corner, another street to cross.

Coffey was our buddy. Despite our shortcomings, she evidently thought we were terrific and let us know that. She was beautiful and smart and amazing and she was glad to be with us.

Oh, she had her quirks. She really did not like other animals, even other dogs, and positively hated cats. We found an excellent groomer, Spotlight on Hampton. They let the dogs socialize and offered a daycare service. What socialization with other dogs she got, she got there, and they were glad to see her. 

Coffey was alpha, unquestionably. And size didn’t matter.

She maintained her puppiness up till the last several months. No one believed how old she was until they looked closer, at the increasing grey on her muzzle. 

We weren’t sure how old she was when we got her, but our vet estimated maybe a year, give or take a month. 

We had her for fourteen years.

We had kept Kory alive longer than perhaps we should have. She was suffering. We promised ourselves not to do that again. When the signs of deterioration grew unmistakable and Coffey’s quality of life was decaying, we made the decision.

We had her for fourteen years. She made us better people. Even when we didn’t particularly believe in ourselves, she did. She was generous with kisses and cuddles up till the last few months. If we laughed it made her happy. 

I could go on (and on and on and on) but I think the point is made. 

Coffey was amazing.

And when I have a cup, I do not hurt. But I do enjoy it maybe a touch more.

We are more because of her.

One thought on “Coffey, Our Coffey

  1. Oh , I am so sad for you both. Mark, your writing is a loving tribute to Coffee. She was fortunate ti have her time with you.

    We know that this was a difficult decision to make and an incredibly traumatic event in your life to lose such a devoted companion.

    Praying that your fond memories bring you comfort and peace in the days ahead.

    Love and Blessings,
    Beth and Dave

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