Farewell, sweet Cocoa
by Tony Roberts
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Miranda and Derek Harris’ lovely hound, Cocoa.
Members will know her well from our walks - always very vocal when greeting her two and four-legged friends. She was a regular and well-behaved visitor here at Hounds Lodge and enjoyed being escorted around the garden by Nico, like some visiting royalty.
She reached eleven years old and bore the various complaints which affected her final years with the uncomplaining good nature she had always possessed.
She will leave a huge and irreplaceable gap in the lives of Miranda and Derek, and all who knew and loved her.
Farewell, sweet girl.
Cocoa - a tribute by Miranda Harris
This is in memory of the loveliest little girl you could ever hope to meet. In the end she was happy and unafraid to put her head under my arm and accept the result.
She was eleven years four months - a reasonable age although one always hopes for a bit longer.
She arrived with us when she was twelve weeks old, having been bought and then returned within thirty minutes when Veronica (Ross), her breeder, discovered the prospective buyers lived in a flat without a garden.
Veronica decided, very generously, that she should be rehomed with her great-great-uncle, Mango and us. (I am so glad she made this decision.)
Cocoa was delighted with Mango, although Mango, then seven, was not so pleased with Cocoa. ‘Bloody nuisance’ - and then she went on heat and Mango thought he had gone to heaven.
(Left: Bessie, Pablo, Cocoa & Nico in procession)
Throughout Mango’s remaining years, Cocoa was his faithful follower. When he went out, she trotted out too - uncle was God.
She was also a great influence on Mango - taught him not to fret and to settle down for the night in the kitchen (not in our bedroom), and not to bark when left on his own. (He was a bit of an immature great, great uncle.)
When Mango died, it was with trepidation we began life with Cocoa without him.
However, being a very well adjusted little girl, she accepted her lot and seemed to settle into her new life. She loved making new friends - both canine and human.
She had sleepovers, sometimes for a few nights, and once for a couple of months with her best friend, Bessie. Never a cross word was exchanged - except once. The remains of a shepherds pie was the bone of contention.
Cocoa loved Bessie and would hunt her out on the Basset walks. The two old girls would lag side by side for some of the time on each walk until Cocoa’s last walk on 17th April.
Cocoa also had two handsome boys with whom she also had sleepovers.
The clown troupe, Pablo, Nico, and Cocoa, would follow each other in a line around the garden. The younger baby-boy treated her with chivalry and often had to ward off Pablo’s playful advances.
Cocoa had a second home!
On April 17th after the walk, Cocoa was as pleased as punch to find that she had not been taken to her first home but instead had been taken to see the boys. It was this Sunday afternoon that Cocoa was taken seriously ill, an afternoon that ended in an emergency trip to the vet hospital in Brighton.
The vet could not find anything obviously wrong so she was sent home with instructions to visit her own vet the next day.
On Monday, blood tests and chest X-rays were done and Cocoa went on a drip but came home at night. This was repeated on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - each time she was delighted to find it was just a day job.
The vets all felt glimmers of hope when this forlorn little girl miraculously revived at the prospect of home with Mum and Dad, but after each day it seemed that she was deteriorating.
Days of fluid drips culminating with twenty-four hours of fluid drips reaped no rewards.
Cocoa finally came home on Friday night at 9pm. She was very ill by then and had difficulty in lying down to sleep. She would not settle and I was wondering whether she should return to her fluid drips in hospital.
At 11.30pm, I whispered to her, “Go to bed”. Wanting to please as always she went to her mat and slept. At 5am, I went downstairs to find a quite perky little girl standing up at the foot of the stairs.
I took her outside and together we listened to the early birds in the half-light of dawn. After ten minutes of this she said she wanted to return inside.
At 8am, I took her out again but this time she seemed to want to find somewhere where she could disappear forever.
It was now Easter Saturday - not a practical day for dog departures. At 1pm, the vet rang to say that she could now see Cocoa and would be able to give her the time she deserved for her final appointment.
At the vet, she was obviously in a very poor state of health - blue tongue and panting for breath - but she remained her positive, obliging self and even insisted on weighing herself before entering the vet’s room. In here, she tucked her head under my arm and that was it - despite warnings that it may be traumatic, it was a wonderfully peaceful end.
She certainly won the hearts of Derek and me, but I think her friendly loving character infiltrated to the hearts of many others.
A week later I had a card from the vet, which contained seven messages of condolence and with particular references to Cocoa as ‘lovely’ and ‘special’. I was very touched.
I know many will miss this friendly little soul. I think it was her love of people which kept her going during the last spate of treatment, but in the end I’m glad she was able to rest and sleep on her own mat, and sniff the dawn air in her own back garden before her final appointment.
(Final note: My vet told me that if a bitch is spayed whilst young, unless to be used for breeding, she is less likely to contract mammary cancer. Advice I will heed in the future.)
Words by Miranda Harris; photos by Tony Roberts