Cooper – March Pet of the Month


Sue Libera and Tish O’Connor would like to honor Cooper, who has been a very generous benefactor to Sarge’s Animal Rescue. Ralph and Eva Sheppard’s story on how they rescued Cooper is below.

The brief version of Cooper’s journey begins in Naples, Florida, where we went to look at a Portuguese Water Dog puppy. We met Cooper, a 1 year old PWD who had been returned to the breeder because he supposedly didn’t fit into the family. We learned 6 months later, after agreeing to purchase Cooper from this breeder ( he claimed he needed to refund the original purchaser) that this was all a lie and Cooper had been diagnosed with severe malformed hips, bi-lateral, and the original owner wanted nothing to do with the surgeries that would be needed to keep him alive and viable.

By this time, I was already extensively involved with Coopers obedience training and of course he was part of our family. The breeder was certainly going to euthanize Cooper but instead he lied to us in order to get paid again. I did report him to the AKC and, after letting him know I was prepared to blast this all over social media regarding his breeding program and business practices. He finally agreed to refund my purchase which I asked him to donate to an animal rescue instead of paying it to me. He even refused to do that which left me dumbfounded.

Coopers first surgery was on the right hip, the second replacement hip came 6 months later. I did the surgeries when he started to show pain and discomfort. I refused to medicate him and went straight to the inevitable hip replacements he would require to enjoy any type of quality in his life.  All surgeries were performed at the U of Florida. I sent you a couple pictures. Cooper later had to repair the right leg ligament and last year had surgery to remove a GIST; a malignant tumor attached to his secum.

 Somehow, he has survived this all, all the while enjoying a very active life. He never had any noticeable dysfunction from the hip surgeries and continued to run, jump into the back of my truck, swim, and otherwise do what any healthy dog his age would be doing. I never treated him any differently. I figured he should live his life and if he had a setback I would deal with it. Fortunately, he thrived exceptionally.

 I have him looked at with ultrasound every 3-4 months to see if any cancer has returned. We did not expect it to and so far, it has not. The surgeons at Gainesville are exceptional needless to say.

 He is slowing down some, but, who isn’t ????. He is in his 12th year of life having turned 11 in November 2020. Needless to say he is quite special to us and maybe the most expensive PWD in the world…..worth every cent!!!!                                         

Ralph and Eva Sheppard

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