All dogs better go to heaven or else why go?

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.

Will Rogers, by the time you read this, we will have buried Cooper. Cooper’s been a good friend of mine for many years; in fact, I guess you could say we are family. Cooper, you see, is my son and daughter-in-law’s dog. I am terribly sorry to see Cooper depart this earth, but he led a long and happy life. He loved his extended family as much as he was loved in return. It has been a conviction of mine for many years that if there is a Heaven, it’s a place where we are all reunited with every pet we ever owned.

Adam and Heather got Cooper while living in their first apartment in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which explains why he always barked with a faint Southern accent and was a big fan of barbecue. He followed them to Thornton, Colorado and eventually to Gig Harbor. I got to know Cooper during his tenure in Colorado. When Wendy and I visited the kids in Thornton, I somehow assumed the role of designated dog walker.

Modesty prohibits me from noting that walking dogs is something at which I happen to excel. I noticed something interesting about Cooper while taking him for his morning and afternoon constitutionals around the block and over to a nearby park. In our twice daily twice-dailywalks, Cooper would always have a bowel movement at least once, and would always stop to urinate between 19 and 26 times. I know this because I began to keep track of the number of urination and bowel movement episodes, ultimately creating a graph on which I logged the data.

Now Cooper is not a large dog, weighing in at less than 10 pounds soaking wet. Watching him during the day, I realized there was no way he was taking in enough water, dog food and dog treats to generate the volume of output I was seeing and tracking. Regrettably, I didn’t have the right tools with me to do an accurate volumetric measurement of his outflows. But I am certain that his waste products, even when correspondingly scaled to his diminutive size, were greater than his daily intake of food and water.

He appeared to the untrained observer as nothing more than a fur-covered kidney that barked. Naturally, I began to wonder what accounted for this startling canine phenomenon. I had a number of theories. Perhaps Cooper was sneaking food at night from a hidden stash in the kids’ house. A couple of all-nighters watching Cooper sleep without visiting a secret food stash ruled out this theory.

I then wondered if he was eating non-food items in the house – the tongues of leather shoes, cardboard, wooden molding, etc. – and somehow digesting and converting these non-food items into supplemental waste materials. I also thought maybe he was snacking on flora, fauna and discarded edibles we encountered during our daily walks. Sadly, I was unable to find conclusive evidence to confirm any of my various theories. I also lacked the tools to conduct chemical analysis of his various deposits to better understand their makeup and perhaps determine their source.

I briefly considered acquiring a hand-held GPS tool to locate and chart each of his 19-26 twice-daily stops during our walks to see if I could discern any notable patterns in the routes of his walk that might involve off-site food stashes, but better judgment prevailed. After I had gathered quite a bit of empirical data on this phenomenon, I compiled it into a report with maps and graphs and sent copies of it to some of the leading veterinary schools in the country. I’ll let you know when one of them responds.

We buried Cooper in a small pet cemetery that Wendy and I maintain in the back of our yard beyond the vegetable garden. Cooper is in good company now, with all four of our previous dogs residing next to him along with one cat (which we inherited from the previous owner), a turtle, several rabbits, a chicken, some guinea pigs and hamsters, and a number of fish, mostly of the goldfish variety. It’s a nice shady spot over which a large and diverse group of island wildlife passes daily which should provide ample entertainment for Cooper’s spirit.

I don’t know if Adam and Heather will get another dog. Since acquiring Cooper, they have also acquired two human carpet destroyers, and that may be enough action for them to deal with for a while. In the meantime, rest in peace, Cooper. Isn’t it funny how the smallest things sometimes take up the most room in our hearts?

Tom Tyner of Bainbridge Island writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper.