Remembering Cosmo Berkowitz

“I want to get another dog.” Zachary Berkowitz, circa January 2005. This is where our story begins.

When Zach’s sister Allie got bat mitzvahed in 2002, we gave her some of her present money and told her to buy what she wanted. She got an iBook laptop computer. We offered Zach the same deal and he  said “I want another dog,” and he was quickly told no. Being the relentless little man that he was, he asked why. My explanation was simple – a dog is not a fixed purchase. You have food, vet bills, doggie sitting and more, plus we already had one dog – Ripley – and as far as I was concerned, one dog was enough. So Zach ended up getting a Tempur-Pedic mattress with his bar mitzvah money.

Over the next couple of years Zach kept asking and we kept saying no. In June of 2005, Zach announced that when he got home from camp, we were getting another dog. My response, “We will discuss it.”

The 2nd week of August, 2005, we met Zach at the bus from Camp Lenox at a hotel off the Garden State Parkway, somewhere around exit 157. It’s about a minute ride from the hotel parking lot to get back on The Parkway and before we could get one exit down that road, Zach says “So when are we getting another dog.”
My response was “I said we’d discuss it.”
To which Zach replies “No more discussing it. We need another dog. Allie is leaving for college and I’m going miss my sister so much, I need someone to replace her,” which is probably only half true but totally well played.
My response to him was something along the lines of “We have lot going on right now…we need to get Allie off to college…we can look into this when mom and I get back.”

So we got Allie off to college, came home and the next day not only was Zach all about getting another dog, his mother joined in. She called Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter, which is where we got Ripley, our 10 year old shepherd mix. They had a litter of boxer/shepherd mixes coming in and we were first on the list. Of course, Zach is checking out what that type of dog would look like and all I could see was a really big ball of shedding dog hair all over my house.

A day or two later, we are off to The Shelter to check out the pups and OMG are they cute when they are that small. Zach gets it down to 2 or 3 of the females and finally decides on one. At that point, I have to go home to get Ripley as the folks at the shelter want to see how she will react to this possible new addition to our family.

When I return to the shelter with Ripley, they put her in the conference with the new dog, who chases her around and Ripley promptly shits on the floor! At that point, the decision is made and we have ourselves a new dog.

Now I wanted to name the dog Honey for her coloring and for Cosmo’s toasted honey buns. My kids overrule me and decide on Cosmo (which I think is a bit of boys name) but we go with “Cosmo Girl,” at least that’s what I tell myself.  A week or so later, after being properly fixed, Cosmo comes home.

Zach & his new pup – the day we brought her home.

Our soon to be big dog, makes herself right at home. As much as I thought Ripley had a very human personality, Cosmo is just a big doofy dog. She is great at catching her frisbee and tennis ball, we play chase around an old picnic we had in our backyard, and she is a wonderful companion for long walks in the reservation.

In August 2010, after a battle with liver disease and just one day after getting both Allie and Zach off to SU, Ripley decides she has had enough and we are down to one dog. Although she is not much of licker, Cosmo does like to run out the door when I come home each day and jump on to my extended arm. She is also Linda’s early morning cuddle companion, so that Linda can get a few extra minutes sleep.

During the 2nd semester of his junior year, Zach call us to ask if he can bring Shay home. Shay is a dog one of his fraternity brothers adopted but whose parents won’t let him bring home…not to mention the fact that he had no clue as to how to take care of dog, which Zach did.  Zach had become one of her caretakers and they had grown very attached. We decide to go visit Zach and see how the 2 dogs get along. After the visit, we decided to let Zach bring Shay home and officially welcome her into the Berkowitz family. Cosmo has a new friend.

At some point, when Cosmo was probably around 9 years old or so, she started developing a floppy growth under her neck. The vet says to do nothing (which we later regret) but to give it a name. I call it Governor Cysty. This growth really became annoying for us to look at.

As time progresses, she does some damage to a ligament in one of her back legs, so we have to cut down on our long walks and eventually she can no longer jump into the car or onto the bed. The growth on her neck is joined by a series of small growths on the rest of her body.

Last spring, during the pandemic, Linda and I decided now was a good time to get another dog.

On July 4, 2020, Cassidy Berkowitz joins the family. We had hoped our new addition would give Cosmo a bit of life, but at 13 years old, she just took things in stride.

Last fall, as she was over 13 years old – a good age for her breed and size – I figured if it were a hard winter, she would have a tough time. Despite all the snow and cold we had, she came through like a trooper but age was definitely starting to take it’s toll. Walks became much shorter, she struggled getting up and down the stairs in our backyard, and she stopped coming upstairs to sleep in our room. In late May, she started having issues controlling her bladder and almost every night she was peeing in the house. I could sense the moment I dreaded was fast approaching.

On Saturday, June 12, 2021, Linda and I flew to California for a well deserved family vacation (as in the 6 of us) and birthday celebration. It had been several months since we had let Cosmo go to the dog sitter, which she used to do once a week but we had stopped as we felt it was no longer in her best interest. Our dog sitter knew that if there were a problem, we had Linda’s sister Donna on call to come up to the house and stay with Cosmo until our return. Unfortunately Linda got the call Sunday that Cosmo would have to be brought home on Monday. Thankfully Donna was there to help.

We returned home on June 16th. Over the next few days, I did my best to take Cosmo on late night walks in the hope she could make it through the night. It didn’t help. A couple of nights, I would hear her moving around the house, run down the stairs to get her outside but I was always too late.

9 days ago, she stopped eating and drinking. Last Thursday afternoon, she actually got up for a walk but she collapsed on the street and I had to carry home. Last Friday morning she walked to the car and  I lifted into the back for the last time.

We got to the vet and she walked inside. They brought her out back, lifted her onto a table, she laid down and smiled at me as if to say thank you, I love you and this is going to be much harder on you than it is me (and it was and still is). Moments later my Cosmo was gone and only now as I write this, am I truly letting it all go for the first time.

My 2 angels are now together. I loved them both and will miss them for the rest of my days.