If this were a tabloid, the headline would read: 100-year-old goes on killing spree. The cause will shock you.

A note before I begin, dear friends: If you’re at all squeamish about loss of backyard wildlife or circle-of-life stories, this one’s not for you. Come back another time or peruse this old, old post about gratitude for my quirky old dog.

Cooper turned 13 this summer. The girls threw him a party, complete with special squeaky toys, treats, and a birthday crown.

As he ages, Cooper’s body is–of course–changing.

The first big change we noticed was his eyesight. Cooper has night blindness. So, we’re careful about lighting at night, especially when he goes outside to go to the bathroom before bed. When we turn on the floodlights, he goes to the bathroom within the circle of light–even though that means right on the edge of the patio/grass where he often goes more on the patio than the grass. We can clean the mess. No big deal. (Or so we thought…)

The second big change is his hearing. Cooper’s reached the age when I can open a bag of chips in the kitchen and he does not come running. He’s reached the age when I can open the garage door, pull the car in, come inside the house, and he’s still snoozing soundly–and startles when he realizes we’re home.

{Aside: I need to revisit this post, What to Do if Your Dog Is Losing His Hearing. It’s from way back in 2016, but I remember Bernard shared some amazing tips from raising a house full of deaf dogs.}

The third big change, and one I wrote about months ago, is his degenerative disc disease. I need to write an updated post because further testing showed a possible/probable different diagnosis (see: How to get a second opinion from a vet), but the gist is that his back hips are failing him. He has a weak hind end, and this former runner has morphed into a slow-pick-his-way-er.

Limited sight. Limited hearing. Limited mobility.

Oh, and he has to go to the bathroom every single night–at least once–between 1 and 3 am. Sometimes twice.

He usually gets up, rings his bells, and we let him out to go to the bathroom. Then he comes back in and we all fall back to sleep.

A couple nights ago, John let him out just after 2 AM then went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. Through the window, he witnessed something startling.

Imagine our complete and utter shock to discover that low-vision, no-hearing, slow-walking Cooper caught a baby bunny at 2 in the morning. But, he did.

This, from the dog who allows the mama bunny to eat all the vegetables in our garden while he meanders nearby.

I mean… how?

For real. How?

Opinions were varied.

Perhaps he stepped on the bunny nest by accident then reacted to what popped out instead of actually chasing one down?

Maybe it was already dead and he simply discovered/investigated the body?

What if he mistook it for one of his squeaky toys?

Whatever happened happened, so the next morning I searched the yard for the nest. Sure enough, it’s exactly where the patio and grass meet, exactly where he goes to the bathroom every night and first thing in the morning because it’s in the circle of light from our floodlight.

There was a second baby no bigger than my fist in the nest.

So, I got some garden fencing and surrounded the nest, leaving small openings on each side for the mom to come and go. For several nights, I placed two sticks in a x-shape over the nest to monitor whether or not the mom was still coming. For several nights, the sticks were moved.

Then, the yard guy came to mow. It scared the ever-living pants off the baby, who actually left the nest and was trying to bip and bop its way across the yard. We alerted the yard guy. John and I gloved up. We caught the baby and returned him to the nest.

I don’t know if that experience addled the bunny’s brain, but… he left the nest again. In broad daylight. Literally while Cooper was going to the bathroom, and yeah. It seemed to hop right for him, and Cooper caught it. I yelled, “DROP IT!” And he did, immediately. But the damage was done. It looked like Cooper might’ve broken the bunny’s little leg, but the bunny wedged himself under a cat mint bush. I went and got my gloves to move him back to his nest, but he somehow slipped away.

John and I looked everywhere but never found him, and I suspect he either died of his injuries or was predated because he never returned to the nest.

I felt awful. Genuinely terrible.

Because the first one was, I think, a fluke. The second one… sigh. I should’ve been more careful. I should’ve checked to ensure he was either in his nest or gone gone before I let Coop out because that is the spot where he always goes to the bathroom, even blocked by garden fencing.

Cooper is about 96 human years old. How on earth is his terrier gene only now becoming activated? Although, it’s not. Not really. The mama bunny still lives in our yard, still eats our vegetables, and he doesn’t bother her.

Regardless, why is my almost 100-year-old dog going on a killing spree for the first time in his life?

Or is he just looking for a hobby to keep him busy in retirement…

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