Cole was everyone’s dog. He answered to any name he was called. He gave space to those he knew weren’t warming up to him, though more often than not Cole would win over each elder’s heart. Cole’s demeanor was so agreeable that he even met people who never wanted pets and changed their minds.
Our original plan was that Cole would not be allowed on the elder’s beds, yet that battle was lost when his people would begin calling out for him to join them every night. One resident with an early bedtime would summon Cole onto her bed every night. She insisted she couldn’t sleep without him. Cole would willingly oblige until she fell asleep before leaving, ensuring her comfort every evening.
Cole never barked. However, one night the staff heard him barking in a resident’s room. When they went to check on him they found him sitting with an elder who had fallen on her way to the bathroom. When the staff checked on her she was unhurt, but Cole still refused to leave her side the entire night.
An elder that had never previously let Cole in her room allowed him to join her the night she died. Cole lay beside her bed and stayed with her until the time came. On a different occasion, another elder’s family was coming to say their goodbyes to their passing mother. Cole escorted the elder’s daughter from the front door of the building to her mom’s room in an act of solidarity and support. Cole lay on the floor with his head on the daughter’s feet until her mother had passed. Cole always seemed to know exactly how to comfort people.
Cole’s life was extraordinary. He had his own Facebook page—“Cole Courtyards”—where he would post about his adventures, stories about Young Williams Animal Center, Alzheimer’s TN, and his favorite dog, Snoopy. He has been featured in the newspaper and been the subject of more than one TV news story. The yearly Spaghetti Supper fundraiser for Alzheimer’s TN was a success due simply to the number of people who came to see him. He has friends in the media, local government, and throughout the community. He has loved so many of us over the years. He never met a stranger.
Cole loved when kids would visit. He enjoyed running after cats and squirrels. He would play ball with you and then suddenly stop, look at you like you were crazy, and go lay in the shade. He also had a “godmother” who came to visit him faithfully over the years, taking him for rides in her truck, stopping for ice cream with him, and paying his vet bills.
When Cole arrived, we initially tried to give him a crate as an escape away from all the people coming in and out of the facility. Cole was terrified by the prospect. His favorite spot was with his favorite blue pillow under his head, looking almost human.
There was an administrator determined to keep Cole off the furniture, so he humored her. He knew by the sound of her car coming into the parking lot that it was time for him to get off the couch and go lay in his bed. When she came in the door, he would lay there and look at her, wagging his tail. You could almost hear him laughing at her. It was a game they both enjoyed.
Cole entered the Mascot contest at the Knoxville Alzheimer’s Walk for the first time in 2011 and won by raising over $400. Over the next several years the contest became increasingly competitive, and pets running for mascot raised thousands of dollars. However, Cole’s presence never faded: Cole raised over $5000 in a single year and won his last Mascot title in 2017.
Cole lived to love his people and they loved him right back. So many people will miss him, but we were all so blessed to have been among the ones he loved. He embodied all the qualities we desire in creating a different kind of assisted living. Cole was more than a dog, he was a true member of the Courtyards community. Cole was special and his impact will not be forgotten.
If you would like to honor Cole, please join us at Cole's Celebration of Life on June 12th from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at Courtyards Senior Living, 801 East Inskip Drive in Knoxville. Feel free to drop by at anytime. A short service will be held at 6:00 PM.
RSVPs may be directed to Laura Copeland at (423)202-1737 or firstname.lastname@example.org