Obama, aka Obeezy, aka Obeezy fo’ Sheezy Esquire, passed in his home in Santa Cruz, California, wrapped in a blanket, surrounded by family, on November 15, 2022. Obama was 13.5 years old and had spent the last 12.5 years as a beloved member of the Cooper family. For his last year, Obama had bravely battled a chronic bowel disease.
“We were actually looking to adopt a dog.”
Helen and Burleigh Cooper dropped by the San Francisco SPCA one morning in March 2009, looking to adopt a dog. None of the dogs seemed right. But, as they walked through the cat condo area, a white and black cat pressed his face against the window. “You need me,” he seemed to say. The Coopers decided to meet with him and discovered this one-year-old cat was so friendly and dog-like that it was the perfect match. Except, this cute cow-print cat wasn’t ready to be adopted–he was still on medication. Helen pulled some strings (she used to work there), and they drove back to Santa Cruz with their new family member that day.
“Just a mellow love bug who only wanted to hang with you and cuddle. “
Some may wear their hearts on their sleeves, but Obama wore his on his rump–a white heart-shaped patch of fur that demonstrated his sweet and loving nature. He soon became a beacon of calm and loving energy in the Cooper household. More than anything, he loved cuddles. When Helen worked from home, he’d sit as close to her as possible. If Helen got up and happened to stand at the sink, he’d surprise her by leaping onto her shoulders, hoping they’d continue their cuddle while she washed dishes. Obama also really liked Helen’s mom, Carol. He’d similarly greet her by launching himself onto her shoulders, hanging out as if he was a scarf around her neck.
A bigger family brings even more love.
Obama, described by Helen as an “extremely chill dude,” could have taught a class on enjoying the simple things in life: fleece blankets; a patch of warm sunshine; cuddling with those you love. But once, his obsession with all things warm and cuddly gave Helen and Burleigh a tremendous scare. Obama had joined them on a road trip to Lake Tahoe. They realized they hadn’t seen him for a few hours and thought he’d escaped the cabin. Terrified, the Coopers looked everywhere, even driving around the neighborhood, while imagining him eaten by bears. But, to their immense relief, about an hour later, Obama was located, snugly buried in blankets, and very well-rested, in a guest bedroom.
When Mia, Helen and Burleigh’s daughter, was born, Obama became her first friend. As soon as Mia came home from the hospital, he’d join Helen and Mia on the nursing pillow, and the three of them would snuggle and nap. When baby Mia cried, Obama would always tiptoe over to her and check it out, as if he was asking, “Is she okay?”
Obama wasn’t hugely driven by treats, preferring to seek physical contact instead. But he did have his occasional food quirk. Even if his kibble was overflowing, he’d pace in front of the bowl, demanding better service with a meow. Helen and Burleigh would accommodate with a fresh scoop on top of the ever-expanding kibble mountain, which became a permanent fixture in their kitchen.
Obama’s passing has been a tremendous loss for the Coopers. And while his memory will never be forgotten, they hope to add a new furry family member to the family this coming year. Perhaps, they’ll actually find their dog this time!
Obama Cooper is survived by Helen, Burleigh, Mia Cooper, and every other friend and family member who adored him. Memorial contributions may be made in Obama’s name to the San Francisco SPCA or the Santa Cruz SPCA.