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Friday, April 19, 2013

Life and love with a very bad dog

Last week started off mild, so I took Cody the Wonderdog for a walk in the back pasture field. I put him on his leash and walked him past the burn barrel, and as soon as we got out to the stone fence I let him go. He ran and ran, more like a pup than a 14-year-old senior dog. These runs are good for him, and he is usually tired enough to let me put the leash back on him for our return walk past the barn.
If Cody gets away on me on these walks it isn't a big deal, because our property is contained by fencing and there is plenty to occupy his interest on the inside of the barriers. This time as we passed the cedars and he disappeared, however, I wondered if he had jumped the rail fence to chase a turkey in the neighbour's cornfield. I couldn't find him anywhere.
Just then I heard a horse snort. I looked back up toward the house and there was Misty the Belgian, standing beside the burn barrel and looking at me. Cody was at her feet, chowing down on a ripped-open bag of garbage.
As I stomped back up the field toward the idiot, I yelled and whistled and clapped my hands. At first he pretended he couldn't hear me. He had obviously found something really yummy in the garbage and that had all his attention. Then he finally looked up, as if to gauge my distance, and then turned back down to his snack.

When I caught up with the little opportunistic garburator he made a feeble attempt to fake-snap at me. I eventually caught him and put the leash back on. He made me drag him back to his doghouse, as he licked the sour cream or cheese or whatever he had found off his muzzle.

"You are going to have a bellyache now, and you can just drink your water and lie out here until it passes," I told him.
Later in the week, Cody was lounging on his fleece blanket in front of the fire after convincing Paulina that he was cold outside. When she opened the door to bring him back out to his leash he bolted and took off down the driveway. He knew it was garbage day, and was off to check out the neighbours' offerings. Does anyone want a slightly used, geriatric pooch? He's getting on my last nerve.

Cody is supposed to be a Gordon Setter, but he isn't black and tan, he's just all black. I'm also not convinced he's disciplined enough to be a bird-dog, as it says on the Gordon Setter Wikipedia page. He does fit most of the rest of the description, however. His bearing is intelligent, noble and dignified. He never once has tried to lick anyone's face, and doesn't display any other disgusting dog habits in public. Gordons are sensitive so you have to be careful how you speak to them. They also require firm training. Cody failed obedience school. He knows how to sit and that's about it.

Our dog isn't a big talker, as his page suggests, but he does announce the arrival of a new car in the lane and he responds when the neighbour's dogs go on 'ad infinitum' about one thing or another. If the black Afghan hound from next door comes prancing into our yard, her long hair blowing around her face, Cody has been known to wail plaintively, the song of unrequited love.

Older Gordons can suffer from gastric problems. Cody has had more than his share and must be on his third or fourth chance at life by now. His life expectancy is 10 to 12 years, but he obviously hasn't read that page because he is at least 14 (the Farmer can't remember exactly how old he was when he got him from the shelter).

Cody resists training, he eats garbage, and he isn't housebroken, but we love him. In his book "Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog," author John Grogan says "Dogs are great. Bad dogs, if you can really call them that, are perhaps the greatest of them all." Cody has personality, and character, and mischief in his veins. He can't help it. And I wouldn't want him to be any other way.

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