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Friday, January 22, 2016

Ode to Codesville McCode

For two days I have had a migraine. I think it’s because my head has been wrung dry of any more tears. I have been crying at the slightest mention of my silly old geriatric dog Cody, who we had to put to sleep this week. He was in his 17th year.
We have been trying to make this decision for a while now, the Farmer and I. Cody the Wonder Dog has been starting to really show his age this past year. First he went stone deaf. Then his hind legs started to give out on him on his daily walk. Then the inevitable loss of control over his bodily functions. I think he started to lose his eyesight as well. The one thing our old Gordon Setter never lost was his appetite. Or his youthful spirit. We knew he was old, but he didn’t.
The Farmer adopted Cody about fifteen years ago. The two-year-old dog was rejected by an apartment-dweller who said he received a failing grade in obedience school. That I can believe. The only instruction Cody can follow is “sit.” I also wondered at someone who thought a Gordon Setter was a good choice for an apartment dog. He is quite large.
Cody has only two bad behaviours: he runs away whenever he sees the opportunity, and he has an insatiable appetite, unable to resist the temptation of unattended food. He once ate an entire boneless rib roast that I was defrosting for our Sunday dinner. He didn’t leave a trace. The only evidence was his burp.
Cody joined us in the house several times a day, where he would lie on his blanket in front of the TV, next to the fire. On extremely cold or stifling hot nights we would bring him upstairs to sleep beside our bed. But for the most part, he was an outdoor dog. When I first met Cody I thought it strange that he was always tied up. Surely he can be loose on the property, I thought. I thought wrong. The moment that dog was off his leash, he would bound down the road and into a neighbour’s yard or garage, to check out their garbage. Even when his legs no longer worked, his brain told him to RUN. He made it partway down the road and collapsed, rolling himself out of harm’s way into the ditch. He was brought home by a neighbour more than once. Covered in mud.
And so tied up he remained. Perhaps that is why he lived so long – because he couldn’t get into things that might otherwise hurt him. He had a pretty controlled environment.
You have to take stairs to get into our house, so eventually even that was a problem for dear old Codesville McCode. If ice coated the steps, he lost his confidence altogether and barked for us to help him in his soft little voice. He lost his loud bark months ago.
Finally we decided it was time. He had a good long life, we told ourselves. But still, it was very difficult. I took Cody’s photo one last time, kissed him on his forehead, wiped his rheumy eyes and said goodbye. The Farmer took him on his final trip to the vet.
When I got home that night, everything seemed so quiet. The usual black hairy mass emerging from the shadows to greet me was no longer there. I let myself into the house and gave the Farmer a hug. Silly old dog. We miss him so much.
Next, I had to tell the girls. I couldn’t do it over the phone, so I sent an email. There will be something missing from our family gathering this Sunday. It bops up and down on the porch in front of the kitchen window, ears flapping, barking silently, asking to be let in. To lie on the blanket in front of the fire, for as long as his heavy winter coat can stand. To be with his family. His people.
Thanks, Cody, for your years of service as our watchdog, our people-greeter, our entertainment and companion. Go now and run, puppy-brain. And eat all the dessert.

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