Yesterday was a hard day. Seems there have been a few of those lately. Yesterday another beloved pet had to be put to sleep.
Cody came into our lives a little over 12 years ago. He was three at the time. It was my youngest daughter's 16th birthday and she'd been asking for a dog for ages. We went to the animal rescue league (the pound) and saw this schnoodle (schauzer-poodle) that was a bundle of energy. He was there because he'd kept digging out of his owner's fenced-in yard. We lived in the country with plenty of running room, so thought he would work out okay. After a couple of days, daughter thought he was a bit toooo energetic for her, but her 14-yr-old brother had fallen for him, so we kept him.
From then on, they were pretty inseperable. Our son and the dog were very like-spirited. Very active, and had "bad habits"… but we loved him. The first thing we learned was if he got off a cable or leash, he headed right for the busy road out front. That was cause for extreme anxiety more than once when we'd have to round up the kids and chase him down – and let me tell you, he was FAST. That dog could MOVE! He could zig and zag quick as a bunny rabbit and you had no chance of catching him. We finally figured out if we would make our german shepherd bark, then Cody would come up to find out what he was barking about – and that was the moment to grab him.
When our son got a bit lax in taking care of the dog, as children often do, I threatened to return him to the pound. (Trust me, it was only a threat). When son didn't seem to find that a possibility, I tricked him by boarding the dog overnight at the vet office… and, yes, telling him I'd returned the dog to the vet. Tears were shed and I was probably deemed the meanest mom on the planet – you are probably thinking it even now – but when I "went to the pound and got him back the next day before he was sold to someone else"… there were more tears shed of happiness and the lesson was learned.
After a few years of not being able to trust Cody off of a cable, I finally was able to coax him into staying within sight of me and not running for the road – as long as I stayed outside with him and watched him. He became used to the farm and was able to be free to roam a bit without worry he'd go out on the road. If someone pulled into the drive and opened the car door with Cody there… watch out! You'd have a 12 pound bundle of energy in your car before you could say "wha?"…
As quickly as he would jump into a car, he hated to go anywhere. When we had to take him to the vet he'd yip and bark and whine the whole way… standing up on the seat and looking out the window trying to see where you were taking him. Interestingly enough, when you came home, he would sit quietly, just as he knew you were all done and home was waiting.
When we moved to our new house about five years ago, our son moved back into our old house. Because Cody had learned his limitations, we decided not to make him learn a new area and a new routine and we left him there. Our son was happy to have him back with him as well… not that he'd been out of the house all that long himself, but the few months he'd been living out on his own he'd missed that mutt.
A couple of years ago, some health issues started popping up. He tore his ACL and spent several weeks healing up from that. Never really did get all his muscle tone back, but he managed to get along pretty good with a limp. Then a couple of months ago he started slowing down. About a month ago my daughter-in-law took him to the vet to be checked out and at that time they were considering some explority surgery to see what was going on with him, but with his age they didn't even know then if he'd survive the procedure. The decision was made not to do the surgery and just to make him comfortable and send him home. The diagnosis was cancer.
A couple of weeks ago Hubs and I drove over to pick up my daughter-in-law to take her to the races with us. The dogs were outside (they have another dog, too, a young huskie). Cody slowly, slowly, walked across the drive to the car. Hubs opened the car door and he slowly put his paws on the running board of the car. I went around and picked him up and carried him back to the house – he was light as a feather and his paws just shook with palsy. I could tell he wasn't going to last long.
Son was hoping he'd go in his sleep. On Thursday evening when he got home he said Cody just lay there… and when he gave him a treat, he just dropped it. He hadn't eaten since Monday, only had been drinking water. He was so weak, when he stood him up, he would crumple and fall to the floor. He put him on the sofa, wrapped him in a soft blanket and sat softly crying as he called his wife at work. He'd told us a long time before that he didn't think he'd be able to take him to the vet… he just couldn't do it. His wife is a nurse and a little more used to those "life and death" things. She called the vet, but they couldn't get him in until morning. Hubs and son were going to a race, so I went over and sat with Cody until his wife got home… for about 90 minutes he lay on the sofa, barely moving… I pet him and talked softly to him, telling him what a good dog he'd been, what a good friend. The husky was confused, I'm sure, but they say they know more than we give them credit for. Usually she is a pretty active dog as well, but this night she just climbed up on my other side and lay her head on my lap and let me rub her tummy. When my daughter-in-law got home we talked about the morning and I told her I'd go to the vet with her. She said she would be surprised if he didn't pass during the night, but she'd let me know if we didn't have to go.
Morning came and I got a text "We still need to go". I was already on my way to pick them up.
Son was so upset he could barely speak. I hugged him and we took Cody and headed to the vet. When we arrived, his wife got a text… would we wait for son to come? Of course we would. A few minutes later son walked in … he'd been afraid he wouldn't get to say goodbye and decided as hard as it was for him, he needed to be there for Cody. It is so hard to watch your children suffer…no matter how old they are. Cody had been his companion for half his life. If he was home, Cody wasn't more than a foot away from him at any time. He never got over some of his bad habits, but he had a huge heart and he loved my son to pieces…and the love was returned. To lose Cody was a terrible sadness. He was an "old man" by doggie standards and had led a much better, fuller, more loved life than he ever would have had we not adopted him. This I know. He went peacefully… and is chasing bunnies with Benny, as bright and busy and crazy as he ever did. We'll miss you, psycho dog….