Friday, January 2, 2009


As I grew up, I always knew that I wanted a German Shepherd Dog. I even believed that I would name him (it would be a boy) 'Codi'. There was something about GSD's loyalty and their beauty that drew me in. Once I was married, I already had two dogs, a Shiba Inu amd a Jack Russell. The desire of having a German Shepherd never wavered.

In September of 1996, I learned that there was GSD male pup at a local pound. Against my husband's advice, I made an appointment to meet the puppy. My husband was concerned because we already had two dogs and he wanted to be a Police K9 Officer. He thought four dogs would be too much. I had to meet the pup, though. There was something driving me to go.

At the pound, the Animal Control Officer brought this long legged GSD boy out of his run. He had the floppiest ears and the goofiest attitude. He wasn't afraid of anything and started licking me instantly. His whole body wiggled when he wagged his tail. I knew this was my boy. There was something about him that made my heart happy. I shelled out a whopping $5.00 for him, signed the paperwork saying I would have him neutered and away we went.

Over the next few days, I made all my vet appointments (who later determined the pup was about 4 months old) and set about naming him. My husband did not like the name Codi. It wasn't "tough enough" for a GSD. So, we tried many names on him. I kept coming back to Codi and he seemed to respond to the name better than all of the others. Codi it was.

Over the next years, Codi and I bonded stronger than any of the other dogs in the family. My husband became a K9 officer and we added dog #4 to our pack. Codi remained as goofy as ever. Anytime I had to go in the car on an errand, Codi would come with me. I always felt safe with him around. He would patiently wait in the car watching diligently for my return. Those ears never stood up, though, and he forever looked like a puppy.

Of course, he was not above getting into doggie trouble with his K9 brother, Jag. They both once ate 20lbs of Italian cookies within the space of 5 minutes. Nothing was left but a bunch of crumbs all over the kitchen floor. Codi also learned how to open the doors in the house and break out of any crate imaginable without disturbing anything. We would come home and find him sitting outside of the crate and the crate in perfect condition. There were also occasions when he would run off of our property and I would frantically search for him until he would sheepishly come home.

In 2002 I took Codi away from his pack. My husband and I split up and I had no choice but to leave the other dogs behind. I rented a house on a lake and Codi was in pure heaven. There were plenty of swimming days and tons of squirrels to chase. I watched him change from goofy to protector. It seemed as if he realized he was in charge of the protection in the household. His ears even stood up at six years old! I have a severe abhorrence of spiders and mice. I happened to live in a cottage that had almost every species of spiders imaginable and tons of mice. Whenever I would call across the house, "Codi, spider!" Codi would come running, look around the room until he located the offender, eat it, and then look up at me with the happiest "I saved you, Mommy!" look on his face. There were also times that I would come home from work to find a dead mouse laying on the kitchen floor and Codi sitting by it wagging his tail. I would tell him, "Get the mouse" he would pick it up by the tail and when I commanded him to bring it outside and leave it, he would deposit it in the leaves and then come back for his loving. He was always so proud of himself! My boy had the brightest light in his intelligent eyes that I had ever seen in a dog. The best days we had at the cottage were the ones when we would sit on the edge of our dock and watch the boats go by.

Well, the door opening also continued. One night, while I was working the midnight shift, my neighbors called to say that Codi was sitting at the bottom of the stairs to my cottage and barking non-stop. When they checked on him, they found him staring up the stairs to the parking area (we lived at the bottom of a 42 step staircase) and the door to the cottage wide open. When I went home to lock the house back up, I found tooth marks in the dead bolt. Apparently, dead bolts weren't even a deterrent for him! He even, accidentally, locked the dog sitter out of the house when he was trying to get out of the house again!

Codi's separation anxiety really started to blossom the older he became. After we moved to an apartment, he crushed the doorknob to the outside door, I am sure in an attempt to open it. One day he even pulled all of the molding off from around the door. When my boyfriend (now husband) tried to pull the rest of the molding off to fix it, he couldn't even pry it without tools! Codi was extremely strong! Once we moved in with my boyfriend, we attempted to keep Codi in a crate. (We were afraid he would break through a wall length window in our foyer trying to locate me.) We tried every crate imaginable, even the supposed "gorilla tough" indestructible types. Nothing could keep Codi in. He would give us a look like, "Are you kidding me?" and you could see his wheels turning on how to get out. When we returned, Codi had the wires mangled and would always be on the outside of the crate. He chewed on so many crates that his teeth were starting to wear down to nubs. A repairman once asked my husband if we owned a grizzly bear! Trust me, I tried every calming solution out there, including, meds, which I hated and immediately took him off of, on to natural remedies and pheromone sprays. Finally, we were able to contain him by building him a wooden pen in part of the basement. It's not to say that he didn't try to get out, but he was never able to figure out how to do it exactly!

Codi was never overly sick a day in his life. Around 10 years old he started having some hip problems, but nothing too severe. I didn't know which season he liked better, summer or winter. Summer days were spent lazing in the grass and chasing balls and winters were spent playing in the snow and chasing snowballs. He would bark relentlessly at us until we would throw the biggest chunk of snow at him. He loved it.

In December of 2007, I noticed Codi wasn't really acting like himself. My husband kept telling me Codi was fine, but I felt something deep down was wrong. He would lay on the floor with his head between his paws and look up at me with pleading eyes. Codi never laid in this position, but I did not take him to the vet. After all, what would I tell them, Codi was laying down differently and was looking at me funny? Now, I wish I had listened to my instincts.

In January, the coughing stated. Codi also started ignoring his food, which I knew was a total sign of something being wrong. He never skipped a meal. Off to the vet we went. My vet thought he had a cold and prescribed him some antibiotics. His glands were slightly swollen and the cough was starting to turn into a wheeze. We did an x-ray on him to see if there was something going on. The vet only saw that his trachea was slightly raised up and his heart looked a little funny on one side. She wasn't really concerned though, because his heart was normal size. She wanted to have the surgeon check Codi before we tried an MRI on him. She thought that Codi may have to have a minor surgery to fix his trachea. On February 18th, I brought Codi to see the surgeon. I had started to notice that the glands in Codi's neck were starting to swell. Once the surgeon checked the glands in Codi's neck and the rest of his body, he stood up white as a ghost and declared that every gland in Codi's body was enlarged. I knew by his face that it could be cancer. The surgeon aspirated a neck gland and my stoic boy never even moved a muscle.

During the next couple of days as I waited for a definitive answer, I tried to wrap my mind around the possibility of my strong boy having cancer. I researched everything I could and everything on the internet was pointing towards a very short life expectancy. A nine month time frame was the longest I found. I couldn't put Codi through chemo at his age as he was 11 years old. Two days after the visit to the surgeon, my main vet called with the diagnosis, Codi had lymphoma. She gave him 1-3 months to live. I was shocked and broken hearted. This couldn't be happening! Within a week, I brought Codi to a holistic vet, hoping upon hope that we would have a miracle. The treatments started to work for about two weeks. I had to go away for two weeks, which included nonrefundable vacation and another week of training for work. I was never so torn in my life. I left Codi in the very capable hands of first, my parents for the vacation, and second my husband for the week of training. The reports while I was away were not encouraging. He was having good days and then he would have a really bad day. It was now mid March. A month after Codi's initial diagnosis.

When I came home, Codi had a great day and I was so hopeful. We had an 11 month old puppy at this time. The three of us set out into the back yard to have fun in the snow. I built them a snowman and Codi and the pup had fun jumping on it and tearing it down. Codi even wanted me to throw the snowballs at him, which I gladly obliged him. That was the last good day he had. Over the next couple of days, Codi would only get up to go outside. I was feeding him chicken broth and rice, but even that wouldn't hold his interest. One night, he was having a horrible time breathing. I still couldn't bring myself to face the truth. I was waiting for a miracle. Codi was pretty despondent and wouldn't even respond when I called his name. I asked him to give me a sign. He was the only one who could give me permission to do the unthinkable. Immediately, he reached out both his front paws, grabbed my hand and pulled it to his chest. I had my answer. Codi was asking me to let him go.

On March 25, 2008, my husband and I said goodbye to Codi. He was two months away from turning 12 years old. I love this dog more than I ever thought it would be possible to love a dog. He was like a child to me. We have another puppy now, but the house is still empty of my big boy's presence. I miss him every day and look for signs that he is still around. Sometimes, when I am having a really bad day, he sends me the signs. I don't think I will ever stop missing him and I know that some day, I will see him again. Until then, I have memories of the greatest dog I have ever known. I love you, Codi.


Crazy Dog Mom said...

Your $5.00 pund puppy Codi, ended up as priceless in your heart! So glad you had him almost 12 years. Bless your heart.

Anonymous said...

Could you please leave us a picture of Codi. I remember him from the calendar, but I'd like to see him again. He really was a beautiful boy and I'm so glad you found each other.

Vicki Tankersley said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful story of Codi. It is always so terribly sad when our "kids" leave us.

Love, Blazer, Kitty Kimber & Mom

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful dog Codi must have been. You sure gave him a wonderful life and I'm sure he is smiling down on you. That had to be the best $5 you ever spent!

MyFuZZyButtZ said...

Codi was a Real Dream Come True. A blessing in your life, from day one.

As I read your words, I could see the sparkle in his eyes, his love for you glowing from the inside. He truly loved workin' you too, being able to outsmart you whenever you tried to confine him. I know you laugh until you cry, whenever you remember your Codi.

Thanks for sharing your fuzzy love. ♥

Andrea said...

What a beautiful and heartbreaking story. Both you & Codi were so lucky that you found each other. Several of my friends read your story and everyone of them were in tears (myself included).
Andrea (Cinnamon & Ephram's mom)

Anonymous said...

Codi was a beautiful boy! What wonderful colors he had. And such a compelling face. German Shepherds, a friend once told me, are dogs who look into your soul. Having had Shepherds, I know it to be true.

Uncle Big Dog said...

What a handsome boy Codi was and lucky to have such loving parents!

Hudson, Murphy, & Luke

Anonymous said...

I am Codi's "Grandmom" and had the pleasure of taking care of him when his mom and dad went on vacation. He was a wonderful boy and the hole he has left since his departure is huge. He was a lap dog who weighed 80 lbs.!

The last time we took care of Codi was when he was sick. One evening we had settled in after dinner to watch TV. He came over to me, put his paw in my hand and licked my face. I knew he was saying goodbye to me. I could not stop the tears. It was very hard to leave when it was time because I knew I would not see him again. Codi lives in our hearts and memories.