What's All This Then?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I was all prepared to start the week yesterday with a response to the latest Kraurthammer invective, some comments on the idiot child who is trying to besmirch Paula Abdul as an entry ticket to fifteen minutes of infamy and on one or two other annoyances - but events intervened to make them all seem insignificant and somehow not worthy of even passing interest. At least not today. And certainly not yesterday.

Yesterday, I lost a piece of my life. My dog Cody died. Actually, it would be more technically accurate to say she was euthanized. But hours before that act of mercy took place, Cody had decided that she could live no longer. She told us that in the only way she could. She stopped eating. Not just regular food which she would routinely snarf in seconds and then give us a quizzical look as though to ask "is that all there is" - but special treats - including pupperoni and ice cream which she always shared with me when I had some for dessert.

There will be no obituary for Cody in my local paper, which is the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune doesn’t publish pet obituaries. There are obscure pages where you can publish a dog obituary. You can find them on line. But they’re for people who I think had a different relationship with their dogs than I had with Cody. Cody I’m sure would have agreed that this was the most appropriate place to record her obituary.

We’re not sure how old Cody was. We think between 12 and 13. We’re not sure because we weren’t in on Cody’s birth. Some sub-humanoid had possession of Cody before we met her. A sub-humanoid who tied her to a street post and abandoned her. She was rescued by our neighbor - given the name by which she was loved for the rest of her life - and moved in with her dog Annie , who viewed that event with a jaundiced cock of the head. Cody and Annie lived together for three years, visiting with us constantly and getting into vicious fights with each other once or twice a year. Their last fight was the one that separated them and moved Cody to our house permanently. Everyone figured if they fought again, one of them wouldn’t survive. Maybe neither of them.

That was eight years ago.

Cody was described by the vet as "part Pit," but we thought of her as a lovable and loving mutt who was as gentle as a lamb with people - from little babies to doddering old farts. It was her life’s work - to exude love - and she did it with disarming charm and grace.

She got sick suddenly last December - or at least she exhibited the first sign of sickness last December. The day after we’d had our carpets cleaned, we woke to find blood splattered everywhere. On the carpeting, On our bedspread, On wood floors. At first we thought Cody must have injured a foot, but we soon saw that the blood was coming from her nose. The vet’s tentative diagnosis was a tumor or polyp. A fungal or bacterial infection could also cause that kind of nose bleed, but was thought less likely to be the cause. The only way to be sure was to run tests that cost in the many thousands - far too expensive for us to contemplate - particularly because the odds of successfully treating any of these possible ailments was poor.

We never were able to get a definitive diagnosis and though we treated her with antibiotics on the slim chance that her problems stemmed from an infection of some kind, Cody never stopped bleeding from her nose and she slowly went downhill with increasing difficulty in breathing .

So what kind of an obituary can we write for Cody? Loving daughter of so and so? Dear granddaughter of so and so? Devoted sister to so and so? Probably not. She was after all a dog - albeit a dog who was considered a member of our family - and an equal member at that.

But she was loved dearly and will be missed by many, including people whose names are Sherri and Nancy and Scott and Diane and Dee and Karen and Randy and Jill and Jerry and Amanda.

I wrote about dogs last July, and perhaps the best obituary I can offer for Cody are the words of Sir Walter Scott that I included in that piece.

Recollect that the Almighty
Who gave the dog
To be companion
Of our pleasures and our toils,
Hath invested him with a noble nature
And incapable of deceit
I don’t know about the "Almighty," but just change "him" to "her" and you have a perfect description of our Cody - our companion for the last eight years of our pleasures and our toils, invested with the noblest of natures and incapable of any kind of deceit.

And I’m sure the spirit of Shakespeare won’t mind me paraphrasing his words as we say goodbye to our beautiful friend.

Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight sweet Cody. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.