who has so totally enriched my life, let me first tell you how I came to meet the little miracle...
It was the day before Thanksgiving, 2003. I was on my lunch break at work, and as I cruised along I passed by the pound and my heart began to swell and my eyes filled with tears at the thought of a dog being put down during the holiday. Wanting to rescue them all, but knowing it not possible I decided that at least one dog was finding a new home!
After finding a parking spot I pretended to be cool as I strolled into dog prison looking to rescue an innocent life from death's row. I was ushered into the kennel by a mildly retarded man whose job it was to guide me around in hopes that I wouldn't walk out the door empty handed. Walking past cage after cage, dogs sprung up at the door jumping for joy at the site of a human and they began audibly calling to me, "Pick me! Pick me!" My heart was breaking as I wanted to save each and every last one of them. I was beginning to get really convinced that coming here had been a really bad idea as I was now quite sure that my pain could get no worse.
As I came upon this little guy's cage, he did not rush the door. He didn't jump up and down and shout that deafening cry of "Pick me! Pick me!" Heck, he didn't even pant or look up. He seemingly just rolled his eyes at me and turned his head away as if to say, "Go on; keep walking. Everyone else does!" Seeing this little guy who had given up because he had grown tired of others giving up on him was simply too much for me. There was no doubt in my mind; he was the one!
The man led us back to a private room so that we could spend five minutes alone together. He said that was part of their policy as it seemed to help keep dogs from being brought back by owners who decided that they had grabbed the wrong dog. With that we spent our five minutes with the little guy doing all he could to avoid me. He was going out of his way to make it very clear to me that he had been in this room before and was growing awfully tired of the charade. I could have sworn I heard him whisper, "Mister, can you just let me go back to my cage and die now?" I answered with a simple, "No." I then looked at my escort and told the gentleman, "Yes sir, he'll be coming home with me."
The paperwork was signed, and a leash wrapped around his little neck. In the main room, it was still clear he didn't believe that he was yet free. I was beginning to wonder if the little guy was ever going to take to me. My fears worsened as I tried dragging him out the door, but he refused to go. I picked him up and carried him out the door. As I sat him back down, he began to walk right back towards the prison from which I had just freed him. I sighed heavily as I thought, 'By God, if this is a test of stubbornness -- I'm going to win out!'
I picked him up and carried him to the car. After sitting him in the passenger's seat I called my wife to let her know that I was bringing home a dog I had rescued. She was very "thankful" about my not having talked to her about it, but after a little lecture she played the submissive role and told me she would see us when we got home. We pulled out of the parking lot and started on the half hour journey home with my new dog lying down in the seat looking away from me. 'You don't trust me; do you pal?' was the only thought that kept repeating in my brain.
Fifteen minutes of travel behind us and an amazing thing happened. Cody stood up; looked at me; and then hopped across the passenger's seat into my lap before lying back down. I beamed brightly and held the steering wheel nervously as I had never had to drive while balancing a small dog in my lap before. Somehow we both made it back to our apartment in one piece, and I readied to walk him past our other dog before putting him in another prison, our spare bedroom, where he would have to remain with the door sealed for four days as he came home with kennel cough. Amanda had made it very clear to me on the phone, and face to face after the door opened, that he had to stay away from Sadie until he was well.
Feeling terrible for freeing him from jail only to come home and lock him up in solitary confinement, I chose to spend every minute of the holiday weekend (that my wife allowed me) lying at his side and petting him so that he wouldn't feel so all alone.
Eventually his cough died and he was set free to meet his new sister Sadie. For the most part she accepted him immediately, although the whole sharing of her toys took awhile, and our family was transformed into a two human, two canine group. It would remain that way for a year before Amanda and I would actually become outnumbered three to two, but that's a story for another day.
Anyhow, that is how I came to rescue Cody. Now, if you'll allow me I'd like to tell you how he came to rescue me.
Sure, Cody did all of the things that other dogs do... The anxious greeting when you come through the door; the dog kisses that tickle your face; the 'Yes you may rub my belly' gesture; and of course lets not forget the resting of the head on your hand or leg to let you know that you make them feel safe -- were all a part of his repertoire like they are of any other pooch. Yet, he showed his loyalty in so many other ways.
This same dog who first acted as though I was the villain in our story followed me everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE. Cody was my shadow! Until we put a bed by the computer desk, which he always sought out when I sat at the computer, he would wait for his geek dad to have a seat and then he would position himself for rest either on my feet or two inches from the chair. Should I choose to get up and go to the bathroom, he was going to be right there beside me. The same was true if I was getting a drink of water, heading to my room, or most especially opening up that refrigerator door. He was just there!
Cody slept in bed with Amanda and I. On many nights, he would wake me up with his nose as he would do his best to wiggle underneath the covers and cuddle up next to me. For a year I thought he did this because he was cold, especially after he began losing his hair due to Cushings disease, but it is probably more likely that he just wanted to lay next to "Dad." I say this because, he continued doing this behavior even after we began wrapping him in little blankets. Eventually, it was likely that he would find his way out of his swaddling clothes and huddled up against me under the covers.
Never was his trust in me more evident than his first bath, nail trimming, or in my opening the sores that developed on him in his last year with us. The first time he developed one of these crazy sores we took him to an all night hospital, and in spite of the veterinarian numbing Cody he still shouted loudly when they cut open the sore to allow it to breathe. Having seen what they did, and not enjoying Cody's cries, the next time I decided to do it myself. Not having a numbing agent, my eyes began to water as the razor sharp blade touched the flesh of my little buddy. Much to my surprise and satisfaction he didn't whimper, flinch, bark, or make any movement whatsoever. It was as though, "Daddy" could do no wrong, and he was in complete comfort with whatever I needed to do to him.
Having had a pretty tough go of things the last couple of years, Cody never disappointed to let me know that he was more dependable than any Kleenex. When things got tough, and I was punched in the face by life's sniffles, tears, pain, and disappointment he was always there to nuzzle me with his nose or to lightly tap me three or four times with his paw saying, "Don't worry Dad. Just pick me up, cuddle me, and everything will be all better. You'll see." And, he was always right!
Plagued with a whole host of health problems, that he never seemed to be bothered by, for most of his life with us, I can safely say that while he was only my dog for four years he will forever remain my hero.
So from JaceMan to CodeMan, I offer up this tribute and I only pray that I was not selfish in keeping you around these last two years. It is my hope that you were always as happy and cheerful as you seemed, in spite of your illnesses, and weren't merely pretending for my benefit. Should you ever come across this web site pal, always remember -- Daddy loves you!