4.19.2009

ten years of cody

A few months ago, we celebrated the two-year anniversary of adopting Tala. Today is the ten-year anniversary of our adopting Cody.

Cody now is probably older than any of our dogs ever were. We think she was between one and two years old when we got her, probably almost two, so that makes her around 12. For a rescue, especially a larger dog, that's quite senior.

I've been sad about Cody lately, wondering if today is our last Cody Day. But she's doing well, enjoying her life, and we're enjoying every day with her.

Cody is an odd duck. I sometimes say she's a cat dressed up in a dog costume, the least "doggy" dog I've ever known. She's strange, quirky - and so sweet.

* * * *

Cody's been through a lot; she's a survivor. Someone found her living on one of the busiest streets in Jackson Heights, Queens. A man selling "meat on a stick" - that's what it's called! - threw a chunk of meat into traffic so she would chase it. A woman saw that, corralled Cody, and took her home. She was ten pounds overweight - the only dog I've ever heard of who was an overweight stray.

The woman who rescued Cody already had four rescued dogs in her small apartment, and she wasn't managing well. She hung up some signs, hoping to place a few of them for adoption.

We lost our first dog - the beloved Gypsy, a dog in a million - in November 1998, and by early 1999 we could no longer stand to see her little friend Clyde so lost and lonely. We needed to adopt a friend for Clyde. I started looking into some breed rescue - I believe this was pre-Petfinder - when Allan saw a sign at work that brought us out to Queens.

Cody was dirty and depressed. She was the last one in the crowded apartment, and she spent her days on a leash tied to a doorknob. We met another dog from the same household who was healthy and high-spirited, but Cody needed us more. Also, Clyde was a very strong alpha terrier, and we thought Cody would be a better fit.

Poor Cody! April 19 was not a very fun day for her. First some strangers put her in a car and drive for an hour. Then she walks for almost an hour, over the George Washington Bridge. (It was my mother's car and we had to return it, then walk home.) Cody had never walked very much, plus the trucks on the bridge are noisy and scary. (There's a pedestrian lane, it's safe, but she didn't buy that.) Then it got worse!

When we got home, I held Cody's leash while Allan went up to get Clyde. Clyde immediately knew what was going on, and set about punishing Cody. She would jump up and nip Cody's face - over and over. This went on for three days. Cody had little pock marks all over her face where Clyde had nipped off her fur.

After three days, Clyde accepted Cody as her slave, and Cody was grateful for the privilege.

Cody adored Clyde. She lived for Clyde's attention. Cody was much bigger than Clyde, and she liked to put her mouth around Clyde's entire head, a show of affection. Clyde, the alpha, was outwardly indifferent to Cody, as she had been to Gypsy; that's how alpha dogs are. But they had a great time together.

We thought it was the beginning of a new era, changing from Gypsy and Clyde to Cody and Clyde.

Four months later, while we were on a baseball road trip, Clyde became very ill. She hung on until we got home, and died two days later.

Gypsy and Clyde were together for nearly 10 years, and we lost them both within 8 months of each other.

[Long pause here.]

Then it was only Cody.

Cody and Clyde had played together constantly. But alone, at the dog park, Cody would just wander around by herself, never playing with other dogs. (She's still like that.) If any dog ever needed another dog to be happy, it was the young Cody.

And we needed another dog, too! Cody was so quiet and dull, it was hardly like having a dog at all.

In December 1999, on the phone with my sister, I said, "I think we're ready to get another dog. The next stray that crosses my path is ours." A week later, I found Buster.

For the next six years, Cody was the constant, faithful, adoring companion to an emotionally disturbed, medically unstable pit-mix.

Our move from New York City to Canada was traumatic for Cody. She huddled in a cave of boxes for ten hours (plenty of stops, as Buster was on high doses of prednisone at the time!). Towards the end, an ironing board crashed down. She hated us.

Cody was depressed for two weeks after the move. But after she snapped out of it, she discovered the joys of a backyard, neighbours (she lived for the sound of our next-door neighbour's gate opening, so she could run over to say hello), walking by a lake, and of course... sticks.

Ten weeks later, we lost Buster.

[Long pause here.]

Then, again, it was only Cody.

Strangely (to me), Cody was never depressed after Buster's death. She settled in to her only-dog life, and seemed very happy. Her life actually improved, as without our special-needs boy, we could do more, and Cody could often come along.

But Cody just isn't enough dog for us. It was a full year after Buster's death before we were ready to think about getting another dog, but a few months after that, along came Tala.

Cody's life was ruined. For a while. But dogs are pack animals, they want to live with other creatures, and eventually Cody accepted Tala as part of her pack. Today, they love each other, in that asymetrical dog-love way: Tala loves Cody and Cody permits her to do so. But since the arrival of Tala, Cody is healthier - she's lost weight, gained muscle, is more active, more spry.

As I write this, I hear them playing in the backyard outside my window. Those playful grunts and growls are the sweetest sounds.

* * * *

Allan put together a little photo retrospective of our life with Cody.


First pics of Cody, Upstate New York, 1999

cody upstate


Cody and Clyde, Summer 1999

clyde & cody 02



Cody and Buster, New York City

sit_stand

cody_sad_eyes



cmtc (cody moves to canada)

drive_north 007



First Nap in Canada

drive_north 022



Port Credit Yard

moving in 014



Playing with Buster

pups at play 002



Forks of the Credit, October 2005

fork of the credit 03

fork of the credit 09



US Thanksgiving in New Jersey, November 2005

canadian cody 002



Cody in Winter

cody backyard snow 007



wmtc1 (2006)

wmtc party 6.17.06 009

wmtc party 6.17.06 001



Sticks!

cody raking leaves 002

cody raking leaves 008



US Thanksgiving, 2006

thanks nj 07



We Meet Tala

tala016



Cooksville Backyard

new house 01.04.07 012



More Sticks!

dogs in the sun 08



EZ-Bake Cody

dogs in the sun 05



Snow, February 2008

backyard snow feb 07 08 024

tala cody backyard snow2 007



Mid-Hike Treats

elora gorge 29 april 08 011



August 2008

tala & cody august 08



Dirt Dog

cody dirt 004

tala cody autumn 2008 055



January 2009

tala cody snow jan 09 062

37 comments:

penlan said...

Lovely, just lovely!!!

M@ said...

Awwww. Happy Cody day! She's a real sweetheart. Here's to not only this Cody day, but next Cody day too.

redsock said...

The flyer at work mentioned a rottweiler mix. That was the dog we went out to see. The woman then asked if we wanted to see a "shepherd mix". We are suckers for those types of dogs, so we said sure.

Out came Cody, who resembled a shepherd about as much as a frog. The thing I remember most is that her fur looked all shiny and greenish, like fish scales. She didn't seem particular dirty, but she looked weird.

All of the pictures came from L's Flickr sets, if you want to see more.

L-girl said...

Thank you Penlan!

"The woman then asked if we wanted to see a "shepherd mix"."

Oh right, "the Shepherd mix"! Our ears perked up...and then we saw her.

Carol said, I see you don't like this one. We were like, no, no, we like her... We were just confused because there was no Shepherd mix in sight!

Funny, when people ask what kind of dog Cody is, I've taken to calling her a "lab-shepherd mix", just to have something to say. That is at least part of what she is. :)

L-girl said...

Thanks M@. :)

redsock said...

She's not a dog. She's Cody.

Amy said...

Wonderful and touching post. A few questions: When Clyde kept attacking Cody, did you ever feel like you had made a mistake and should return Cody? It must have been so hard to see them both miserable at the very beginning.

Second, how long did it take for Cody to get over the move? That part of your story made me worry about how my three will cope with our upcoming move.

Thanks for sharing the Cody story. She sure is a survivor, having shared her life with three of your dogs plus three different homes with you and who knows what before you guys adopted her.

West End Bob said...

Happy Anniversary to all of you!

I love "Four-Footed-Child" stories - even the sad parts . . . .

Stephanie said...

Our Negrita is also said to be a lab-shepherd mix but I can't see the shepherd in her at all. She is about 10 yrs old and she and Cody look very much alike.

Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

Lab-shepherd seems to be how many shelters describe lots of mixed breed dogs who do not look like any other obvious breed. I doubt there is anything terribly scientific about it!

Stephanie said...

Sorry I had technical difficulties thus two more or less identical posts. ooops!

L-girl said...

Stephanie, no problem, and thank you! I love the name Negrita. David recently helped us with some info about the ramp we were looking for (see a few posts ago), and I said the same to him.

Amy, you are such a worrier. I will answer your q's in a bit.

L-girl said...

Thank you Bob. :)

L-girl said...

"When Clyde kept attacking Cody, did you ever feel like you had made a mistake and should return Cody? It must have been so hard to see them both miserable at the very beginning."

Absolutely not. Never.

A, it would never occur to either of us to give up on an animal. We would never return a dog, for any reason, under any circumstances.

B, they weren't miserable, they were adjusting. Whenever a new dog is added to a pack, the whole pack shifts in stature and has to adjust. That's all that was happening.

"Second, how long did it take for Cody to get over the move? That part of your story made me worry about how my three will cope with our upcoming move."

She was depressed for two weeks.

Please try not to worry about this. You'll be there, all their familiar things will be there. Nothing bad will be happening to them.

It's a transition. They'll experience it, and they'll move on.

"She sure is a survivor, having shared her life with three of your dogs plus three different homes with you and who knows what before you guys adopted her."

I know! Her low-key, even temper really serves her well. Poor Buster, or even Gypsy, both MUCH more intense, high-strung dogs, would not have fared so well.

And thanks, Amy, I knew you'd appreciate this post. :)

Amy said...

What? Me worry? LOL!

I knew what your answer to my first question would be, but was curious. I know that each time we have introduced a new pet that I have had moments of saying, "Oh, what have we done!" But we have never thought of returning the animal (except for the one dog we had for two days who snapped at our children; I still feel guilty about that, though she did end up in a very happy adult-only family).

As for the move, I am actually not too worried, as we have schlepped the dog and cats back and forth to the Cape, and they always do fine. I am a bit worried about not having a yard for Cassie, but that will likely be more an adjustment for us than for her. More walks will only make her happier, but in the rain and cold, it will be tougher on us!

L-girl said...

Amy, if the dog ended up with an appropriate family, then there's nothing to feel guilty about. We found dogs that we didn't keep, but found homes for - same thing, I think.

What we went through with Buster is best described as an oddysey. Our lives revolved around him. And we never considered giving him up. Of course, giving up Buster would have meant putting him down! But still, I think that pretty much closes the book on the idea of "returning" dogs.

To us, adopting an animal is a commitment for the life of the animal. Period.

L-girl said...

Also, I really want to emphasize, I didn't think Cody and Clyde's early dynamic was something bad or negative. I just thought it was part of the process.

When we brought home Tala, people who know mild-mannered Cody would have been shocked to see her snarling and growling at Tala with her teeth fully bared! Cody *hated* having Tala in the house. That adjustment took a long time!

Amy said...

I agree with you about the lifetime commitment---and have the vet bills to prove it! We have not been tested like you have, however, as we have had incredible luck with our pets' temperaments (if not always their health). Maybe we just have been very cautious before diving in (surprise, surprise) whereas I think you and Allan have been more willing to take chances on dogs who really need the help and love you provide. I commend you for that and am grateful that there are people like you two who will take on a difficult dog like Buster.

Adam said...

I make noise about wanting a dog on an almost daily basis. I used to own a Golden Retriever mix and guess what kind of puppy the neighbor brought home a couple of weeks ago? It gets so excited watching my partner and I walk to and from our unattached garage and back door. It'll bounce over and grab one of its toys trying to interact with us best it can through a rather heavy fence. So adorable it kills me I want one so badly. But now is not the time in my life. Soon enough. When I again have a backyard, perhaps. Thanks for the post and pix!

Kim_in_TO said...

Happy Anniversary! I found I knew most of this already (which makes it feel as though I've known you forever!) but still enjoyed reading it, and most of all, seeing the pics.

L-girl said...

"We have not been tested like you have, however, as we have had incredible luck with our pets' temperaments (if not always their health)."

Buster had an fantastic temperament, once he trusted. But he had been so badly abused, that trust was very difficult.

Most of the gazillions of dollars we spent on him were health-related. The hard work and wariness was trust-related.

"Maybe we just have been very cautious before diving in (surprise, surprise) whereas I think you and Allan have been more willing to take chances on dogs who really need the help and love you provide. I commend you for that and am grateful that there are people like you two who will take on a difficult dog like Buster."

Well, I thank you, but we never felt like we had much choice. He found us. You see an animal on the street, dying, and you take him in. After that, it was either put him down or go the distance. But thanks, I'll take your commendation all the same. :)

L-girl said...

"it kills me I want one so badly. But now is not the time in my life."

I know just what you mean! I was like that for a long time. I found it wasn't so much the backyard (we had dogs in an apartment for nearly 18 years), as the time and the lifestyle changes. And if you don't have a backyard, it does require a much bigger time commitment.

I hope you can get a pup soon!! There is nothing like it.

L-girl said...

"I found I knew most of this already (which makes it feel as though I've known you forever!) but still enjoyed reading it, and most of all, seeing the pics."

Uh-oh, this probably means I post about my dogs too often! But I'm very glad you enjoyed it anyway.

Amy said...

There can never be too many dog posts!

impudent strumpet said...

YAY Cody! I just love her expression when she has a stick. Those sticks must contain quantities of awesome previously unknown to humanity.

Stephanie said...

Oh and the photos remind me of another thing that Cody and Negrita have in common...digging holes!

Negrita loves to dig into the ground near the fence or the wall of the garage and lay in there with her back against the fence or wall for hours.

Apparently typical of labs, she is afraid of anything that makes noise. Thunder storms and firecrackers are the worst sending her into trembling fits that last hours. During these periods she is only consoled by being as near to her bipeds as possible preferably with back up against a solid wall while also under a very solid piece of furniture.

I think of the holes she digs as providing a similar sense of security for her.

L-girl said...

Another dog that makes a dirt ditch - how cool! This is something we never would have known, had we not left urban life for the suburbs.

But Cody has only developed her fears and anxieties in her older age. The vet said it's like canine senile dementia. :)

Gypsy - a Shepherd-Husky mix, mostly Shepherd - was terrified of firecrackers all her life. In our neighbourhoods, there was always a lot of activity for days leading up to the 4th of July - it was horrible. She would actually get physically ill, and it would take a long time to clear up.

That's why we decided we had to get her out of the city for the 4th weekend, and a long tradition was born, going upstate with our dogs...

Cornelia said...

Wow, cute!!

Cornelia said...

Funny, when people ask what kind of dog Cody is, I've taken to calling her a "lab-shepherd mix", just to have something to say. That is at least part of what she is. :)

Yeah, she does show the black labrador-part!

Cornelia said...

Our Negrita is also said to be a lab-shepherd mix but I can't see the shepherd in her at all. She is about 10 yrs old and she and Cody look very much alike.

Definitely if she looks similar...I already made the point re: the black lab part. So cute!

Cornelia said...

though she did end up in a very happy adult-only family).

Sounds like a great solution for everybody to me, no worries!!!

Cornelia said...

I hope you can get a pup soon!! There is nothing like it.

I will get a kitty later when it fits me in financially, haha! The vets' bills are so expensive and the welfare can't provide for animals and it would also be very hard on jobs that are less well paid and not so secure. No worries, I am still young and in the meantime, the Asian water buffaloes in our zoo are also cute and tame, haha, and I always appreciate any opportunities to cuddle with cute tame kitties, too!

Cornelia said...

Yeah, I know fireworks are no fun for animals, Laura and Stephanie!
Actually, they can really be quite loud. Once, I remember calling the police: "Sorry, but there is some noise and stuff looks weird on the sky, I hope there's nothing going on which is not supposed to happen...?" And the officer told me it was only the firework of the city funfair! And I said thank God, it's not Al-Qaida!!! Haha...

JakeNCC said...

I love your dog stories. I'm also a dog lover and I just love to hear of others who treat their dogs so well. Sometimes I think non-dog people don't understand just how unique each and every dog is. Their personalities are always different. I've had 3 great danes and while they have all looked similar they couldn't have been more different, each with special needs and wants and habits. I love the one I have now so much. My favourite part is when she sits and just stares at me. The times after she's been fed and taken out and wants for nothing but just sits and stares as if to say " what a lucky dog I am."

redsock said...

The times after she's been fed and taken out and wants for nothing but just sits and stares as if to say " what a lucky dog I am".

I think that about Tala all the time. She is often totally content to sit outside on the patio staring out at the yard, keeping an eye on everything. For hours!

In the evening, she'll often sack out on one of the many mats we have around the house, or in her crate.

She's a young, lively dog and seems to always be smiling.

L-girl said...

Oh, Great Danes, such wonderful dogs! Except their life spans are so short, as I don't need to tell you.

You know, that staring is a beautiful thing. I love to watch Tala lay on her patio and stare out at the backyard. I just love it.

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who wrote The Hidden Life of Dogs (one of my favourite books), says that's what dogs want most. Once their needs are all met, if their bellies are full and they are warm and untroubled, they want to simply lie down, with their forelegs outstretched, and look at the world. Beautiful, isn't it?

I agree, Jake, I wonder if non-dog-lovers can ever "get" this. Thanks for sharing.

L-girl said...

Allan and I posted the same thing at the same time! :)