This is about my son’s dog, Koda. She was meant as a gift to me for Christmas in 1992 from Sam. He wanted me to have a ‘pal’ to keep company with since I was living alone for the very first time in my life. I wasn’t in any shape to take on the care and training of a pet, and reluctantly said I just couldn’t do it.
Sam kept the pup, a little mix from a friend who had a litter. He named the pup Koda…K-Girl…and sometimes just K. When he would travel on jobs, Koda came to my place to stay and be taken care of. She was a fun pup. When Sam got her he was living near Keswick road in the Hampden area of Baltimore and he decided to ‘crate train’ Koda.
I had not heard of that before, and at first thought it a bit cruel, but soon I learned she loved the ‘crate’ would actually run into it when we left the apartment to go out. On our return, a trip outside with Koda and business taken care of, back inside where she had free run of the living quarters.
Bob Chance commented when a dog is the sole companion for someone living alone, they become an integral part of your life and your love. Letting go when a dog, or cat or any truly loved pet, is reaching the end of the trail is especially difficult. Just as taking care of a parent or a child is a special needs part of our own life journey, seeing the decline of a dog can be one of the toughest stages of life any of us can endure.
Some pals have lost a pet by accident, a pup running into the road and being hit by a car left one friend of mine so shattered he vowed he would never, ever own a pet again. So far he hasn’t. My thought was to get another as soon as possible, and replace the love you had before with a new and vital pup.
One dog our family shared love with, Boo, was poisoned by an Army Major, who conveniently was transferred the day after the deed. The veterinarian Doctor Dick Faber said it was a terrible act to commit. Boo could never be replaced, and it took a while for us to think of another one.
There are two sides to that one, and mine is clouded now, as I see Koda when she comes up to Rustica with Sam when he fishes.
He has to carry her out of the Durango, and gently put her on the green grass…where she meanders and sniffs and does all the things a dog does on new territory after riding out of the city. She stumbles now, and is unsteady on her paws…but she still radiates a love, a love and urge to sniff my hand as I approach her slowly.
Just as she did when she was a pup, she still has the heart of a little dog, a dog meant for one goal in it’s life…to make the companion happy…and to love unconditionally the hand that feeds her and keeps her safe from harm.
There’s no way now for any of us in the family to keep Koda safe from harm and the eventual fate her age and condition have dictated.
When I see Koda and Sam at the pond I have to keep my two pups at the house, sadly. Sam doesn’t think she can handle the playfulness of the three dogs together. I disagree wholeheartedly, and feel it would be wise to let her be with other dogs, especially now…my pups are younger and want to play, but we could keep them calm and easy going around Koda.
Unfortunately that hasn’t come to pass, yet…and maybe, with the path Koda’s on now, it will never come to fruition. Just the way things are.
So I leave the pond bench, and Sam and his pup…and walk back up the hill to the house and my Frisco and L’il Dude…and my nose is stinging and eyes a little bleary with emotion that pours out in a burst of urgency.
The Dude is first to greet me, Frisco a little slower knows full well there is another dog, Koda, nearby…and wants to check her out, as she has done so many times before. Dogs maybe know when to say ‘goodbye’…they sure know when a car is coming in the lane long before I do.
The folks who don’t have dogs may find this meaningless, while others will know of what I write. The writing about dogs is always a gift for me to share. All my life there have been dogs, cats, snakes, tropical fish, and every critter that our family found as orphans who needed a temporary home and then were released back from whence they came.
Those days are gone but not forgotten. Today, living alone with the Dude and Frisco my life is one of love when I drive up the lane coming home…or when they are with me and I open the car door to let them out when I turn onto the lane…they enjoy the race to the house, a quarter mile up ahead. I watch their bodies moving in rhythm darting back and forth and then into the brush…over a down oak tree, across the stream, around the rocks and then into the soybean field.
I watch this and hope it lasts forever…prompted by the fact that I know it won’t …i won’t either…none of us will. It’s the Scots-Irish in me that brings out this melancholy briefly, and I work to remove the thought and get on with the pleasure of seeing my pals having fun, doing the ‘dog thing’…
There’s gonna be one less dog coming to Rustica, not too far away from now, and that’s gonna be a tough one for Sam, me and all of us who love dogs…it’s just the way things are, and we have to accept them…just like the loss of a loved one, a wife, a husband…a brother, a mom and a dad…we are still standing, and mourn for the losses of a part of us…and we try to fill those gaps, and move on…and we do, most of the time…slowly, with a tear in the eye, a pain in the heart…and a gratefulness that we shared what we did for however long we were allowed.