A couple of weeks ago I recieved an e-mail from a family who was devestated. Their 10 year old fury friend had biten their one year old daughter, not once but twice. The ER doctor that stiched their daughter up told them they had to put the dog to sleep. Imagine, your best friend that lived with you, moved with you all the way from Hawaii, slept in your room, went on big walks….now you had to put him to sleep. Of course their daughter was most important, but guilt and friendship is difficult to handle all the same. They would walk around rest of their life getting memories that they had to put him down.
Cody didn’t like puppies or children in his face, and most of this family’s friends had children. It would always be nervousness and unease, worrying if Cody would bite again.
They made an appointment to euthanize their buddy. But the veterinarian on base told them to call me. Every day I get many e-mails, and many of them are “if you don’t get my dog we will throw him into a shelter.”
This one was so emotionally strong, not begging…explaining with a frustration, or confusion, or resigned saddness.
I wrote back that I wanted to met Cody. Maybe he could stay at the hospice?
I met the family, and Cody walked right up to me and gave me his nose to nose, not a lick and then he laid down away from me. I could sense his kindness, and how much they loved him.
They told me that “grandma” in Hawaii could take him, they only had to wait for his passport, that would probably be ready in the middle of November.
I thought it was brilliant! He would stay with us at the hospice and then we would ship him to Hawaii. Although about 10 years old, he was the picture of good health and could have many good years left.
The family came and droped him off, we were all smiling over how Cody was the only one who got his own room on the second floor, with a bed and a view out to the lake and mountains in the distant background. The other oldies couldn’t make it up the stairs.
Cody had a huge stuffed dinosauer that he carried or slept with. He got his mom’s pillow on the bed so he could still smell her sent. “Mom” felt so bad, she cried even if she knew he was safe now. She felt like she had deserted him.
We kept e-mail contact and they came and visited Cody once in a while, and he was so happy to see them. They played catch and cuddled in the couch. Always, they sent a thank you note to me afterward.
One morning at 0500 Cody came down as always and we greeted each other, then he went out and made his buisness. I was standing making the food when I suddenly felt something wasn’t correct, Cody was not standing behind me drooling for his breakfast. I called. No answer.
I ran up to his room and outside I found him laying having a strong seizure, it was the most difficult thing I ever seen. His whole body was in such a cramp. Next to him laid Angel, our 17 year old blind male had walked up all the stairs to lay down next to him. I sat with Cody, trying to comfort him and figure out what to do. Behind my legs laid my own German Shepard, Zara, supporting me.
It was now 0600 and I called our veterinarian’s home and woke him up explaining what was going on. I knew I needed to do something. Valium! I ran downstairs, made a shot, back up and gave it to him.
I carried him down to my SUV and drove like a maniac to the Emergency animal hospital that pulled me into a room right away.
He stayed there for 24 hours and his blood test was great, healthy. Poison or tumor? We searched the hospice for any trace of a poison that he might have gotten into. Nothing.
They couldn’t medicate him since they didn’t know what it was, I took him back to the hospice, with the instruction to come back if he got a new seizure.
His family was there visiting him, of course with the painful question, “What had happened?”
He came back to the hospice and was ok for a couple of days, but I could sense something was wrong. I noticed that when I called to him, he looked the other way. I took him to our veterinarian for tests, a new blood test and by Dr Fransesco who is a brain specialist ( forgive me, I know he has a fancier name than that).
He made some tests with his legs that showed there was something neurologically wrong, but what? Whatever it was, was happening so fast to worsen his capacity as a dog.
The x-rays, MRI and CAT scans with specialist were up in Rome, three hours away, but an appointment was made. The family would drive the next day.
The night before Cody started to become sick again. I gave him valium like I’d been advised, but he stopped eating. During the night he had several small seizures but was able to sleep in between them. But when the morning came, he started to be worse. Kate his wonderful mom, came driving and we put Cody gentlely in the car on his blancket with his beloved dinosaur next to him. Off they drove at a high speed, up to the specialists in Roma.
Hours later I received the news, “‘Cody didn’t make it. He had a big tumor in his brain. Thank you for everything you have done for Cody and us.”
This was last Friday, and still I don’t go up to the room he slept in. I miss Cody so much. We volunteers joked that Cody was such a good guy, loving and funny making the hospice to feel lively, like a home. We all felt Cody was special.
So interesting in life how a short relationship can tattoo your heart with such strong feeling. I can never image the pain his mom must be going through right now.
I try to comfort myself with the thought that “whomever” planned this did it so we could get an answer. If Cody would have been put to sleep after he bit their daughter, maybe maybe his owner would feel guilty frequently through life for putting their best friend down. Now, with the tumor they get to feel closure and show the world that Cody wasn’t a dangerous dog, something else triggered his behavior in the end. Something his gentle nature couldn’t overcome.
At the hospice we have a puppy, “Gracey Lynn,” who really was hanging in Cody’s face. He never ever did anything to her, I was amazed. I even told him “Cody you can tell her ‘no'” but he never would, not even a little warning snarl. My children were with me, other children came and visited. I told them what I knew about Cody and told them to let him be…and they did….and so did he. He really was such a great dog.
Farewell, Cody. We hope you and your family will be reunited one day, across the rainbow bridge, where you can run and play again, forever.