Cody was the smartest dog I have ever lived in the same home with. He was a golden retriever obtained for my son when he was five, but in truth it was me the dog responded to most. While picking a puppy out of the litter when they were just 3 weeks old as I knelt down he was the one who came bounding over to me as if to say “what’s up?” He was being named after Buffalo Bill Cody who is buried along side Interstate 70 as you head up into the Colorado Mountains from Denver.
Cody was very smart and could do so many tricks I can not remember them all. With good accuracy he could dig out of his toys which ever one you told him to go get. While he was sitting a Milkbone could be placed on his nose and he would not eat it until you told him he could (or when you looked away). He knew as long as there was eye contact he was to wait to have the treat. On a dare from a friend I taught Cody to fall over playing dead like the orangutan did in an old Clint Eastwood movie called “Any Which Way But Loose”. All I had to do was tell him to sit, point my fist and index finder at him like a gun, say “bang” and over he’d fall. That was his most impressive trick. Like people Cody also had his unique imperfections. For example he was a rare golden retriever who was a terrible swimmer did not like the water.
Cody was my son’s second dog. His first dog was also a golden retriever, a female who had health problems that took her life before she was fully grown (damn puppy mills!).
The dog I lived the longest with was an Australian Silky Terrier named “Reddy”. She came to live with me in 1975 when she weighted two pounds and could stand on the palm of my hand. She lived almost 15 years! Reddy’s name came from the breeder’s three year old son whose deductive reasoning told him if the puppy with a pink collar was named “Pinky” then the one with the red collar was “Reddy”. That was so unique I did not want to change it. Reddy was very smart, but also a picky, prissy and moody bitch! To her the outdoors was just the bathroom and she had no interest in being there for any other reason. Reddy was well traveled and flew on airplanes under the seat well over a dozen times. Reddy disliked children (one hurt her accidentally when she was a couple of years old) and she hid under the couch or bed when kids were around. She tolerated my son and would play with him at times and at others would ignore him which is why he was given the golden’s.
I think further back and there was Duchess, the mixed German Sheppard and Norwegian Elkhound who was always with me. She even got to go to work with me every day which worked fine until I moved to a city where she could not. That drove her crazy and she tore up my apartment to offset her loneliness and sense of abandonment (or was it to show how upset at me she was1). Duchess was a little over a year old when I donated her to a 16 year old blind girl who went to leader dog school with the dog. I got photos of the two of them when they graduated and for a couple of Christmas’s afterwards before we lost touch. I cried when the girl and her family drove away with my dog, but was very proud of what Duchess went on to achieve. I know she had a good life and was deeply loved by her blind master. All Duchess ever wanted was to be close to one she cared about. I am glad she got that.
The first dog I remember living with us was when I was around 4 or 5 years old. Her name was Suzie and she was a stray puppy that had taken up at a house my family moved into. She was an outside dog and we fed her back to health. About the time she was getting really comfortable with us she came down with rabies and had to be shot by a policeman (I remember hearing the gunshot…talk about a traumatic time for a kid!).
There were always dogs around. Lulu was a mixed German Sheppard who guarded my stepfather’s store. I realize now she spent most of her entire life inside a fence and I feel a bad about that. There was the first “Duchess”, a Belgian Sheppard that as an adult came to live with us. She got hit by a car and killed. “Easy” was my stepbrother’s Doberman Pincher who was our roommate for a few years. He was a cool dog who was very affectionate and protective, but did not like strangers. Easy made me uncomfortable how he was toward others more than once. I know he meant well though.
There were even the two dogs that came into my life as puppies when I was around 10. One was my brothers and the other was mine. Sadly before they were fully grown they took up the fatal habit of killing repeatedly digging out of their pen and killing chickens just for fun. Once a dog has a taste for that activity, they can not be broken of the habit. My stepfather took them into the woods and killed both dogs which is what was done back then in farm country with “chicken killers”. Today that seems grotesque.
Most recently there was a beautifulLabradorretriever than lived came to live with my ex-wife and me. Indigo was so black she appeared to have a deep navy blue tinge to her coat which is why her name fit so well. Most of all “Indy” is a happy dog who got spoiled rotten by her adopting mama and papa. In the divorce my ‘ex’ got “full custody” of the dog and I have not seen Indigo now in a long while. She’s turned five a few months ago. I miss her specifically and in general miss having a dog. I hope to have another dog before too long in the time ahead.
This morning I am thankful for all the four legged friends I have shared my life with. They were all good friends who where there willingly in good and bad times. I am very grateful for the caring friendship I shared with each of them.
When I grow up I want to be the person my dog thinks I am. Anonymous