Cody turns 10 today.
I'm not quite sure what to write. Words don't come easy to me, and I cannot begin to stress to importance of this dog in my life. For someone who has never owned a dog or who has never been effected by a dog, you can never understand, and I can't explain it.
Cody came into my life right after college. In most respects I was happy. I was back home, I was newly married, and finances were decent. I didn't have too many commitments (part-time job, volunteering, etc), but I really wanted a dog. Hans and I lived with Dad at the time (hence the decent financial situation), and he was completely against a dog. So, I proceeded to beg. I researched breeds and breeders, I consistently cleaned the entire house, I did extra work for him, all with the hopes that he'd see this and consent to a dog. Well, I have a pretty awesome dad, because my plan worked. Two weeks before my birthday, Dad told me he'd consent to me getting a dog IF I got a doodle (he thought they were cool). I'd figured that would be the case, so I'd been researching, and there was only 1 breeder in the area who had a dog available before Christmas. Since my birthday is in October, I wasn't willing to wait that long.
I called the breeder immediately and told her I'd be there in 2 days, when both Hans and I could take the day off work. The second I saw Cody, I dropped to my knees so he'd come to me, and I fell in love. He was clearly nervous, but he let me hold him and he snuggled. It wasn't until the next day when, after a few treats and little sleep the night before he crawled into my lap and fell asleep. That started the most amazing relationship.
Cody has completely shaped my life. Since the second I got him, everything I've done has been with him in mind. The ease with which I trained him encouraged me to pursue training as a career. Caring for him and playing with him eased anxiety in a variety of situations. I became more social, more comfortable around others (particularly kids). He helps to keep me educated on health issues because I want to know more about what's going on with him. One of the reasons I started running was to give him more exercise!
Cody has been with me through so much. He's seen me through long days at the kennel. After our first week open, he slept for 36 hours straight! When I was first pregnant with Anna, one of the things that made me wonder if I was pregnant was how he acted around me. He was super-protective and would constantly lay across my mid-section. So, yes, I'm certain he knew I was expecting before I did. He was there for me when Anna was first born. There were a few occasions when I couldn't get Anna to stop crying, so I'd hand her to Hans, take Cody to the bathroom where I could have a moment of uninterrupted silence, and I'd just hold Cody, calming myself down. He was there for me when Mom got sick. He let me cry, he didn't ask for anything when I was too tired or too stressed to walk him, and he accepted her dogs as new and welcome members of the family. When she eventually passed, he came with me as I went hiking, trying to escape my situation, and he stayed in bed with me when I was too grief-stricken to function properly.
Cody has always been my easy dog. Sure, he's not perfect, but he's my easy dog. I've loved every moment I've had with him. He's the best dog for career days at elementary schools because he's friendly, he's fluffy, and he does tricks. He comes with me to shows. He's fun to groom. Saying I love this dog isn't enough. I'm not sure there are words to express all that he's meant in my life.
So, today, Cody is 10 years old. He's past middle age. He's a senior citizen. I know he won't be in my life forever. One of the great tragedies of life is that dogs don't live as long as humans. But he will forever shape my life. My wonderful, beautiful Cody.