This was written January 6, 2009

Cody, our beloved 13 year-old golden retriever, who was solely responsible for our desire to be involved with Golden Retriever Rescue, went to the rainbow bridge last night. Truly, there are no words that fit how we feel today.

Cody typified the golden retriever breed with his gentle nature and awesome personality. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He loved his home and his life, and it showed. No matter what your mood, he was always there with a lick, a smile, and a wagging tail. And we were there for him throughout his life from the day we brought him home at eight weeks old to the moment he passed away at the ripe old age of 13 years, 5 weeks, and 1 day.

Cody survived more than a half dozen surgeries to remove cancerous tumors, one the size of a softball, and three months of chemotherapy in an attempt to prevent the need for future surgeries. After his chemotherapy, the doctors at Veterinary Specialty Services told us that Cody had a 55% chance of living 3 more years. He lived six!

Three years ago we started to notice that he struggled to stand up. His back legs would shake and wobble and finally he’d manage to get up. Each month that went by it would be a little harder, but he never let it stop him. We put him on Etogesic first and then later, Rimadyl, to help with the problem.

By the end of the summer 2008, his eyesight was all but gone; his hearing was all but gone; his weight which we struggled to keep below 95lbs, which ballooned to 117lbs during his chemotherapy, was barely staying above 80lbs. He was very frail, but he loved his life, and it showed. He loved the idea of going for a walk more than the actual walk, but since he couldn’t go as far as the younger dogs, he would walk alone with one or both of us. He loved those times. He never really went for a walk, more of a sniff.

In any case, we knew the end was near. We didn’t expect Cody to make it to Christmas. He did. He even made New Year’s.

On Friday, January 2nd, Cody collapsed at the back door as he trotted toward the door to go out. He didn’t get up right away; something that was totally out of character for Cody. After a dozen minutes he struggled to his feet, ate his dinner, went out and wandered around the yard for a while, came back in and sat on the sofa next to us for a bit. But right after he got off the sofa, he collapsed again. And except for a trip outside 5 hours later, he didn’t move the rest of the night. That signaled the beginning of the end. We increased his Tramadol to maximum dosage, some $5 per day in drugs. I slept on the floor with him Friday night at the bottom of the stairs. By Saturday morning he was his usual self. He wandered up the street by my side, from tree to tree, sniffing everything as he went. When he stumbled, I turned him around, but as he got to the house, he ran past as if to say, I don’t want to go home yet. Once past the house, he wandered down the street past 4 houses before I turned him around again. All day long, and during most of Sunday he romped and played with us and his two golden siblings, but by Sunday evening, his energy was gone. He lay down and slept.

Monday morning came and he didn’t get up. He didn’t want his breakfast. We mixed peanut butter (his favorite food of all time) in with his breakfast. He ate a small handful and then didn’t want anymore. We coaxed him into the yard for his morning routine, but he would walk a few feet and stop and look at the sky and the birds walk a few more feet, and then he wanted to go in. Inside he lay down and didn’t move. By early afternoon he would struggle to his feet with our help find one of his favorite places to lie and then we’d have to help him lie down. He repeated this throughout the afternoon. He visited almost every one of his favorite places in the house. He would stay an hour or so and then with our help, move on.

Then he was done. He could stand no more. I carried him to the truck. We drove through his favorite park and he got up once to look around and then he lay back down. At the vet I carried him from the truck to the exam room and carefully placed him on the floor. Nanette & I petted him and kissed him and I held his head on my lap until he was gone and for a long time afterward.

Cody is already horribly missed. The spirit of our home has gone.

This was written on January 6, 2009.