His name was Dakota, but we always called him Cody.  Because I’d adopted him from a Jersey shelter, his past remained shrouded in mystery.  We knew the people who dumped him had gotten him at the Philadelphia SPCA, so he’d already been abandoned twice in his young life.  I use a harsh word—dumped—to describe their action because they had not done right by Cody.  They’d kept him chained up in their yard 24-7 by their own admission, and then took him to the shelter because they “could not control him.”   He was fifteen pounds underweight and suffering from Lyme Disease and chronic diarrhea, but neglect and loss had not soured his sweet nature.  Because of his size and breed, the shelter offered him to the local police department.  He flunked their test, though; they wanted their dogs to have more of an “edge.”   As soon as I heard that, I knew he was the dog for us. 

      My dad was living with me then, and when we drove to the shelter to get him, he jumped into my car as if he’d been waiting for us to take him home.   “Home” was a house with a large, fenced-in back yard and two other dogs, Caitlin, my elderly poodle, and Randy, who I called my G.K. dog, for God Knows what her ancestry was.  She was a neighbor’s dog with a sad history of abuse and neglect that I’d taken in on a “temporary” basis that would last for twelve and a half years.   Cody always liked the ladies, even though he had to settle for platonic friendships, and seemed pleased to have two female roommates.   He had lunch, explored the house and yard, and soon afterward, we heard an odd noise coming from the living room.  We discovered Cody rolling around on his back, waving his big feet in the air, and moaning like a water buffalo in rut.  We would soon learn that this was how he expressed happiness.  I know I may be ascribing human emotions to a dog, but I’ve always been convinced he suddenly realized that this home was going to be different, that he’d be welcome in the house instead of being banished to the back yard, that he’d have other dogs to play with, and enough to eat at long last, and he was overcome with joy at this remarkable turn in his fortunes. He did something else that night that I’ve never forgotten.  I’d given him the choice of sleeping upstairs with me or downstairs on the bed which my Norwegian elkhound had once used, and he’d chosen to stay downstairs.  But I awoke in the middle of the night with the sensation that I was being watched.  I opened my eyes to find Cody standing by the bed, looking down at me.  He reached out then, very gently nuzzled my cheek, and then turned and padded back downstairs to sleep.

     I did not fall totally under his spell, though, for another two weeks, not until the day we discovered he could open doors; we would later learn that he could turn the latch on the back door with his nose or hit it at the bottom so it would pop open and he would be kind enough to teach the other dogs his new skill.   But on this day, my nephew had come over to show us his puppy.  My dad and I walked out to his car to say goodbye.  Suddenly the storm door swung open and Cody and Randy burst out, racing for the woods across the street.  I should mention here that Randy was an escape artist par excellence; I’d once caught her climbing into a tree to stage a jail break.  Fortunately she was never gone long—it was the challenge that seemed to motivate her—and because she looked like a Disney dog, I didn’t worry about her frightening anyone.  Cody was another story.  German shepherds are very beautiful dogs, but they do not look warm and cuddly, especially one as big as Cody.  And so when they came flying past us, I was horrified, worrying how people might react to a huge shepherd running loose and not sure if he’d be able to find his way home like Randy could.  Just as they disappeared into the woods, I called them.  Randy, of course, ignored me and continued on her great adventure, but Cody put on the brakes, practically leaving skid marks in the grass, and then headed right back to me.   Visions of Casablanca flashed through my mind, Bogie and Claude Rains walking off into the fog together, saying “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

     When I’ve told people about Cody’s sad past, they’ve often talked about how “lucky” he was, and that is true.   But I was lucky, too, for he came into my life at a very difficult time.  My dad lived with me for the last six years of his life when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, surely the cruelest of all ailments; it broke my heart a dozen times a day to see this wonderful man slowly fading away.  Cody proved to be a blessing for us both.  My dad adored him, and he gave me comfort when I most needed it.   I honestly am not sure I could have gotten through some of those dark, despairing moments if not for Cody.

         Not that he was a candidate for canine sainthood; there was no halo hovering over those oversized ears.  Cody could counter-surf with the best of them and was known to root in the trash from time to time.  I remember coming into the living room one day to find my dad napping in his recliner, with a tray on his lap, and Cody standing beside him, with his nose in my dad’s soup bowl, slurping for all he was worth.  He had the grace to look sheepish at being caught out, and yes, I know I am anthropomorphizing  him, but so what?  He was always very gentle with my dad, but he also was sharp enough to know he could get away with more with my dad, too, for it amused him when Cody would surreptitiously snatch a French fry from his plate.   Cody gave my dad a lot of pleasure during his last years, and I would love him dearly for that alone.  

         The dog rejected for police work turned out to be very protective of “his” people.  I’d have backed him against the Hell’s Angels.  He hated to get wet, would never go into the backyard pool…except once.  My nephew and his girlfriend were fooling around and dove to the bottom.  When they didn’t come up, Cody became very agitated, circling the pool and barking wildly and finally plunging into the water.  Of course he then panicked and my nephew had to “save” him and help shove him back onto dry land, but we were very impressed by his gallant gesture.  I’ve never felt so safe as when I had him by my side.  But he was very well behaved out in the world, both with people and other dogs.  Randy had delusions of grandeur, yearning to be the alpha dog of the Penman pack.  She would deliberately step in front of him as they started outside; he’d merely give the canine equivalent of a shrug.  About once a year, she’d lapse into temporary insanity and force a fight with this dog who was twice her size.  It would always end the same way.  I’d hear an ungodly racket, come running to find Cody holding Randy immobilized by the loose skin at her neck, keeping her from biting him while the drama queen shrieked as if she were being murdered.  As soon as I arrived on the scene, he would release her, confident that I would keep her from launching another kamikaze attack.  She never realized how lucky she was.  I did.  He was so mellow and laid-back that I called him my surfer-dude dog.

         There is no happy ending to this story, though.  Last year he developed severe arthritis in his spine and it weakened his hind legs so that he began to have difficulty walking.  Thanks to my vet’s chiropractic and laser treatments and pain medication, we were able to give him some more good months.   He waged a gallant battle that he was bound to lose, and this past Tuesday came the day I’d been most dreading.  He’d suffered a relapse and this time did not respond to the vet’s treatments, not even an emergency laser treatment on Saturday in the midst of that god-awful Nor’easter.   His vet and I agreed that it was time, for he was too big to use one of those carts, as tall as a Great Dane and weighing over one hundred pounds, most of it pure heart.   I’d always hoped that he would let me know when it was time, and bless him, he did.  The prednisone had given him a ravenous appetite, like a shark in a feeding frenzy, but on Tuesday, he stopped eating.    His passing was peaceful; he went quietly to sleep.   He was about eleven years old, and I’d had him for nine of those years, not nearly long enough.  

          His name was Cody.  He loved to walk in the woods, to race the wind, to have his ears rubbed.  He loved beef jerky and liver and ice cream.   And me.


March 20. 2010



93 Responses to “CODY”

  1. Paul Dalen Says:

    Thanks, Sharon. Buddy agrees.

  2. Jeremy Says:

    So sorry, Sharon. It’s amazing how much pets can become a part of our families, but they truly are. Your tribute to Cody here is beautiful. You and he were both lucky to have each other.

  3. Kurt Laidlaw Says:

    Thanks for sharing Cody with us. Anybody who has ever loved a dog will connect with him. It is a beautiful story, and it isn’t really a sad ending, just the realities of life. If only we could all have a positive impact on those we meet like Cody had on you.

  4. Sue Says:

    You have my deepest sympathy on the passing of your beloved Cody. I know of all the love and joy you had from him. Somehow we survive to go on to give our love and devotion to another deserving dog even if we never forget the ones we have lost. How lucky we are to be able to do this. God Bless you and your family and I know Cody is sitting on the front porch with God in Heaven.

  5. john mcconnell Says:

    So many emotions came to the surface while reading your post. My most favorite dog ever got off her leash and was hit by a car in front of me near the OSU campus when I was an undergrad. I’ll never forget that evening.

    This post was beautifully written. The last couple of lines are killers. I totally feel your pain.

  6. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    A beautiful tribute to a very special dog, Sharon. Thank you so much for his story. I offer you my heartfelt condolences.

  7. Brenna Says:


    When we lost our beloved Scotties, the vet gave us a beautiful plaque with a rainbow in the background. On the plaque is this beautiful story which I will summarize. It says that dogs walk besides us, bringing new life and beauty to our lives. However, when their time with us is over, they cross over the other side of a beautiful rainbow and await us to continue to their journey. So, everytime you see a rainbow, know that Cody is on the other side, playing and having fun, just waiting for you to continue your journey together.

    My heart aches for you, but I know Rollie, Foxy, and Maggie are all welcoming Cody with lots of kisses and romps!

  8. Linda Zimmerman Says:

    Sharon, you’ll probably get tons of emails about your tribute to Cody…hope my little story will give you some comfort.

    I lost my Bettie and Isis within 2 months of each other a couple of years ago. Isis was the sneakiest rhodesian ridgeback on earth, was diabetic the last 7 years of her life (she lived to be 13-1/2) and couldn’t walk for the last 9 months of her life. I walked her like a wheelbarrow 3x a day to go out…she never seemed to mind. She also had acupuncture and went for swimming therapy to help her legs, but all in all, nothing helped and I had to put her to sleep after a terrible bout of pancreatis. In the last year of Isis’s life, I got a Siamese mix kitten, LilyRose, who thought Isis was her mother/best friend. This kitty would lay in the ktichen with Isis all day (when she wasn’t doing silly kitty things) and bounce all over Isis’s tall and paws. Isis must have thought she was a horsefly that she could swat away… and then I’d sneak a look and they’d both be grooming each other. I swear, LilyRose was related to that dog since her personality is so similar, as well as being a foodie cat.

    Bettie was my rescue rottweiler who was the biggest sissy dog ever. I have no idea what her life was before I got her, but she lived with me 13 years, making her at least 14… I also had to put her to sleep…2 months after Isis. I adopted her from a rottweiler rescue who had found her running in the streets, bone thin with sharp ribs sticking out and scared of men. She was a gentle, sweet dog, with lips like velvet and small for a rotty (80 pounds maybe)…and also very sneaky. She once stole a raw 20 pound turkey from the kitchen sink when my back was turned. My boyfriend at the time found her outside having a feast. He said when she saw him, she jumped straight up in the air like a cartoon dog. I cooked the turkey anyway.

    I have so many silly and wonderful memories of these dogs. They once had a party with a carton of unopened jarred turkey babyfood, that I bought for Isis. She was always getting into the worst trouble by trying to eat herself to death and getting pancreatis. I had to tie up doors and cabinets. This time, she and Bettie knocked a sealed case of baby food off the kitchen counter and managed to have a party. I don’t know how they opened those jars, but every one of them was licked clean and nothing was broken. Bette’s were all piled up in her bed, so I guess as she got a jar, she took it to quietly work on in private. Isis had no discrimination. Her empty jars were everywhere in the house! We had been gone an hour..and this was only the day after I had gotten Isis home from intensive care, since she had made herself sick by stealing a stick of butter off the kitchen counter.

    I now have both their ashes in containers wrapped in velvet bags that sit on my fireplace mantle with their tags inside and their pictures next to the bags. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t have a small conversation with both girls. I still cry for them sometimes, but with a different pain than the original grief. They both went through good and bad times with me, including an icky divorce and they were my best friends and family with 4 legs. I swear, if I could have unzipped those furry suits, the most soulful persons would have emerged.

    P.S. Am a big fan.

  9. Miss Moppet Says:

    Sharon, I’m so sorry for your loss - but what a lovely tribute. I’m so glad you were able to give Cody such a happy home.

  10. Koby Says:

    My heartfelt condolences for your loss, Sharon. I’ve never had a pet, nor do I particularly like dogs, but your words made me feel as if I’ve been missing out on something so nice and touching.

  11. Koby Says:

    Oh, I forgot: Today, Cecily of York, Edward IV and Elizabeth’s daughter was born.

  12. Jenny Says:

    Beautiful tribute, Sharon.


  13. Kathleen (CelticLady) Says:

    Sharon, so sorry for your loss. I totally understand how you feel as we had to send our wonderful pet to cat heaven 3 weeks ago. She was 18 years old and we knew that the time was near and so did she, but it was hard neverless and we had to make the decision to put her to sleep…it is getting easier but it will hurt for a long time. We had to adopt another cat from the local shelter, Misty is great, she is about 5 years old and she fills a void in my heart. I am definitely an advocate for adopting from a shelter, especially the older animals, evryone wants a cute little kitten or puppy that they overlook the great animals that are older and also need a home. Sounds like your Cody had a great life with your family….

  14. Jel Says:

    You put it so well Sharon, I am sure there are more stories you could tell. What a lovely loving dog, and I am sure he will be remembered for a long time.

  15. Lucy Says:

    So many memories…I’m sorry for your loss, Sharon. You both gave eachother a wonderful life. Our pets are such a huge part of our life- they’re family.

  16. Mary Gardner Says:

    So very sorry Sharon. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  17. Anne Gilbert Says:

    It is always hard to lose a beloved nonhuman member of your family. I feel very sad for your loss. But perhaps some day you might find another. It won’t happen tomorrow. Or maybe, if you’re open enough(I guess you have “always” had dogs), you might find a kitty somewhere. Cats don’t take up so much space, and they will sit on your lap and adore you(or get on your computer and adore you). I’m not telling you to think about a cat, just suggesting it. You never know. . . .in the meanwhile, there’s always hope. And I am sure you will never forget Cody, no matter what the future holds.
    Anne G

  18. Gabriela A Says:

    Thanks Sharon. That was great. I just lost my dog too. She had been with us for almost 15 years. I grew up with her and it’s been tough now that she’s gone. I’m sad for your loss, but you really captured what a dog can mean for a family and how great their loss is felt.

  19. Mike Jaqua Says:

    The passing of a beloved dog. Such a hard thing. I will never forget, though it was 27 years ago, the passing of my childhood companion. Mary was with me from the time I was 5 until just before I left for university at age 21.

    I am ever so grateful for the lessons of love and loyalty Mary gave me. May the love and loyalty Cody gave you live on and on.

  20. Ken Says:

    Beautiful tribute, Sharon. My thoughts are with you.

  21. Glenne G Says:

    I held my 20 year old cat while she left us between one breath and another which never came.
    I was weeping then and I am weeping now.
    My senior cat grew up with a shepherd bitch who taught him to wrestle. He sends his regards to someone else who took on a shepherd and was a better creature for it.
    My junior cat would just weep with us if she knew the story. She is curled up on the spare bed beside the ‘puter with me.
    Best love
    Glenne from Oz.

  22. Misfit Says:

    Sharon, what a lovely and loving tribute to Cody. Loosing a beloved pet is never easy, and even harder with a long-term disease. My thoughts and prayers go with you and your family - and Cody too.

  23. Kathryn Gibson Says:

    After university my daughter Alex went to work in Tuscany, Italy. There she met Charlie, a beautiful, warm golden dog of unknown pedigree. Charlie was a stray and had his leg almost bitten off by another dog.
    Alex paid for the vet to have his leg pinned back on. The vets fees were enormous. But…. Alex and Charlie were inseperable. Charlie could open doors, and was just so full of fun.
    When Alex came home again, Charlie came with her.
    Many of Sharon’s readers have photographs of themselves here on the doorstep - with Charlie posing in the background.
    He died in 2008 and is buried at Garth Celyn under the oak tree. We miss him….. ….and there is a big void that is hard to explain.
    A big hug Sharon. xx

  24. Robin Maxwell Says:

    It’s hard to type with so many tears in my eyes. Beautiful, funny stories of Cody and his friends bring back memories of our beloved family — a parrot, a cockatoo, and a Doberman — all with us for a lifetime, all lost within the last couple of years. There really are no words of condolence that actually help. Only time does that. But my heart is with you.

    Many hugs,

  25. Cate Cushing Says:

    I’m sorry Sharon. =(

  26. Dave Says:


    I’m sorry for your loss.

  27. Colleen Says:

    It is so hard to say goodbye to our pets, they hold a piece of our hearts. Thank you for sharing about Cody, I hope the stories and memories help you through this difficult time.

  28. Priya Says:

    Dear Sharon,

    I grew up with a German shepherd called Lovely. They hear everything, understand everything, answer when you ask a question and love you with their whole hearts. I am so very very sorry.

  29. cindy ash Says:

    Sharon, my sympathies. We have had several cats over the years, and each one has been like a member of our family. When they go, they took a piece of our heart with them.

    I do have to share something that made me smile. When we lost one of our cats, it was after a windstorm brought down a large tree that he loved to climb. Our friends little boy told us that Baila was now climbing his tree. I had to smile through my tears, and gave him a hug.

  30. Lindsey C. Says:

    My heartfelt condolences for your pup Cody. I cannot imagine but I feel for you nonetheless. I hope your memories of his good nature keep you going through this trying time.

  31. james watson Says:

    You Did good with your dog Sharon, Now go get another one When your ready, Theres Another Beauty! Just Waiting, Its Spring-time,….By Early Summer You;ll Have Another Love. I know How You feel My Mum Died Last week?……Its Very Devastating But Through All The Tears -Life!!…I;m very sad For your Loss.

  32. Britta B. Says:

    sharon, sounds like you gave cody a greyt life; i’ve gone through this twice and am always amazed that it’s true: they DO let you know when it’s time to say goodbye. i know you’ll cherish these memories for a long time to come. Peace, bb

  33. Beth DuBois Says:

    I feel your loss. I read you brief history of Cody as it really isn’t a story it is life. I sit here sobbing as I am looking at my German shepherd “Keady Armagh” and dread the same outcome you had. My girl is about 7 and recently she started greying on her muzzle and I started having the vision of life without her..She too opens doors but doesn’t shut them behind her! I can’t take her very far in my truck as she gets carsick but she brings in the horses with me and is always near me. She knows when I am going to bed or leaving the house and she stays home. They are such amazing dogs.. My heart goes out to you and I will include Cody in my prayers. God bless you for taking Cody in.

  34. Koby Says:

    And today, Margeruite of Anjou was born

  35. Matt Says:

    So terribly sorry to hear about Cody, Sharon. My wife is a veterinarian (and also a fan of yours), and she always tells people it is indeed a blessing when pets can let us know it is time, and to end their suffering is a blessing we can give them in return.

  36. Sandy Says:

    Sharon, my deepest sympathies on your loss. Cody was clearly a very special dog. And a very lucky one to have had your love and care.

  37. Judie Says:

    We adopted a dog about a year ago who was a shepherd/chow mix, Cooper by name. A beautiful dog we grew quickly to care deeply about. Unfortunately he bit my then 7 yr old son in the face 4 weeks later requiring almost 30 stitches. We returned him to the shelter who were able to adopt him out to a home with no young children.

    Happy ending though, we recently adopted another dog, this time a smaller mixed breed, Smokey by name. We’ve had him almost 4 months and we couldn’t imagine life without him. He’s a part of the family and we all love him for his quirks and presence in our lives.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Cody and you were lucky to benefit each other’s lives for so long.

  38. Gayle Says:

    Dear Sharon,
    That was a beautiful eulogy for Cody. When I have been asked if dogs will be with us in Heaven, I reply that I cannot believe Heavenly Father would send us such wonderful companions only to withhold them from us when we die. I was going to write a book “Lucy Goes to Heaven” when my beautiful red min-pin Lucy died after being hit by a truck while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. She loved me–like Cody not a swimmer, but when I was standing in the lake and I called her she swam to me! The grandkids were just amazed because they knew how she hated to swim! Now I have Sophi-Marie and she has almost completely filled the hole left in my heart from losing Lucy. She’s not Lucy, but she is her own dog with her own personality And she keeps me busy and she is very cute and smart! So I am wishing you all the best and hope that you will have another great experience with another pet.

  39. Christopher Gortner Says:

    My deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved and very gallant Cody. As a devoted pet owner myself, with a dog whom I cannot imagine life without, I understand all too well the tremendous sorrow and huge absence his departure has left, as well as all the wonderful memories and the many years of joy and laughter. As a friend once said to me on the day I had to put my last dog ChaCha to rest, “Now you can never say you haven’t loved something more than you love yourself.”

    I would prefer to think, when you have loved a dog and been loved by that dog in return, you can never say you have not been loved unconditionally.

    I send you all my best wishes and hugs during this difficult time. I like to think that when our time comes, they will be there, waiting for us, as they always did in life.

  40. Blair Hodgkinson Says:

    My sincerest sympathy and condolences for the loss of Cody.

  41. Bella Says:

    What a beautiful blog in memory of the gallant canine- Cody. I’m so happy to hear that he was a happy dog and that he brought you many comforting and fun moments.

    May all those beautiful memories fill you with comfort with time. Thanks for sharing with us, Sharon.


  42. Koby Says:

    And if I am not mistaken, today Richard I was wounded by a crossbow bolt which eventually lead to his death.

  43. Nan hawthorne Says:

    I hope you see from all these comments that Cody’s love for you was shared by all who love you and your books. You kn ow I know what you went through, our cat Lemirux having been a dear friend and family member to whom we also had to say goodbye. If only humans could love us a unconditionally as our animal friends do.

    My heart aches for your loss. You did the right thing for Cody. Now remember him at his happiest.

    Nan Hawthorne

  44. Holly Hardy Says:

    Thank you for sharing your love story with us. I still miss our dog, also Cody, a german shepherd/coyote mix. He was so smart, and so much of what you said brought back memories of similiar things that Cody did. We had him for 10 years, and lost him for exactly the same reason that you lost your Cody. You, and your beloved Cody, have been so blessed, thank you once again for taking the time to give such a priceless gift to us.

  45. Mary Lou Dudley Says:

    Your story is lovely. It so expresses the love we feel for our dogs and how they are always with us even after they have gone across the rainbow bridge.

  46. Koby Says:

    Today, Mary of Burgundy, Charles the Bold’s daughter and Margaret’s of York step-daughter died.

  47. Trish Says:

    Sharon, thanks for sharing Cody’s story. What an eloquent, heartfelt tribute. Our Tessa had a similar background but brought us many years of joy after we rescued her… warmed my heart, made me smile to think maybe they’re both romping around together.

  48. Koby Says:

    And today, the Battle of Towton took place.

  49. Koby Says:

    Oh, and in the frantic pace of preparing and cleaning I completely forgot to wish everybody a Happy Passover.

  50. Maritza Says:

    My deepest condolences, Sharon.
    I had to put my beloved Shepherd/Chow mix, Pepper, to sleep after she suffered a massive stroke (she was 14 years old). She was the most wonderful, loyal, loving dog in the world. Today, I am blessed with Rosie, an Australian Cattle Dog who is sweetness itself. We rescued both dogs from abandonment and both have brought steadfast love and devotion to our family.
    I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this fable, from an unknown author, but I think it sums up well what dogs have meant to the human race:

    God Summoned A Beast (A Fable)
    Author unknown

    God summoned the beast from the field and He said
    “Behold, man is created in my image. Therefore adore him.
    You shall protect him in the wilderness,
    shepherd his flocks, watch over his children,
    accompany him wherever he may go…
    even into civilization.
    You shall be his companion, his ally, his slave.”

    “To do these things,” God said, “I endow you with the
    instincts uncommon to other beasts:
    Faithfulness, Devotion and Understanding
    surpassing those of man himself.
    Lest it impair your courage,
    you shall never foresee your death.
    Lest it impair your loyalty,
    you shall be blind to the faults of man.
    Lest it impair your understanding,
    you are denied the power of words.
    Speak to your master only with your mind
    and through your honest eyes.”

    “Walk by his side; sleep in his doorway;
    ward off his enemies; carry his burden;
    share his afflictions; love and comfort him.
    And in return for this,
    Man will fulfill your needs and wants…
    which shall be only food, shelter and affection.”

    “So be silent and be a friend to man.
    Guide him through the perils along the way
    to this land I have promised him.
    This shall be your destiny and your immortality.”

    So spoke the Lord.
    And the dog heard, and was content.

  51. Nikki Reppert Says:

    hi, Sharon…your tribute to Cody was beautiful….I have buried four dogs and over 20 cats…so my heart aches for you. Someone one said dogs come into our lives to teach us about love…when they pass on, they teach us about loss…..

  52. Theresa Says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Cody sounds like a wonderful dog.

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  54. Eleanor Says:

    Sharon, Cody obviously knew he was loved, and you gave him the greatest gifts any human can give a dog — a home and a pack of his own, and a peaceful death. There are a lot of dogs out there who never get this. You did a great good thing by giving him a home and a painless end. If there really is a rainbow bridge, he’s bound to be there waiting for you.

    A lot of police departments look at rescued GSDs and Belgian shepherds (especially Malinois) without realizing that many were abused or neglected to the point that their ability to work seriously is not what it could have been. But shepherd breeds, especially rescues, make great companion animals, for they seem to know that they have been granted a miracle. Two of the Belgian varieties’ rescue websites have mottoes on that theme. The Tervuren site has the legend “Love Recycled” and the Sheepdog/Groenendael site has “Rescue Love Rehome Forever”.

    I’ve been around herding dogs most of my life. I grew up with collies, and my mother in her later years had Shelties. I’ve recently latched onto Belgians and have been simply gobsmacked by their devotion and brilliance. Herding breeds — especially the ones that straddle herding and working breeds, like GSDs and Belgians — are simply amazing animals, capable of deep, ferocious devotion to their people and fellow companion animals. I am not surprised Cody dove into the pool to “rescue” your family, and his behavior towards the other canine members of the pack is typical as well of herding dog protectiveness.

    I think you might appreciate this poem, even if it makes you weep a bit. There is a kind of comfort in it. I did not write it, but I’ve seen it circulate in so many places and forms, that I think it must be considered creative commons. It’s called “The Rainbow Bridge”:

    “Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”

    – Author unknown

  55. April Says:

    I’ve read this multiple times and it makes me cry each time. I’m so sorry, Sharon. Cody sounds like such a prince, and that he was a rescue… well, it’s even more special, for you each saved the other. Growing up, we took in a dog abandoned in the country, and it’s so true how dogs adopt us in turn. She’s been gone for several years; I still miss her and I’m still grateful she found us.

    Run pain-free, Cody….

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  57. Nancy Says:

    I had a Rottweiler with the same problems as Cody. Her name was Rowte. She was an unwanted 2nd dog when I sent my husband to check if she was the dog to replace our first Rotti who had passed away from kidney failure. From the time my husband laid eyes on Rowte it was love. She would let me in once in awhile but she was his dog. We had Rowte for 9 of her 11 years (11 is over the average life span for this type of dog, and she was a big 125 pound dog). I had asked a man in San Francisco if I could purchase a converted dog cart for her and was about to have it made when she, like Cody, decided it was time. I held her head and told her to go to sleep everything would be alright now and watched her pass away with the help of our vet. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. But now I went to the extreme and rescued a little female Chihuahua from a friend’s daughter who didn’t want the dog. She is now a little over weight, never in a crate and spoiled rotten. She is my pal and my constant companion.
    Thanks for the story of Cody.

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