New guy in town…
Years before Mike and I were called “Grandma” and “Papa” by our granddaughter, we were known as “Grandma” and “Grandpa” to a special corgi named Cody. Cody joined our family in 2008 as a new addition to Lael and Brian’s household. His big ears, broad smile, short little legs, and unbounding energy gave all of us years of devoted companionship and unbridled entertainment. His winning ways have now made heaven a little brighter, as Cody crossed the Rainbow Bridge a little over a week ago.
Mike and I had taken a somewhat unexpected trip up north earlier this month, staying with Lael and her family. No one ever needs to twist my arm to be in New England in the fall, but this trip was particularly meaningful, as we attended a Celebration of Life gathering for a close relative. A beautiful, nothing-less-than-perfect get together, we moved closer to gaining closure—-saying goodbye to someone whose life was taken far too soon by cancer.
As it turned out, it would be our time to say goodbye to Cody, too.
Cody was originally named “Bear” at the farm where he was born. It was hard to believe that the adorable puppy that Lael and Brian brought to our house had been the biggest of his litter. My earliest memory of Cody was helping him try to navigate the stairs of our house. He would sit on the landing of the stairs that led to the second floor, contemplating how to make it down to the first floor. I would go halfway to him, encouraging him to try just one stair and showing him that I was there to catch him. The look on his face seemed to say, “Okay, Grandma…do you really think I can??” “C’mon, Cody, you can do it,” I’d say to him. And he’d give it a try. He made it every time and then he’d look at me with an, “I did it!! Did you see that? I did it!!” look on his face.
Cody and Snowy—-Establishing the boundaries
Hello….Lael would be mine….
Cody charmed everyone in our household except for our cat, Snowy. Snowy had become part of the family when Lael was six, and the boys were three and one. Snowy became the fourth Roye child—-and while he had loved us all, Lael was special to him. He tolerated being put in several well-chosen but stylishly-questionable outfits by his young sister/owner; he’d announce my presence when, as a teenager, Lael was trying to secure some phone-time privacy; and he would even lay next to her on his back—-paws up—-as Lael tanned while lying on her back on a blanket in the driveway. Twins. After all the two of them had been through, from Snowy’s standpoint, how did she have the audacity to bring this…energetic, downright bubbly creature…into her cat’s domain? So, when Cody popped his head up in between Snowy and his dearly-loved Lael as they sat on the sofa, the cat reaffirmed his long-held status by dealing Cody a swift cuff on the nose. Cody was stunned, to say the least, and maintained a
fear of “healthy respect” for all white cats through his adult years. The relationship between the two of them graduated to being cordial, provided that both held a reasonable distance.
Cody added so much life to our family. Like so many dogs, he loved to go on walks, chase his frisbee, and play tug-of-war. He could do those things for hours. He wanted to be the leader when he went for a walk, but he had an unusual habit of appreciating well-landscaped yards. Whenever we would go by a yard that was particularly pleasing to him—-and the common trait seemed to be that the yards were well manicured—-he would stop, sit down, and admire it. Then he would look up at you as if to say, “Isn’t that yard just beautiful??” He did the same thing with Lael and Brian.
An avid hiker….
Cody also joined us on a couple of family visits to Bar Harbor, ME. He would hike with us on the trails that were rated medium difficulty. When those short legs couldn’t make it up a rock that was taller than he was, he would look at us as if to call, “Help here…” He’d make up time in the more open but still challenging parts of the climb. He loved to hike, and the sheer joy that he would show made him a fun addition to the group.
On one visit, we headed up a trail. The family in front of us thought it would be fun/smart to leave a trail of Goldfish crackers. We could hear the children laughing and saying that the trail would help everybody find their way back.
…Except that they hadn’t counted on Cody, who thought that this nice family was leaving him lots of delicious treats to help him find his way to the top of the mountain. In the end, there was no trail of Goldfish to help the family find its way back to the parking lot, thanks to our enthusiastic climber. I’m guessing they made it back safely, anyway:)
Another time, the family decided to take a particularly strenuous hike. I had hiked the trail before (and was happy to call it a day with that one time:), so Cody and I opted to walk around town. As we walked, we went by the pass to Bar Island—-an island in Frenchman’s Bay that you can walk to at low tide. The trick is to know the tide schedule, though, because visitors can get stranded there when the tide comes in. It’s an easy walk, but for all the years that Mike and I had gone to Bar Harbor, it was one that we hadn’t taken. “C’mon Code,” I said, “we’re going to Bar Island.”
We headed across the natural land bridge. Part way through the walk, we came across a big pile of dead fish. They were pretty smelly and oh so attractive to a curious corgi. We went to check them out when it became clear that Cody thought that they would make a marvelous new body scent. With a little effort, I “convinced” him that it was time to move on—-reluctantly, he said goodbye to his fish and we continued across the land bridge to Bar Island.
The view from the island was gorgeous—-a beautiful view of Bar Harbor from a perspective that we hadn’t often seen. I looked down to see Cody sitting there, staring at the town where we had just walked. Then, it was like being on a walk and coming across a well-maintained yard. He looked up at me as if to say, “Look Grandma, isn’t that just beautiful?” Say what you want, but that was a corgi with good taste:).
Another one of my favorite Cody stories involved Riley, Brian’s family’s Yellow Lab. Riley was a wonderful girl—-a bundle of enthusiasm—but her habit of expressing her excitement by barking sometimes earned her a muzzle. Cody and Riley spent quite a bit of time together, and their relationship ranged from being bickering relatives to being the best of buds.
As you can imagine, Riley hated that muzzle—-and one day—-apparently on a buds day—-she and Cody conspired to do something about it. Riley wanted that thing off, and Cody wasn’t about to have one of his dearest friends in any such contraption. Anyone who has known a corgi knows that those charming, clown-like creatures with the short legs—-have jaws of steel. Cody got a hold of that muzzle and pulled in one direction while Riley pulled in the other, and soon—-the sweet taste of victory. That darn muzzle was a thing of the past. The pride on their faces was clear—-Cody and Riley rule.
Miles—-who invited him??
Life was good for Cody until Miles, the cat, showed up. There will be a special post about Miles, but the short version is that Brian was visiting a friend when they heard an odd sound coming from the back of the house. When they went to check it out, there was a tiny, gray ball of fur—-they really weren’t even sure what kind of animal it was. Brian’s friend wasn’t unable to add another member to his household, and furthermore, he was moving. Not about to leave this helpless creature, Brian borrowed one of the few items that had yet to be packed—-a crock pot—-put the animal in it, and headed home. He and Lael then took it to a vet, hoping to find out what it was and thinking that the vet would know where the little ball of fur could find a new home.
A quick inspection revealed that Lael and Brian had found a week-or-so-old kitten. The vet speculated that the mom had had to make a quick getaway, and either couldn’t carry the extra kitten, or had determined that there was something wrong with him physically and decided not to bring him along. The vet also knew where this little one would find the perfect, new home—-with Lael and Brian. The couple had had no intent of getting another pet, but didn’t have the heart to abandon him. And thus, the story of Miles began.
Smart and stealth like
Miles seemed to be tiny for so long. He became a 15-pounder, though, and he and Cody developed a relationship that also ranged from mutual tormentors to buds. One day, Miles jumped on the dining room table, opened the package of cookies that was sitting there, and thoughtfully pushed them down on the floor to an anxiously waiting Cody. It was a great idea in theory for Cody, but he soon found that human cookies really weren’t the answer to a corgi’s prayer. We always wondered if Miles knew that going into the plan:)
As mutual tormentors, Cody would chase Miles and then Miles would get his revenge. Miles had two main plans of attack. Sometimes, he would wait patiently for the unsuspecting Cody to come around a corner and then give him a good ambush. Other times, he’d wait for Cody to go to sleep. As Cody dreamed of treats and frisbees, Miles would jump from the bed and give him a good swipe across the nose—-and then the chase would begin. All in a night’s work…
Miles crossed the Rainbow Bridge when he was only four-and-a-half. He had had seizures during his short (but fun filled:) life, so the vet’s theory that his mom knew that something wasn’t quite right with him physically may have been accurate.
By then, our granddaughter had become part of the picture. Cody was very protective of her, but he also was wary of the toddler that was a little wobbly near him when he was trying to rest. He also seemed to get in a little more trouble when she was around. What the heck? He was just trying to share some of her food—-she wanted him to—-really…
Time Passes Too Quickly
The years passed, and Cody began to show signs of aging. His eyes became cloudy with cataracts, and climbing stairs became increasingly difficult. He still loved to go outside and chase his frisbee through his beautiful back yard, but he’d tire more easily. His daytime naps became longer and longer. Lael diligently adjusted his diet, making him special homemade meals.
Mike and I visited Lael and Brian twice within the past few months. In August, we were thrilled that Cody wanted to join us on what turned out to be a three-hour hike. He seemed so much like his old self, running, sniffing, and leading the way proudly with his Grandpa. His new tug-of-war rope toy also made him beam. It was hard to watch Cody go up-and-down stairs, though. You could feel his discomfort as he climbed the stairs, and his cautiousness coming down reminded me of the puppy that wasn’t sure how the trip to the first floor would go. But instead of feeling the excitement of each successful stair, my heart would ache with every step that he took.
Lael had told us that Cody was spending more-and-more time on the first floor, so you can imagine Mike’s and my surprise and delight when on our November visit, we found Cody at the foot of our bed with the familiar, “Help here,” look on his face. Mike gave him a boost and our beloved granddog spent the next part of the night sleeping in between us. Never was I happier to share our bed with such a bed hog:).
The final chapter…
The time came to head to the airport, and I was the last one out the door. Cody followed me, and when I told him that he was going to stay to watch the house, he gave me disappointed look. He started to walk away, and then stopped and looked back at me over his shoulder. The only way that I can describe what happened next is to tell you that I got an “email in my head” saying that that was the last time I would see him. I just knew and honestly, I think he knew—-I think he was telling me that.
A week later, Mike and I got a text from Lael, asking to postpone our weekly FaceTime visit. Cody had passed, the night before. Lael and Brian had been laying in sleeping bags on the living room floor, watching a movie, when Cody came over and laid between the two of them. An hour later, surrounded by Lael and Brian, his breathing stopped.
Life must go on…
I have been an “animal person” from the time I was a little girl. There is something about animals that I find calming and comforting—-and heaven knows (no pun intended:), I am fascinated by their intelligence, loyalty, and unconditional love. The richness that they have added to my life is immeasurable.
It’s no surprise, then, that losing a beloved family pet is crushing. I wasn’t sure I would ever have another pet after losing Snowy—I didn’t think I could face the sadness and emptiness that I had felt when he passed. But life goes on. And, unfortunately, as with any relationship, the richness that pets add to our lives comes with the price tag of knowing that we will eventually have to move on without them. I take comfort in believing that they would want us to continue living happy lives, having fun, and sharing the love that we have with others—even other pets. I also take comfort in believing that someday we are all reunited with our loved ones—-whether those loved ones spent this life on two legs or on four.
So, as we head into this season of thanks, be thankful for all of the richness that pets and animals add to our lives. They all have a special purpose and place. Cherish them and bless them all.
Until next time,