Those who know me best would never describe me as a dog person, so I was surprised when I stumbled on and read the two reflections (below) I wrote during our dog's final days back in 2005. They offer praise to God for his furry gift and gratefulness for our time with Cody.
I am not a dog lover, but I guess I loved Cody more than I realized and my heart hurt as he spent his final days with us.
Oddly enough, it still aches.
[Originally posted on Saturday, January 29, 2005]
Thank You God, for Cody
He seems to shiver a lot these days, and his tired old legs struggle to propel his considerable girth across the room. This morning, as so many before it, I crept up to him quietly while I uttered a simple, silent prayer--God, please let him be alive and sleeping comfortably. Hearing his labored breath, I thanked God for not choosing this day to break my heart and sat down to think about my goofy and sometimes unpredictable relationship with Cody, my family's faithful companion for the past 12 years.
When my wife and oldest daughter surprised the rest of us with Cody, he was just a little ball of pepper-colored fur wrapped tightly around a baby fat puppy. We couldn't help but love this shaky little yapper, and we doted on him like there was no tomorrow. Poor little creature rarely had any alone time.
According to the pet store, he was a pure breed Miniature Schnauzer, but as time went on we began to have our doubts as to his unblemished pedigree. He eventually grew to be about one and a half times the size of a typical Miniature Schnauzer. Eventually, he appeared to be of a breed that was completely unique to him--neither Miniature nor Giant, Cody grew into a handsome and one-of-a-kind "Medium Schnauzer." But, we loved him, and he loved us back.
Between those early years and now, Cody has brought us a lot of joy. However, just as human babies eventually grow out of that cute stage, Cody gradually became...well let's just say that he became not so cute. In fact, over time Cody developed some downright not-so-cute traits and habits. Rather than bore you with a lot of detail (perhaps that will come in later posts), let me just say that Cody has enough terrier breed in him to be obstinate and uncooperative. He listens to you only when he wants to, that is, while he can hear you from another room as you quietly remove the twister seal from a loaf of bread, he refuses to respond when you loudly command him to "come." He's always been a wanderer. Oh, he's never exactly "run" away, but he has managed to slither off more times than I can remember--sometimes, he's disappeared for days, only to be found wandering aimlessly looking at ducks or sniffing the grass. Oh, and did I mention that he stinks, and licks his front legs constantly, and barks incessantly at every little noise, and knocks over the trash, and sometimes potties where he shouldn't, and...?
Sure, I've got a lot of things to complain about when it comes to our Cody, but there are also the frequent times when Cody forces himself into my heart with his antics. There are times when I come home from a hard day of work, and he wags his little cropped tail so fast that it disappears the way a spinning propeller does. That always pushes away my gloom and makes me smile. And then there are the times when, in unexplained bursts of energy, he bounds around the room like a gazelle. That always makes me chuckle. Cody also has a sweet habit of leaning on me, or resting his chin into the palm of my hand, while he "talks" to me with quiet groans and sighs, as if to say, "I love you, my human." That always makes me happy.
Listen, don't tell my family, but despite all my whining and grumbling about him, I love that dog. And you know what? I believe that dog loves me--and that makes me happy.
I think that our relationship with God is a lot like that, only Cody is probably more faithful with his unconditional love for me than I am with my love for God. I love Cody, that goofball dog, in spite of his "shortcomings." In the same way, despite the fact that I only hear God when I want to, or the fact that my sins create a stench in which God can't abide, or the messes I make in places I shouldn't be and the habits I shouldn't have, God loves me. Always has, always will. Thank you, Father, for blessing my family with Cody.
The days passed slowly after this post, and then just three days later I posted this:
[Originally posted on Tuesday, February 1, 2005]
Thank You God, for Cody (part 2)
Time stopped for Cody--and the memories began--yesterday, January 31, 2005 at about 10:00 in the morning. Fittingly, God blessed us with a cold, drizzly, gray day that provided a perfect reflection of the condition of our hearts over the loss of our faithful companion.
Buffalo Bill Cody--his full name--was born in Texas on August 10, 1992 and he entered our lives just a few weeks later. As I shared in my post on January 29, Cody blessed us in ways that will continue to surprise us even as we're touched by his absence each day. As Henry Van Dyke (American educator and author, 1852-1933), wrote, "Kindness is contagious. The spirit of harmony trickles down by a thousand secret channels into the inmost recesses of the household of life." Cody was a gentle dog, with a kind spirit of harmony that did, indeed, permeate and enrich our lives very deeply. He truly was a gift from the Father.
If you've lost a furry friend and would like to share your story, please feel free to join the conversation below.