The Dog Doctor Told Me That I Needed to Change

Earlier today, my family and I had to put our 11-year-old dog Cody down due to complications following cancer and other assorted and cumulative ailments. He was blind and had recently lost his hearing and his teeth. He had become increasingly lame, irritable, discontent and restless—boy, do I relate to those character defects.

We had three rescue dogs, which I had code-named “Happy,” “Joyous” and “Free”—inspired by the AA Big Book promise. Cody was “Happy” in this trio. I gave him the “Happy” moniker because he taught me so much about being happy:

  • Despite all his challenges, hurdles, struggles, his tail always wagged, including when I set him down on the blanket in the vet’s office for the last time.
  • He lived for some very simple things: food, play, going for group walks and being petted.
  • He ate each meal as if it were his first and last.
  • Until his blindness, he would constantly play fetch and woof at the evening sounds, ever vigilant for the occasional squirrel.
  • He never really learned how to bark, but made a sound like a low pitched gurgle.
  • Once he discovered the joys of a good belly rub, he became an instant mashed potato. If we were in the kitchen, I could spin him around on the tile.

So where does the recovery set in? So, so many ways. Here are a few:

  • Cody inspired me to dust myself off when a new challenge arises. Instead of fleeing the scene and chasing into the problem, which was my default mechanism for nearly four decades, Cody was a guidepost to hunker down, shake off the guilt, shame, and remorse, and intrepidly move forward.
  • I had to really work through a Fourth Step inventory after he bit me, then bit me again, again, and again. It wasn’t easy but I can honestly say I had no malice or ill will for that woebegone canine.
  • We took him for dog therapy and the doctor told me that I needed to change, shift my way of handling high(er) stress situations. And, I did. I was teachable. It didn’t really change Cody, but strangely reinforced the notion of pausing when agitated.

After much discussion with my wife and our adult children, and after several vet consultations, we came to peace with putting him to sleep. Today, being Sunday, with the gray skies and light rain, it felt rather serene to bring him in. I spent a lot of time with my Higher Power, asking for guidance and love; I had to let go, and let God. I truly believe he is in a better place.

Bill K., New York, USA

Total Views: 88|Daily Views: 1

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!