Dakota South Five
The Loss of My 16 Year Old Friend
Dakota South Five, June 1993 ~ July 24, 2009
Good bye friend,sung by Linda Ronstadt
At times when I have been out and about with Chance or Steeler visiting the public I will occasionally hear this comment from people: “I love dogs, but I could never own one because I can’t go through all the sadness when they die.”
I never really knew how to respond to that statement as the death of a pet is a very hard and personal thing to go through and each person reacts differently to it. I prefer to grieve privately, not tell anyone but family what happened and when friends do find out I appreciate just a short note of acknowledgement and nothing more as I am not an easy one to talk to about such a subject in person, as the majority of my close friends have experienced. The death of one of my dogs will leave me speechless and blubbering like an idiot for several days or weeks on end.
So to all those well meaning people, a note or nod of the head will do for me and be warned, even a nod can open the floodgates of my heart.
Others though, are helped by talking openly to anyone who will understand their pain and I admire them as they probably get through the loss a bit faster or perhaps a little bit easier as burdens are easier carried when there are others to help lighten the load. There really is no right or wrong way to grieve over the loss of one's pet just as there is no right or wrong way to grieve over the loss of a human companion, but after Cody’s euthanasia on Friday, for some reason the above statement came to mind and now I think I may be better equipped to answer it from a personal standpoint.
"For me, sixteen years of happiness is worth the struggle of a few days or even weeks of pain that you will feel when it is time for your friend to cross over the rainbow bridge."
Dakota South Five, AKA Cody, my Cocker Spaniel, was not as well known as my Newfoundland’s, he did not possess their outwardly charming personality and in fact many did not like him. His fear aggressive personality was a real turnoff to those who met him, but his personality was not his fault. When a person brings home a fear aggressive dog it is their duty to try and change the way the dog views the world. In Cody’s first year he was trained in obedience and he did go out and socialize frequently as we would bring him to our boy's baseball games, take him for walks through town, or rides in the car when we went shopping, but it was not enough, and as the household increased yearly with more dogs, although Cody still went many places, he rarely came in contact with people and very rarely was he in contact with dogs outside the family. He was as much as a socialite as Peter and I are, and that is not saying much since it has been 17 years since our move from NY to PA and we can still count the number of neighbors we know on less than ten fingers!
Some may have known Cody personally and some may have only heard his name mentioned through me or Peter. Depending on which of one of us you talked to would determine if you would like him or if you would head for the hills when he came near you. To me, Cody was always friendly as I was the apple of his eye, his tail always wagged when I walked into a room, and in his youth he would wait by the back gate for me to come home, be it rain, snow, sleet, or hail, and no one could budge him away from that gate with just a call of his name, he waited there unless he was physically picked up and moved. He was a smart dog and was always eager to learn a new trick. He would wave a paw on command and bring me any item that I would ask him to bring, a shoe was a shoe, a slipper a slipper, and a ball was a ball, he knew them all. He enjoyed his car rides, and trips to his Grandparents house when my father was alive, and he liked his stuffed Kong which he still played with until the end of his life. He still got excited when cars pulled into our driveway, excited for the very company he did not know how to handle once face to face with them.
Peter did not quite see Cody in the same light I did, but I understood where he was coming from.
No matter how you remember Cody, he was a great example of a dog that came with baggage. Baggage that he should have had extensive help with to overcome, so as the old saying goes, “Don’t shoot the dog, shoot the owner!”
I still have six wonderful, healthy dogs in my charge all being around the same age, maybe a year or two difference between them, so I suspect that one year I will really be bombarded with the passing of loyal companions and I don’t envy my family, friends, or coworkers when this inevitable process takes place.
For those of you who may need help with your grief there is a great site where you can talk with other owners going through the same thing. You can also register your pet to have a candle lit in their memory. I will be lighting a candle for Cody at 10 PM EST on Monday as well as for the rest of my dogs that have gone before him.
An animated story of the Rainbow Bridge
The story of 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...