Pawprints on my Heart

Coda came into my life when I was coming to the end of my thirties. I’m in my fifties now. He was a little bundle of joy that became a huge bundle of joy. I don’t think he gave me a minute of trouble in his whole life. Coda was in my life before my husband. And somehow I guess on some level I thought he would always be with me.

His first home was in East Haven, CT where we lived just down the road from the town beach. What could make for a happier puppyhood for a lab? He was a fantastic swimmer and got plenty of time in the water. We had a fenced in yard he could play ball in, and we even made a poured concrete ornamental pond for him to dip in and cool off in between rounds of fetch.

He made no protest at all when we brought other dogs into the house; some were fosters, others belonged to people who stayed with us for a few months here and there, and one special pup named Adoc became his brother. Sadly, we lost Adoc to illness when he was only four and a half years old. Coda made no protest about anything, no matter what kind of upheavals we threw his way. We moved from East Haven down to Blowing Rock, NC, then to Gastonia, then to Kings Mountain, then at last to Shelby. He just rolled right along with us, secure and happy. I don’t think he knew a moment of discomfort in his whole life.

Coda came to work with me for the first three years of his life. He loved people. His mission in life was to kiss the whole world. He had more friends than most people do. He was invited to little girls’ sleepover parties in the neighborhood. There was practically a bidding war over who got to keep him when my husband and I had to go out of town for a few days.

My own road has been pretty bumpy and the one constant I had was Coda. He truly was my very best friend. In fact, I told my husband on several occasions, “I may have married you, but the dog is the love of my life!”

Last February we had to make the decision to let my boy go. He could barely walk and his health was starting to fail. His quality of life was diminishing daily and I promised him many years ago that I would never let him suffer.  His last day was full of love and food and friends – Coda had more friends than anyone I ever knew. He had visitors the whole day who came by with homemade dog treats, friends who came by to lay on his big bed with him and cuddle and pals who came by to feed him all kinds of goodies. Nothing was off limits to him that day. And at the end of the day Marty and I took him, along with his favorite bed and blanket to the vet and said our own private goodbyes. We stayed with him until he was gone.

I swore I would never get another dog. It’s just too hard when they get old and decline and they leave. For the first time in my adult life I was without a dog. That lasted about a month or so, It was not my intention to get another dog. I wasn’t looking for another dog.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

A few months earlier I’d been asked to pick a dog from the local shelter for a family I knew. I did that. I picked out a beautiful black and white pup who was part lab and automatically going to be a good dog. As it turned out the family couldn’t keep him and by March he needed a new home. There was some idle talk of him going back to the shelter and I just couldn’t stand the thought. So he came home with me. His name is now Bodie and Bodie comes to work with me most days.

He’s not Coda, but he’s wonderful in his own way. He makes me laugh, he lifts the spirits of the people I work with in the office and sure enough… he has captured the hearts of all of Coda’s old friends. One dog never replaces another, but each one expands our hearts.

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3 thoughts on “Pawprints on my Heart

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to lose our canine companions, but we are fortunate to have have them in our lives. It took me-I know you may not believe this-ten (10) years before I got a dog again. And this was at the insistence of my then girlfriend. The first time I lost a dog-my mom’s dog-I felt my heart breaking and I told myself that I never wanted to feel like that again. do you know what I regret? That I waited so long to get another dog. What’s ironic? I am now a-brace yourself-a dog trainer.

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