“Aww,” I gushed as the thick dog stared at me. “I’ve always wanted a chocolate lab! What’s his name?”
And before my question could be answered, that most adorable chocolate Labrador Retriever barrelled down the stairs, knocked me off my feet, and humped me as I remained shocked and helpless on the floor, pinned by 85 pounds of unleashed testosterone and drool. Little did I know that the man who owned this crazy dog would become my husband (that’s a different story for a different day). And the horny dog himself would become my pride and joy, my running partner, my bed mate, my first child, my children’s first pet, my best buddy.
Cody was 2 years old when I met Mr. Roller Coaster. He was past the puppy stage but not quite past the possessive nature of a dog who had never had to share his owner with another human. Suddenly this new lady enters the picture, and Cody has to relinquish his longstanding place in his owner’s bed, his car, and his heart. Cody declared his resentment by staring me down, chewing up my unmentionables, and incessantly humping me.
But soon my relationship with that most adorable chocolate Labrador Retriever changed. Suddenly I was the one feeding him and walking him and taking care of his basic needs. His resentment turned to loyalty. He became my dog. He followed me around. He obeyed my commands. And I don’t think he ever humped me again.
Cody was there when we moved to our first duty station. He was there when our son was born. He was there when Mr. Roller Coaster deployed to Iraq. He was there when we moved across the world to Japan. He was there when our daughter was born. Cody was a part of us, an important member of our family. And when he got sick and I called the vet to schedule the appointment to put him down, my heart broke into pieces to think of a life without that most adorable chocolate Labrador Retriever. But he was in pain, and it was time.
Cody never made it to his appointment. He passed away in his bed in our bedroom in the middle of the night after suffering his third seizure. Mr. Roller Coaster and I were with him. We were able to say our goodbyes and tell him how much we loved him. It was December 16, 2007.
Why am I retelling this story now, 4 years later? Well, until a few days ago, our beloved Cody had yet to find his final resting place, we had yet to fully let him go. You see Cody died while we were stationed in Japan. Because we didn’t want to leave him there, we had him cremated and brought his remains back to the States. No man left behind right? But years passed, and we never had the heart to bury him. His remains rested inside the decorative container the Japanese crematorium gave us to house the urn, which we tucked away on a closet shelf at our family’s cabin in the mountains. Every time we visited the cabin we gave Cody a little smile, promised ourselves we would bury him one day, and then closed the door again.
Every time but this time.
This past July we welcomed the most adorable black Labrador Retriever into our family. Gunner could never replace Cody, but he has filled a void that we’ve been unable to fill in our family since Cody died. And I think that’s why we were finally able to say our final goodbyes to that most adorable chocolate Labrador Retriever. Four years after his death, we finally buried our beloved Cody, we finally laid him to rest.
Goodbye Cody. We miss you. You’ll always be in our hearts.