Saying Good-bye to a Friend
Kiowa and Cody. Cody and Kiowa. Always a pair. Rarely was one name ever mentioned without the other. Joined by generation and activity. Hiking buddies. Companions.
Kiowa was the first dog we ever owned. A young, 10-week old Siberian Husky puppy when we got him, Kiowa soon became a rambunctious 7-month old who needed a playmate. Enter Cody, the companion.
Cody was one year old when he arrived. Cody was originally purchased by someone else when he was a young Siberian Husky puppy, intended to be a show dog. He was shipped from Pennsylvania to Colorado while still a pup. It soon became evident that Cody was not going to have a successful career as a show dog. Instead, he was given to us to keep and love and raise as a pet.
The first time we ever saw Cody, we went to his owner's house in the country near Kiowa, Colorado. As we drove into the yard, we saw an outdoor kennel. Staring at us through the chain-link fence was an animal looking more wolf-like than like a typical Siberian. We both looked at him and then each other, wondering "could this really be him?" As beautiful as he looked, we were hoping so.
His owner let Cody out of the kennel, and he promptly ran around the yard and into the kitchen to see us. As we knelt near the kitchen floor, the first thing he did was come over and start leaning on us. That was Cody's habit for life. Cody was never content to lie around on the floor for long; he had to be as close to us as possible, leaning on us so we would rub and pet him. In fact, if you moved away quickly, Cody often lost his balance and fell over.
Physically, Cody was not your typical Siberian. This was what kept him out of the show ring. Cody was a "woolly", which meant he had a coat much longer than desired. But his long gray and white coat is also what made him look so impressive. The fur around his neck was especially long, and gave him that wolf-like appearance. Cody seemed to slink when he walked, holding his head lower than normal. This movement only increased the illusion of the wolf.
Cody's movement would not have been acceptable in the show ring. For instance, when he walked his back nails scraped the ground. On walks around the neighborhood, we would hear the rhythmic scraping of the nails on concrete. But Cody had a beautiful head. He had light brown eyes, alert ears, and a snow-nose, which was black on both sides with a pink bar running vertically through the center.
During the early 1990's, Cody and Kiowa were constant companions on the hiking trail. Barr Trail, which leads to the summit of Pikes Peak, was their most frequent hike. They spent many miles and hours running unleashed up and down that trail. But Cody's greatest day, and worst, on the trail was hiking to Independence Pass in November of 1990.
Cody was selected to be my companion on a two-night camp-out in the Colorado mountains. We took a 4-wheel drive vehicle onto a snow-covered dirt road just off the main road leading to Independence Pass, and set up camp at a suitable location. Cody was going to sleep in the tent with me that first night, but he wasn't comfortable being confined to the tent. So before the night was very old, I had tied him outside to sleep in the snow. With no wind, and the trees for shelter, he seemed very comfortable and much happier.
The next day, we started the hike to Independence Pass. The road was closed for the season about seven miles from the summit, so we parked and started hiking from the barricade. We had seven miles of snow-covered road ahead, all to ourselves. Cody spent all day off leash, running ahead, exploring, running back to check on me, and running ahead again. He had a wonderful time, and traveled many more miles than I. By the time we reached the pass, we were well above timberline, and it was snowing hard and the wind was blowing. After a short time at the summit for photos and scenery, we headed down.
After descending below timberline, the shelter of the trees helped lessen the wind. But Cody didn't notice, because he was still having a blast. He would range far ahead, leaving the road often, exploring whatever he found just over the embankment. Up ahead, on a long, straight stretch of road, I saw Cody come running back up onto the snowy road, shaking his head. Even at a distance, I could tell something was wrong. He made his way back to me, stopping often to shake his head and paw at his face. Cody had met Mr. Porcupine. Cody had a face full of quills, some in his nose, some in his muzzle, and some in his tongue. Every time he would shake his head, drops of blood would spray the white snow. Cody's best day had become his worst.
We retreated down the mountain as fast as we could, but we were still two hours from the vehicle. As soon as we reached it, we drove back to camp, packed up, and drove two more hours to Colorado Springs. We reached home about 10:00 PM, and headed for the emergency animal clinic. He was put under general anesthesia and the quills were removed. Cody recovered just fine from that episode. That night was Cody's first visit to the emergency clinic. Last night was his last.
Cody was just over 11 1/2 years old on October 2nd, 1999, due to turn 12 in February of 2000. He seemed fine early in the day. While in the backyard with the other dogs, he came up for his still-patented leaning and petting. But before I went back into the house, I noticed that Cody was in his doghouse, away from everyone else. He still ate his supper that evening, but he was noticeably uncomfortable. We thought it might just be those old bones of his, since he occasionally acted stiff and sore at times, only to recover by the next morning.
We brought him into the house during the evening, but he just couldn't get comfortable. He acted unsteady on the stairs as he went back outside to be confined in his kennel. Around midnight, we heard commotion from the other dogs, and found Cody violently sick. We started the car and helped Cody through the house. On the front porch, he collapsed, so he was carried to the car. For part of the ride to the clinic, we heard him violently retching and trying to breath. At other times, it was eerily quiet.
After X-rays were taken, it was learned that Cody had become bloated and his stomach had twisted. He was in severe distress, and after talking with the veterinarian, learned his chances were slim regardless of what action was taken. We decided we had to say good-bye to Cody.
Cody was a great companion to Kiowa and to us for 10 1/2 years. The one thing you always knew about Cody was that he needed people. That was pretty evident when, instead of selecting a comfortable spot on the floor, he would stand next to you, leaning, waiting for that touch of your hand. We knew he needed us. What we didn't know until last night was how much we needed him.
Cody on Independence Pass
Cody Resting along Barr Trail
Kontoki's Mountain Time
February 20, 1988 - October 3, 1999