I remember the day back in 2011 where I drove up an hour and a half to go take a visit. “We’re just going to look”, I said. On the way up, we talked about what we wanted and how firm I was in some of my thoughts and ideas surrounding a life-changing decision: getting a dog. Getting a pet of any kind is an endeavor, and it comes with a lot of wants and desires for what puppy fits your family best.
For example, I didn’t want one that shed. Like, at all. But all it took was about 30 seconds of meeting Alaska that I didn’t want to let him go. So much for will power. We decided that’s what we wanted to do, this was the puppy for us, and wanted him to come home. Of course, someone else had put their name down right before us, so that wasn’t going to work out. I was so angry at the time that I didn’t drive home. But when we were about 5 min from home, I got a call that the people had passed him over and he was ours. Just had to go back and get him.
And another hour and a half later, along with a trip to the pet store, we had our puppy. He looked like a little Kodiak bear, and that’s why we changed his name to Koda. He took a while to train, and I spend many nights in the living room on an air mattress helping him out every couple of hours to pee. After a while, he was all good. He kept growing, and as we soon found out, shed. A lot. Sometimes trash bags full of undercoat. So much for my insistence.
But that quite literally was the only negative for him ever. He is the kindest dog ever. Just wants love. And bike rides where he would pull me at 16 miles an hour. As time went on, we took long walks, went to dog parks ()when that was a thing you could do), and he even made some really great dog friends that he was fond of.1 He never had any issues, and was the lovable part of the family that brought joy into our lives.
And then last October, we got the cancer diagnosis.2 Thankfully we found it when we did. We started some treatment, but the only real solution was a surgery, chemo, and radiation. And as much as I wanted to keep him around, I couldn’t prolong his life without dignity. So we set a path to enjoy the time with him that we could. In November, we did a 5K with him. In December, I even did a 5 mile walk with him. Seemed like things were good. We did regular 4 mile walks in January, but then in February he couldn’t go longer than 2 miles without falling way behind. In March, it was worse. then in April, it was less than a mile. He started not wagging his tail at times. He would half-sit to alleviate the pain he was feeling from the cancer, and you could see it in his face that he was suffering. He never yelped, never cried out. But you could tell it was there.
It’s tough to make difficult decisions like this. Far too often, we make decisions based on our own needs/wants/desires and selfishly put ourselves over others. We want to hold on to things longer just so we don’t lose them, so we don’t have our feelings hurt, so that we feel better about everything. And when a difficult decision becomes the obvious one, it doesn’t make it any less shitty.
And now he’s feeling no pain, but I know I will for a while. This one hurts. But I’m going to do what I can to remember all the wonderful joy he brought to our lives for over 10 years. I’m going to think back to all of those times he got me out of the house, the times he wanted to keep going and push me, and I’m going to remember those fondly. I’m going to miss all the excitement of me coming home, of him wanting to play, and the shear power of the tail he wagged when he saw our family and friends.
I’m going to miss you forever, Koda…