Right before the holiday season, my family and I said goodbye to our family dog, Cody. It was a moment that we knew would come eventually. I think everyone knows that the worst part of being a pet owner is knowing that we won't have them forever. But it was a moment that we didn't expect to come so soon.
Cody was an older dog, and definitely showing a few signs of getting older. He would wake up early with me every morning, and I would laugh as I noticed us both stretching and making a few audible "pops" and "cracks" as we took our first steps. He had also decided that resting on the floor was no longer acceptable, and took up residence on a cozy spot on the couch for his daily naps. When cars drove by our house or other dogs would bark in the distance, he had started barking at them in a way that we could only describe as one of those classic cartoon old-timers shouting, "Keep it down whippersnappers."
It was these new nuances that reminded us that he was getting older, but he still chased rabbits, birds, and chipmunks out of the yard like he was a pup; and he could still play a game of frisbee fetch for hours if you let him.
In early November, Brian, Sam, and I set up a series of bean bags in the family room to watch a movie close by the fire. Cody came over and curled up in the bend of my knees like he used to do as a puppy. From there he began having a seizure; and before we knew it he was gone.
It was a moment that I was unprepared for, and one that hit me harder than I ever expected it to. I have always thought of myself as someone who accepts loss pretty gracefully, but I am also someone who has a special place in my heart for animals, and so Cody truly held a special little place with me. One that I didn't fully appreciate until that moment that we lost him. He was my loyal companion. Always laying at my feet or resting his head in my lap when I was working, always excited to go explore a hiking trail, and always willing to share a snack.
And now my daily routines are a little lonelier. I stretch, "pop" and "crack" on my own. There are no traces of dog hair on the couch, and the house is quiet now when the cars drive by.
We have so much to be thankful for this year. And while we are certainly feeling a void, we are grateful for the experience that having Cody brought us, and thankful for all of the laughs that his quirky personality brought us. I think that his quick and unexpected exit from our lives made us hug each other a little tighter, worry about the small and mundane a little less, and truly appreciate our moments with friends and family this holiday season.
Looking forward to the New Year, I think it may have been a much needed lesson in perspective and appreciation for me. It's certainly a lesson that I wish I could have simply read in a book, but it's one that I hope carries through the year.