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Iin September 2004, we acquired Cody, a CKC Golden. At left was the clan as of Fall 2004.
It was difficult for me personally to bring Cody into the family because I had not yet gotten over the lost of duke. But you can't dwell on the past, and it was time to move on.
Although I often called him "Duke" by mistake, Cody was a completely different personality. Duke was always mellow, except for his fetish about chasing cats, and barked very rarely. Cody was a bundle of energy, barked often, ignored cats, and could be aggressive at times. (I have a two inch scar on my thumb from breaking up a fight.) He was also intensly pack-oriented and had a much greater need to be close to humans than any of our other dogs, with the possible exception of Fred.
May 2005 was Cody's first Doggie Dash, and also the first dash in which Shannon entered the running event, with Jasmine. Cody had never been around that many dogs before, and spent almost the entire time barking at them. He did ok in the dash once he'd settled down. Jasmine gave Shannon a hard time, as she's used to running with me and wanted to be on my left instead of with Shannon.
Cody was never a very good jogging partner. He wanted to run faster than I could and barked incessantly. I ended up dividing my time between Cody and Jasmine, who was doing better on her new supplements and could jog with me again.
We lost Cody January 2008 to a car accident. He had been cooped up in the back of the truck for a long trip, and when we let him out at home, he got away from me and ran into the street. He was three years old. The lost was devastating to all of us. It was the worst loss I felt since losing my dad.
Needing something to do, I sent email to the CKC that night, sent them his registration number and asked for the breeder information. They got back to me at 7:00 AM the next day, and two days later I was in contact with the breeder. I told him what had happened, and he said that he remembered Cody's litter and had kept one of the females. It so happened that female had littered on Christmas day 2007. We took possession of Cody Junior, the nephew of Cody Senior, on Valentine's Day 2008.
An early picture of Shannon with Mister Chicken, the Indian Ringneck parakeet, our oldest pet. I think Shannon was around five when this photo was taken. As of 2005, Mr. Chicken was about 25 years old. My wife bought him when we first started dating. At right, Mister Chicken around 1980. If you look closely, you can see that he had not yet acquired the characteristic black ring around his neck.
I remember that bird and cage was about $70, which would be a great deal if you could get it now. (Young ringnecks currently run about $300 without cage.) Chicken and I didn't get off on the right foot. Tammy kept him in her room, and he tended to grumble to himself during the night and crow at sunrise. This made sleeping at Tammy's apartment a miserable experience. He didn't like being covered, and would complain loudly. The situation didn't get better until Tammy moved into a house big enough to put the bird somewhere away from the bedroom.
In later years, Chicken and I got along better. Chicken taught me that all things are relative, including noise. What I thought was an ear shattering squawk is absolutely nothing compared to the scream of (for instance) a sulfur crested *censored*atoo.
Chicken was pretty much a loaner. He didn't require a lot of attention, except when he wanted to be fed, and he didn't warm to people very much. He would grumble and be uncooperative if I tried to hold him. Shannon always had better luck with him.
In 2006 Chicken left the house through a partly open door during a cage cleaning. I saw him a couple times outside over the next day or two, and there were occasional reports in the area of an exotic bird that summer, generally heading west. I hope he found a good home.
Sparky the budgie. Sparky was Shannon's fourth budgie. We got her from a breeder around September, 2003. Shannon picked her out, and deliberately picked the runt of the clutch because "she looked like she needed me". Sparky was very skinny when we took her home and we weren't sure she would survive. But Shannon did succeed in fattening her up a little. At left, Sparky as of January 2005.
Sparky died of unknown causes in 2006. Despite Shannon's meticulous care, Sparky was never very healthy. But I suppose she lived longer with us than she would have otherwise.
Fred had a habit of wandering even before we got them. When Tammy would take Shannon to daycare, Shannon would say "Go slow, we need to watch for Fred" and there he would be, in the road. We took him back to their house so many times that it seemed natural to just take him home when they left town. On that day he lay in the passenger seat and put his head in my lap and gave a happy sigh, like he knew he was going home.
Fred seemed to be starved for attention. He would follow me around the house and settle by my feet as soon as I stopped moving. He got along well enough with the other dogs, although Jasmine nipped him a couple of times when he got too pushy.
When I think of Fred, the word that comes to mind is "grateful". He seemed grateful for everything -- sleeping inside, being close to humans, going for walks, and most especially for the food I placed in front of him. We feed all the dogs at regular times twice a day -- 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Fred never charged at the bowl. He would look up at me while I set it down and then give a little sigh before eating.
The Lardners got Fred from the animal shelter, so were not sure of his age. We estimated 11 years old in 2002. Fred seemed elderly and feeble at that time, and we were primarily concerned with keeping him comfortable for the remaining days of his life. Boy were we surprised. As the years went on, Fred got older and older and still managed to hang on. He was always a wanderer, and in later years he got what we called "doggie dementia" and would do odd things, like crawl into confined spaces -- behind the bushes, or behind the toilet -- get stuck, and cry for help.
Fred had an excellent talent for sneaking out the front door. He didn't charge or bound, so it was easy to lose track of him. Once he was loose, e didn't move fast, but would take off at a determined shuffle that he could keep up all day. Mostly blind by this time, he'd get to the end of the driveway, turn left, and using the sidewalk to guide him, take a grand tour of the neighborhood. When we discovered him missing, we'd usually find him at the place where the sidewalk ends, just standing there, puzzled.
By 2006 his back legs had stopped working, and he'd pretty much lost control of his bowels. If I got him on his feet, he could walk a little, but if he fell over he couldn't get up. He was ancient by this time, and we had already decided on a "do not resuscitate" rule, just trying to keep him comfortable and wait it out. Fred would occasionally panic, partly I think because of his dementia and partly because of his lack of mobility. In this way he was different from Sheeba, who kept her intelligence her whole life, and didn't mind being immobile if there was something interesting to watch.
Fred died in the summer of 2006. We estimate he was 15 years old, but he might have been older. Rescued from the pound, living with first one family and then another, Fred was always happy to be wherever life took him.
We got Duke as a puppy in 1990 from a co-worker at Sequent. He was tall and massive. (110 pounds) Duke was my running partner for twelve years. He participated in the 3rd annual Doggie Dash and was still participating at the 15th annual Doggie Dash.
Duke had his share of medical difficulties. He needed operations on both shoulders for OCD (a cartilage degenerative condition) and went blind in one eye from Glaucoma in 2002. Despite his difficulties, he always remained good natured and friendly.
Duke hardly ever barked. We actually took him to the doctor when he was two years old to have his vocal chords examined.
We lost Duke last May. In February he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer during a routine examination. After long consideration we decided not to subject him to chemotherapy at his age. He did ok for months on anti-nausea medication and herbal remedies, but around the end of April he started getting short of breath and our walks got shorter and shorter. Duke's last trip to the park was Sunday May 2. He lay in a corner of the park by the path and watched Shannon play with the other dogs. It was the same corner as Dusty lay, her last visit in 1998. Duke was still alert the next two days but very short of breath. Duke slipped into a coma May 5 and died that evening.
I'm afraid I took it very hard. I've had dogs around me all my life, but Duke was the first dog that was entirely mine in my adult life. He would have been 14 in August. Duke lived a ripe old age for a Golden, and I am blessed by the time I was allowed to spend with him.
Shannon and I had made an impression of Duke's foot in cement when he
was still mobile -- about two weeks before he died, and decorated it
with impressions of dog bones and other decorations. It turned out
pretty well. We were originally going to put it in the garden, but
ended up putting it by the front door, where you can see it when you
Sheeba, 13 years old, Christmas 1999. Yes, we know we spelled "sheba" wrong,
but by the time we discovered our error it was on all her documents. We
originally purchased her to show, but she grew too big (2 inches over
breed standard at the shoulder) and didn't have the right temperament.
So she became a pet.
Dusty was half German Shepherd and half Golden Retriever. She was an interesting looking dog, more intelligent than any dog we've had before or since, and a manic frisbee catcher. Dusty died July 21, 1998 from kidney failure. She was 13 years old. For more, see the 1998 Christmas letter. Another dusty story can be found here. And yet another here.
I think we've been to the annual Doggie Dash every year since we moved
here. Once Dusty got on the local news. At left, an early Dash
with (left to right) Duke, Dusty and Sheeba.
Gus, the Siberian Dwarf Hamster. We think he was a true Siberian instead of
a more common Russian because his fur turned white in the winter and grey
in the summer.
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