This, dear friends, is Koda. He is 3 1/2 and amazing.
A Big Little Life - a memoir of a Joyful Dog, Trixie. I'm not normally a Koontz fan/reader. I'm afraid of my own shadow and I've already told you about how adrenaline and I are not friends. So until he came out with his "Bliss" series of books written by Trixie (with help from Dean, obviously), I had little knowledge of him. But this book - I laugh, I cry, I say "THAT'S SOMETHING KODA WOULD DO!!!!". It's in all caps because I half yell it. Anyway, I'm not done with the book yet but it got me thinking that I should tell you a little about the "short stuff" in my life.
In the first chapter of my book, I write about several things that happened in the 10 months prior to Gregory's birth. Koda makes it into the first chapter. Three not good things happened prior to my pregnancy with Gregory. I won't be discussing those things here - at least not yet and maybe not ever. But during all three events, Koda was there. All three were scary in their own way. Two were devastating, very different from each other, but equally as heart breaking and included hours of tears. One had me in tears of fear but luckily all turned out ok.
In each of these instances (all within about a month of each other, by the way), Koda knew something was up. More than once he cuddled me on the floor or on my bed while I wept. It's very similar to how Koda has reacted to my pain - physical or emotional, in the past. I've dealt with fibromyalgia for years and Koda is very keen on my "pain" days. He doesn't pull at the leash, he is gentle with me, he knows.
Koda is a Golden Retriever. He has bounds of energy when you first come home or he sees you again after you've been out of the room for a while, he gets VERY excited. He jumps up doing a full body wag and races off to find a toy or two to show off in hopes of gaining your interest and wanting to play. He's a young dog and energy is part of the package. But each time I came home sad, he didn't full body wag or run for a toy. Instead he would slowly approach me and sit very quietly next to me waiting for further instruction and ready to follow me wherever I decided I needed to go; the floor, the couch, the bed.
During the time I was getting sick at home, in the few hours I was here before the paramedics came to take me back to the hospital, my family surrounded me. My parents (all 3 of them) were here, Jason was here, Gregory slept in the swing as I cried out in pain. Koda was worried. I think he knew something was really wrong. Eventually my "other mom" (step mom), Alisa, had to sit on the floor and try to calm him down. I believe Koda knew something was happening that wasn't good but he didn't know what to do to help me. He was just worried. My mom later said that if I'd been in the hospital any longer she would have brought Koda to me for a visit. He wasn't happy that I was gone for so long and, I'm told, slept by the door waiting for me.
I believe with all my heart that animals are connected to us. Koda can read me better than most people. He knows right away when I'm not feeling good, when I need him to be calm, when I need him to make me laugh. He doesn't fall for the fake "I'm ok" that I say way too often. Since the surgeries and subsequent PPD/PTSD, Koda has played a major role in helping me. I can say things to him that I know he won't repeat; things that I can't trust enough to say to anyone (human) else and he listens without judgement.
When I look into his big brown eyes I see only love and affection - and sometimes a wanting to play. I can't imagine life without Koda and when I try it makes me so sad I cry. Koda has been through so much with me. He is my confidant, my friend. He is always there and always ready to give of himself with very little to no expectation of anything in return. Except breakfast and dinner. He loves to eat... he is a Golden after all.
But I try to give as much back to Koda as I can. He is a special boy with a huge heart. He deserves every ounce of love we pour on him. He deserves the best because he only gives us his best. Koda is a rock star and earned his nickname "Koda Bon Jovi". He's also known around here as Koda-Boda Buddha-Belly (from his puppy days when he did have a Buddha belly!), Fuzzy, Puppidup, and many other loving nicknames - too many to mention here.
So this is my post, with love, to Koda. The dog who has helped shape me into who I am and without whom I don't know what I would do. His soul belongs with mine. We are connected.
Koda is as much a person to me as he is a dog. He is a part of our family. A big part. Other animal lovers know exactly what I'm talking about. And if you haven't had the joy of an animal in your life, you ought to give it a try. Animals can help you look at the world from a whole new prospective and do so with a love so unconditional its a little scary because it's something you, as a human, couldn't ever match.