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[Ben]:Rest easy, old man. Discuss This [4 comments so far] View Comments
We moved to the area back in 1995 and it wasn't long after we got settled into our house that my Mom brought home a little malamute/black lab puppy with an oversized snout and huge paws. I was in the very back of our yard mowing the lawn when she waved us in and I saw something fuzzy wiggling in her arms. I'm not sure I finished mowing the lawn that day. I don't recall exactly what possessed us to name him Kodiak (Kodi for short) originally, but given the fact that he ended up growing into a dog closely approximating the size and intimidating nature of a bear, it ended up being very appropriate.

Kodi's first days in our home were filled with defiance. He was, at the time, small enough to spend his days in the house, but when he was unhappy with something he would walk up to the offending party, look them right in the eye and angrily pee on the brand new hardwood floors. While he was rather quickly broken of this habit, his steadily increasing size and energetic nature quickly relegated him to being an outdoor dog. One summer we found him eating a whole grilled chicken. To this day we're not sure if he jumped the fence, stole it from someone's grill and came home with it, or if some neighbor tossed it over the fence to him.

Kodi wasn't always the most trusting dog when strangers came around, but he was absolutely loyal to his pack, and extremely protective when they were in danger. When he was much younger, a cousin was chasing Jon around in the back yard. Kodi decided Jon was in danger and tackled the cousin - although thankfully stopped short of tearing him limb from limb. Bad habits, I know, but he wasn't quick to be broken of them. His aggressiveness completely disappeared around children and people he considered to be part of his pack. Twice he fought with neighbor dogs who intruded into our yard. Once I pulled him off before he could do any harm, while the neighbor lady squeaked and banged a plastic ice-cream bucket. The other time he got some serious bites in on the intruder without so much as taking a scratch himself. That last time was earlier this year, just before my parents went on a trip and we had to confine him indoors because he drew blood in a fight. I ended up going over to the parents' house with Katie to assemble a kennel in the garage and line it with fresh wood chips.

Despite his size (at his peak he could easily put his front paws on my shoulders while looking over my head, and he outweighed me throughout my high school years) I think he always considered himself a lapdog, always wanting to get and give a little more attention and always - always wanting to be just a little closer to the person who was petting him.

Because of his breed, Kodi's favorite time of year was the winter. He absolutely loved the cold - the only time his heavy coat truly came in handy - and especially enjoyed rolling around in fresh snow. During the summers we had to brush him, leaving thick drifts of shed fur that brought back memories of the snow he so enjoyed.

Last night Kodi died.

He was getting old and had a hard time moving his considerable bulk around. Last week, you might recall that I had to dig him out from under the deck. I told Cara that he seemed to be having a rough go of it then (in addition to being trapped under the deck, I mean). I suppose we've known for a while that he not long for this world. A few days ago Jon helped my dad remove a collar that had chaffed some sores into Kodi's neck. Not long afterward I spoke to my dad who mentioned that he had come across Kodi who seemed unresponsive, but when he went over to him he perked back up. That should have been a clue.

I suppose it is normal to feel regrets at this point. Regrets that I didn't play with him more when I had the chance. Regrets that I didn't raise him better when he was young. Regrets that I sometimes didn't like the work it took to take care of him. Regrets that he didn't get to see one more winter. Regrets that I didn't take more pictures of him.

We're going to take him out to my grandparents' tonight and bury him there.

Rest easy, old man. Rest easy.
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