I’m a dog person and always have been.
Over the years, I’ve developed an appreciation for cats, but I’m just drawn to the exuberance, loyalty, and affection of dogs.
Despite all of my brothers and I begging my parents for a dog for as long as I can remember, our pleas went largely unheeded until I was just starting high school.
Now that I’m a mother, I can understand. Even though I still love dogs (as my own mom does), I’m very aware of the added mess and chaos every additional warm body brings into a home.
Back then, though, I was young and carefree. Sandy, muddy, shedding dogs didn’t phase me.
The extra poop to clean up and necessary gear to lug around were no big deal.
When we went to pick out Cobi as an early Christmas present, I was the happiest girl alive.
He was adorable, of course, but also a little bit of a terror to have around for the first year.
When we first brought him home, he barked all night and smelled like a farm. He yipped and nipped and knocked things down. He got into trashcans, peed on the carpet, and chewed on the cheese slicer every time we left the house.
He once ate an entire bag of chocolate kisses, foil and all. He threw up on the floor, cleared food off of the countertops, knocked down small children with his enthusiastic greeting (or just with his tail!).
On one memorable occasion, we had shut him in a large (tiled) bathroom for the afternoon with food and water and when we returned we found a very happy, “muddy” puppy and every inch of the bathroom was covered in his poop.
But in all fairness, I was no picnic myself. My parents were experiencing the rollercoaster ride of a teenage girl after having three boys and I’m sure Cobi’s antics were barely a blip on the radar.
As we both grew up, he mellowed out and with consistent training became the best dog I’ve ever known. He was loyal, affectionate, patient, forgiving, empathetic (I was a teenager, remember? Who else could truly understand my daily drama?)
He slept every night in my parents’ bedroom but the night before I left for college, he padded into my room and settled onto my bed and didn’t move until morning.
I remember coming back from a frustrating soccer game one day. I was covered with mud and it was pouring rain but I was so stir crazy I had to get out of the house. I ran Cobi over to a park and threw balls for him on the muddy field until he was as exhausted as I was and then we laid down on the grass together and I buried my face in his fur and cried and the rain came down on us. Patient as ever, he lay there until I was ready to go home and I felt 100% better when we walked in the door.
On every return home trip from college, his welcome was the most anticipated. There’s truly nothing like the wriggling, barking, snuffling, sighing, leaning, licking, mad-dashing around to make you feel at home.
The Three Yellows
Over the years, two of my brothers bought yellow lab puppies of their own and Cobi kept up with them and oversaw their training. 😉
They were in their element at the beach, chasing things in the waves.
Enter the Grands
He was dubbed “Nanny Dog” when my first niece and nephew were born and earned the title as he saw 8 more grandchildren born into the family over the next five years. He accepted each new bundle completely, without question.
He patiently endured babies pulling up on him, exploring his tail and teeth and toes. He kept watch on everyone at all times, whining and barking when something was amiss, and was an anxious observer of all tickling and tossing. He preferred all children to have their feet on the ground. 🙂
Even now as I review pictures, it melts my heart to see him positioned in the background so often, overseeing the kids play.
(Mackenzie, 1 1/2)
The Balance of Power Shifts
He kept his mischievous streak and it deepened in later years as he realized how totally he was adored by his people. He began staging “sit down strikes” on street corners to passively oppose the direction a walk was taking. He would sit very calmly but insistently until we changed our mind to agree with his, then would happily trot alongside us with the leash on, pretending we were really the ones walking him.
He had a condition that caused the growth of fatty tumors all over his body and with his quickly whitening face, earned the nickname “Old Lumpy” as well as extra attention from his growing crowd of admirers.
A staple at SmugMug Headquarters, he knew when to hit up the chef for choice tidbits and whose offices contained treat stashes.
Thanks to my mom’s frequent and friendly jaunts to various parks, half the neighborhood knew and loved Cobi. One man, knowing Cobi’s fondness for large sticks to chase and carry around at the beach, shaped a whole bundle of such sticks for his stash:
As Cobi’s health deteriorated, he used his rumored deafness to best advantage by selectively ignoring any commands he didn’t care to follow, but never missing the crinkle of the bag of rawhide chews, or the “click” of a can of dog food opening.
He played his cards well and his final months were spent dining on only the most succulent of offerings and turning up his nose at anything that didn’t strike his fancy on that day. He spent more than a decade downing kibble without complaint but by the end, My mom would recount on the phone to me how many bites of duck and goose pate she had managed to talk him into eating that morning. I would smile knowingly, imagining Cobi inwardly rejoicing over the drastic improvement in cuisine.
Moment of the Week – December 1st, 2011
Although I knew Cobi’s months were numbered, my heart sank when I started to receive a stream of texts from family members letting me know things had taken a turn for the worse and Cobi was going to be put to sleep that same morning.
Living on the other side of the country now, I don’t think his loss will completely sink in until my next trip back home. Then, I’ll discover that nobody will come tearing out to meet me, and “whoofle snort” and sneeze in excitement. Cobi won’t be there to lean on me affectionately until I fall down, and push his way between my legs so I can better scratch the spot on his back, just above his tail.
I’ll open a jar of peanut butter without the sound of paws thundering down the stairs. I’ll go to sleep in my old bed and nobody will nudge my door open to check on me.
I’ll come back from exercising and grab a drink in the kitchen without having a dog following me, trying to lick the sweat off the backs of my knees.
I’ll be able to sit on his spot on the couch without him staring me down, shifting from foot to foot and whining pitifully until I scoot over.
Caitlyn and our future babies won’t remember being watched over by Nanny Dog. They’ll have to figure out what “soft” means without carefully fingering Cobi’s silky ears. They’ll be tickled mercilessly and flipped upside down without anyone sounding the alarm in their behalf.
They won’t have the experience of burying their woes in his fur or romping at the park with him.
But I’ll always be glad I did.
Goodbye, Sweet Cobes.