CARRIER DECK and PRAIRIE WOLF DOG PARK

This is me landing on My Dad's bed...just kidding.

This is me landing on My Dad’s bed…just kidding.

HEY!!!  (this is magic)  I feel like chewing on the keys…but My Dad will know that it was me…better not.  My Dad calls me an F-18 Hornet fighter jet.  Why?  I am VERY fast and when I run into the bedroom, airborne, I land on My Dad’s king-size bed at full speed…and stop immediately!  I can do this over and over and over at night…just before lights out.  My Dad seems very amused by this activity.

Tuesday night, Brandy, my next door neighbor, stopped by for some drinks and snacks.  Brandy is a Border collie mix, she outweighs me, but she LOVES me…she lets me kiss her, smell her ears, and we wrestle.  She gets me so romantic, my eyes glow this funny green.

Brandy and me getting ready to wrestle.

Brandy and me getting ready to wrestle.

Today, My Dad took me to Prairie Wolf Dog Park, just off Waukegan Road in Lake Forest.  I have fun with all dogs and all people.  I had a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, and a Belgian Shepherd chasing me today.  I get very forgetful when I am playing with other dogs and their humans…I wander away…but the park is fenced-in and it is easy for My Dad to find me.

Dog Park.....this is THE DOG PARK!!!

Dog Park…..this is THE DOG PARK!!!

HEY!  WE'RE GOING TO PLAY...OK?

HEY! WE’RE GOING TO PLAY…OK?

OK, I will be the Border collie and you be the sheep...OK?

OK, I will be the Border collie and you be the sheep…OK?

Frisbee?  What is a Frisbee?

Frisbee? What is a Frisbee?

Sprinting, dodging, chasing, fleeing, wrestling....all in the name of fun!  Time for a drink!

Sprinting, dodging, chasing, fleeing, wrestling….all in the name of fun! Time for a drink!

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THE RETURN HOME

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“Do you want to take Cody home today?”

For a moment, the question caught me off guard.  I had stopped by the vet with Magic to drop off some paperwork on his October heartworm test in Quincy, Illinois, drop off a “sample,” and check on Magic’s weight.

“Yes, Cody will be going home today…”

“OK, we just want to make sure you’re OK, it hasn’t been too long, we know it can still be painful.”

And we waited about 15 minutes for the examination room with the scale to become available.

There is another examination room behind the cashier counter and that room is used only for one activity.  I know that room.  Cody, on January 8th, Tyler in 2003, and other pets of my past have been in that room with me.  There is a large framed print on the west wall entitled, His Master’s Bed…a white Labrador sound asleep on a large bed, a window looking out on a pastoral scene, curtains blowing gently, very peaceful.

A woman, about my age, with curly reddish blond hair stepped out of that room.  She was in full grief, holding an orange cloth over her eyes…sobbing.  I know that room.  I wanted to comfort her but she moved quickly to one of the open examination rooms and was gone.

A gorgeous Border collie mix came in off-leash with his owner, a woman about 30 wearing Adidas athletic warm-ups and a Chicago Blackhawks hat.  The dog, Homer, was quite a gentleman.  His lower body was white and reddish tan ticking, his upper body was gray, black and white ticking…topped off with a large parallelogram of pure black on his back and left side.  He jumped up on the wooden bench next to his Mom and was very well behaved.

And what about Magic?  Magic always receives high compliments for his handsomeness – “my o my what a gorgeous boy, oh’ that dog is gorgeous, oh he is beautiful.  I am so lucky.  And Magic was very good, very respectful.  Just a look and he sits…amazing how that communication works between man and dog.

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Magic weighed in at 46.2 pounds.  I know that Kathy P. and the good-hearted volunteers from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue (GLBCR) will be thrilled with Magic’s weight – he weighed only 33 when he came into rescue.

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Magic’s progress with obedience, behavior, learning and sweetness has been a joy to watch.  I have increased his off-leash time outside and he really gets it…responds immediately to “Come here, Magic.”  He pays attention, a very sharp boy!  An EXTREMELY sweet boy!

If I have one regret with Cody, I did not drive him out to Oregon to spend time with me on the beautiful beaches, the paths, the pine forests, the cool air, the great people of the area around Cannon Beach.  I believe that a beach in Oregon, the Pacific ocean to to west and fog-shrouded pines to the east, the surf, people with their happy dogs, running free will be a perfect final resting place.  Magic and I will be making the drive in summer…sometime…

“Don’t forget Cody!”

A simple square box, black, Cody (January 8th 2015).  Within, is a brass metal can and Cody’s paw print in plaster.

-Cody and Magic’s Dad

MAGIC’S FIRST POST: CONVERSATION WITH CODY, “YOU’RE JUST PERFECT”

Dad, stop pressuring me…I’m thinking.  Yes, Cody and I communicated quite often…Cody knew my role, the purpose of my adoption in December…Cody was OK with this…and that night he came up next to you, put his head on your chest, he told me he was going to do that.  Cody knew that I would help you and he knew it was his time to cross the bridge.  I’m thinking, give me a moment…

Cody had a lot to tell me...I want to get it right...

Cody had a lot to tell me…I want to get it right…

Cody felt bad that he wasn’t consulted when I was adopted, but he figured it out…he was very intuitive, and he said that he could tell that I am very intuitive and understanding.  Cody said that our intelligence and sense of intuition is an important part of being a Border collie…that we should embrace that aspect of the breed and never forget it…

Cody – “Do you know why you are here, do you know why Kathy gave you up, gave you to Our Dad?”

Magic – “You’re making this sound scary.  Is this my forever home?  I like it here, I like you, I like Our Dad.  I heard Kathy and Our Dad repeating the words ‘JUST PERFECT.’  What does that mean?  Just Perfect for what?

Cody – “Step in closer here, see my collar?  My collar and my dog tags say something very special, not many dogs are allowed to wear this collar, not many dogs wear these dog tags…this collar and the tags say THERAPY DOG…that you are even considered to become a THERAPY DOG is very special…just being here with me and with Our Dad means that you are going have a very special life…meet a lot of people, work with children, meet people who are sick, meet people who are very afraid of dogs, go everywhere in the Scion with Our Dad, and you will get HAMBURGERS sometimes – two hamburgers every time you stop to get hamburgers.  You will be welcomed into hotels, libraries, hospitals, stay overnight in hotels, people will always love you and pet you and talk to you, you will always be treated as a dear, long-lost, friend.”

Magic – “So, after Dad let’s you cross the bridge, can I wear your collar?”

Cody – “No.  This is my collar, and Our Dad would never let another dog wear my collar.  You will earn your collar through learning, hard work, and being tested.  You MUST pay attention to Our Dad, it is most important to always stay close to Our Dad, you can NEVER run away, always stay close to him, watch him always, watch his hands, watch his eyes, so, you always know what he wants you to do.  Sometimes, watching Our Dad and listening to Our Dad may keep you out of danger, OK?”

Magic – “Yes…that is what ‘JUST PERFECT’ means…that my destiny after being rescued in Quincy, IL was to be a THERAPY DOG?”

Cody – “Yes, yes, yes…you are JUST PERFECT to be a THERAPY DOG…it is important you understand what you are going to be, that you will be a working dog, you will have many jobs, you will be very busy…and that is good for you, because you are a Border collie.”

Magic – “A job, training, tests, spending time with people and other THERAPY DOGS, going bye-bye in the car…anything else?”

Cody – “Can you take over my blog? You will have a lot of things to talk about.”

Magic – “Yes, of course, it will be an honor…”

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THE CREATION OF NEW BEGINNINGS

Magic now understands "McDonald's hamburgers."

Magic now understands “McDonald’s hamburgers.”

Magic is to my left, sleeping soundly.  His inky-black upper body coat contrasted by the silver, white, gray, and black dappling and ticking of the underside is very striking, very handsome.   The two of us have had an activity-filled morning that included a drive to Roselle (to make some investigative inquiries), shopping at Target and enjoying an extended walk that included crossing paths with Kaya, a 65 pound Huskie-German Shepherd mix who LOVES Magic.  We are experiencing a thaw day here in the Chicago area and Magic and Kaya had some off-leash time to chase and wrestle.  Magic has a very sweet demeanor with all people and all dogs.  He transmits something…a force, an aura, a smell, something spiritual, that other dogs sense immediately, and the result is the play-position followed by play.  Magic is very respectful, very good-hearted about an equality to give and take, a balance of dominant and submissive.

Bright sun, a breeze from the southwest and a balmy mid 40’s means it is a very good day to bring a bucket of warm water and a sponge to the parking lot to rinse the road salt build-up from the glass of the Scion xB.

The bonding process with Magic has made significant headway since last Thursday, January 8th, when Cody crossed the bridge. I include him with all activities, meals, sleeping, car rides, meeting people, meeting other dogs.  Training, mentoring, practicing, praising, learning, and repetition is a continual and very entertaining process.  His desire to please, to interact, to provide affection is very strong.  His fur and coat is showing thickness and luster; his undercoat is coming in.  His urge to pull and lunge at moving vehicles is almost gone, and all it took was a consistent “NOOO” in a low voice whenever a vehicle appeared.  When he began to IGNORE cars during our walks last weekend, I realized that Border collies must think about their training.  I’ve introduced him, very carefully, to being in off-leash situations:  Moving from the Scion xB to our entry door, moving from the entry door to the hatchback of the Scion xB, playing with other dogs, visiting with people who come up to the car.  Magic appears to understand the concept of staying close to me, listening to commands, and paying attention.

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Playing in the snow with Brandy

Playing in the snow with Brandy

PEOPLE WHO LOVE DOGS

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The comments made by followers of Cody’s blog, my friends from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue (GLBCR), and Facebook friends have been emotional, supportive and loving.  One of my very good soccer referee friends sent me flowers and with Cody’s collar and picture, I have a makeshift memorial.  It does provide comfort and Magic is very interested in the smell of the flowers.

As all of you know, four weeks ago, I adopted a young male Border Collie from GLBCR whose new name is MAGIC.  While the higher-ups at at GLBCR were fully aware that I was interested in adopting another Border Collie, they were also fully aware that my next Border Collie would be a working Therapy Dog.  An appropriate Border Collie (ASH) that was available in the summer became unavailable because that Border Collie had worked his ‘magic’ on the man who was baby-sitting him for five days.  The baby-sitter became the adopter – a happy ending for the dog, ASH, and for GLBCR.

In September, sometime, a young male Border Collie was picked up as a stray by the Adams County (Quincy, IL) Humane Society.  GLBCR was contacted by Adams County and this young boy was rescued by GLBCR and transported to Crown Point, IN to be fostered by Kathy P., a foster-mom in Crown Point, IN.  Kathy P. recognized this dog’s personality and potential and contacted me.  I met this dog on Saturday, 22 November and immediately fell in love with him, as does everyone who meets him.  So, a stray in Quincy, IL ends up with Tom and Cody…what are the odds?  The passing of Cody, my full time companion for 11 years, has been an emotional trauma.  Without this young Border Collie, MAGIC, fostered by Kathy P., I’d be in serious trouble.  Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue is one of hundreds of organizations dedicated to rescuing and re-homing dogs.  I applaud the organization, their amazing volunteers, and their mission…AMAZING PEOPLE ALL!  Thank you for finding another Border Collie for me!

Magic and Cody the day before Cody crossed the bridge.  They were becoming very good friend and sleeping partners.

Magic and Cody the day before Cody crossed the bridge. They were becoming very good friends and sleeping partners.

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THE PASSING OF A THERAPY DOG…GOD SPEED TO YOU, CODY

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2 Cody15DEC 001

Cody came into my life in January and he has passed from my life in January.  He was somewhere around 13 years of age.  When I adopted him from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue, he was around two years of age.  For those of you who follow Cody’s blog, his stories are true and accurate.  CHILDREN READING TO ME and FEAR OF DOGS CLASS merely scratch the surface of his amazing and wonderful life.  With friends and family, I often referred to working with this Border Collie as, “Walking in with a Rock Star.”  His gorgeous markings coupled with an amazingly affectionate, and curious demeanor always made him a fan favorite.  In his three years of working The Fear of Dogs program, he worked with children who had been traumatized by dogs, and there were many who chose him to work with, to brush, to play with, to hug.  Cody was a VERY steady performer and an absolute joy to work with.  Unless, of course, a UPS, FEDEX, or U.S. Mail truck made an appearance.

Cody’s final two assignments were on October 11th at an Assisted Living Facility in Lake Zurich and on December 1st at a Facility for Developmentally Disabled Adults.  He was loved on, petted, and tears fell on his mostly white rough coat.  He looked people in the eye and let them know that he loved them.

For those of you who have euthanised a beloved pet or know that this event will be approaching in the near future, it isn’t the moment the drugs enter your pet’s body that carries the most anguish; it is hours and days of anguish and tears that lead up to your decision.  For me, that moment of decision was this afternoon at 3:40 p.m. when Cody and I were outside in the blowing snow.  He couldn’t walk, he was losing the use of his rear legs.  I just could not bear to watch this gorgeous animal struggle in the falling snow, looking at me,  “I’m sorry, Dad.”

I made the telephone call to the vet and set a 5:00 p.m. appointment.  They promised a team would be ready for Cody’s crossing.  Cody has always been eager to go for a ride in the car and this moment was no different.  Did the repeated failure of his rear legs from our entry door to the Scion make this decision easier for me?  I’d have to say, yes, without a doubt.  Cody, Magic, and I stopped at McDonald’s for some hamburgers.  Cody did have an appetite, and there was comfort in his enjoying of the burgers.  And yes, he did bark in the car at every delivery truck he saw.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Cody may have given me permission to cross the bridge.  Last night, just before midnight, Cody was up next to me, placing his gorgeous head on my chest.  He has NEVER done that in the past, once he was ready for sleep, he pretty much stayed in his spot at the bottom of the bed on “his side.”  I asked him if he was trying to tell me that he was “ready.”  I knew that whatever arthritis, dysplasia, discomfort, pain, he had in his body would not be experiencing a miracle improvement.

Without a doubt, the adoption from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue of Magic on December 6th has provided me with a buffer  in the form of another smart, sensitive, and intuitive Border Collie..  The thought of being able to reach over with my hand – anywhere – and not have a dog to love on was a burden I did not want to experience.  Magic now provides this comfort and companionship.

During the drive home from Preiser Animal Hospital, I had a long talk with Magic.  He will be continuing Cody’s work on codemanbc.com.

And, heartfelt thanks to Dr. Kristine Preiser and vet-tech Jamie for their compassion and gentleness with Cody, Magic and me.

CONTEMPLATION, REFLECTION, DELIBERATION

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When I began this blog last February, I knew in my heart that in some ways I was creating Cody’s obituary, that the reminiscing, memories of him, stories about him, were a eulogy, a testament to his unique and endearing qualities as a Therapy Dog.  I am now struggling with the last installment of this dedication.  Today and the last several days have had bone-chilling cold, snow, wind.  And the maintenance people,in their infinite wisdom,  have liberally over-salted the sidewalks here at Village Green resulting in super-cooled slush.  For the dogs of the residents, this cookie-dough consistency slush quickly results in raised paws and limping.  I have been internally cursing this alteration of the sidewalk from 1.5 inches of benign snow, easy to walk to walk on, to a pad-chilling nightmare for dogs and their owners.  Our walks now start out the back slider, moving directly onto the concrete patio and snow-covered grass. Coincidentally, Cody started showing an inability to walk when he is outside…rear legs caving in, followed by Cody laying in the snow looking at me.  This started occuring several weeks ago, so I am seeing a gradual progression of this degeneration issue.  My dog prior to Cody, Tyler, was a German Shepherd – Springer Spaniel mix – he had also developed problems with his rear legs.  Euthanizing him was very tough, but life for him had become untenable.  Yesterday, with Cody, a lot of cajoling, pleading, lifting, and squeaking of toys was necessary to get him moving.  He went almost ten hours without urinating, twelve hours without a bowel movement.  Last night, during a walk around 9:30 p.m., Cody took care of both.  It is a relief when you can go to bed knowing your dogs are empty.  It was lights out at 10:15 p.m.  Cody was in his usual spot against the bolster of pillows at the end of the bed – he likes his space.  Shortly after midnight, I awoke to Cody’s head across my chest, his face up close to mine.  He had never done this before during the night.  With his unique powers of intuition, was he aware of my grief, my indecision?  Was he giving me permission to end his life?  I held him, petted him, talked to him.  I told him that I am willing to end his discomfort, his pain, his degeneration.  And during this conversation he seamlessly transitioned into his role as a Therapy Dog, laying his head and neck across my thigh, placing the right paw on my knee.

This morning, I am hanging in doubt and indecision.  Cody barked to be taken off the bed, barked for a BusyBone, had a meal, drank water and has been my shadow – really no major changes with his behavior of the last year.  But is it the frequent inability to go outside and take care of business, or, knowing in my heart that he is uncomfortable?  The clock is ticking…

LET’S TALK ABOUT EARS…

For lovers of the breed, I encourage a visit to the Border Collie Museum (www.bordercolliemuseum.org).  If you are a user of Facebook, take a look at Texas Sheep Dogs, the gorgeous dogs of Betty Gillis of LaVernia, Texas.  Ticking, split-face, merle, prick ears, flop ears…blah, blah, blah.  What it comes down to is that Border Collies (in general) are not bred for their looks, they are bred for their BRAINS.  Take me, Cody, for example.  Humans have thought that I am a Springer Spaniel, a German Short-haired pointer, and (cringe) a Dalmatian.  Humans are even asking My Dad what kind of dog Magic is.  That suggests that some people were bred for looks and not brains…mmmmmph.

But, back to ears.  Magic has prick ears and sometimes they look big enough to be part of the Early Warning System used to detect ballistic missiles coming in from over the North Pole.  (Yes they do, you BABY…)  What?  Don’t be mean?  He is so sensitive…  OK, I’ll tone it down.  My Dad is threatening to withdraw blog privleges.  My Dad has noticed that some people seem averse to saying hi to Magic.  Mmmm…Magic is inky black and has those prick ears.  From a distance, he looks and sounds VERY imposing, especially when he (thinks) he has seen a squirrel (just a leaf blowing around…sigh).  His silhouette looks like a German Shepard dog.  So do Magic’s ears make him scary looking?

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DOG # 1

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DOG #2

Am I NOT cute?

Ferocious DOG # 3

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DOG # 4

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DOG # 5

Which of the five dogs featured above appear to be the most ferocious looking?  Take your time, look VERY carefully before you make your choice.

Aha!  That is what I thought, too!  The third dog looks the most ferocious.  Must be the ears.  YOU BABY!

Gotta go, My Dad is coming…     -Cody

A COMMON ENEMY IDENTIFIED and PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

I haven’t been groomed since last April and I have a very dense undercoat that served me well this morning in the single digit temperatures.  My Dad was not too happy this morning…long underwear, two hats, three layers on top, a North Face fleece topped off by his Eddie Bauer hooded storm coat… and ski goggles, too.  You can tell that Magic is a baby, he wanted to come back inside after five minutes.  My Dad kept muttering, “I hate winter, I hate winter, I hate winter…”  Six inches of new snow expected for tonight to be followed by temps COLDER than we had today…a high of 9 F.  Oh joy, as My Dad would say.

Magic is discovering the joys of squirrels.  He and I both agree that squirrels require the Border collie reign of terror.  Magic is quite adept at wanting to climb trees to  pursue squirrels, he gives it a very good effort.  Magic becomes HIGHLY agitated with squirrels playing around on the patio.  Barking, growling, standing against the slider.  My Dad always says, “Good boys…”  Magic stays on alert for squirrels and I gladly provide back-up barking and logistical support.

Magic definitely needs some fine-tuning on his recall skills, and that brings us to his first visit to a fenced-in dog park.  At the Prairie Wolf dog park, I am the cranky King of Aloofness…no, I am not going to play with you, step to the side so I can keep an eye on my protege, Magic. Sorry, I’m trying not to chuckle.  Yes, in our apartment, Magic comes when called, he can sit, he can shake, he keeps an eye out for squirrels on the patio, and is very adept at alert barking.  Magic’s behavior at the dog park needs some work.  Every time he ran within earshot, I yelled at him, “Don’t ignore Dad, pay attention, don’t you hear Dad calling you, stop walking away with other humans and their dogs.”  And then he’d walk away with other humans and their dogs.  But I will state that Magic is friendly, very friendly, with all dogs and all people.  Regardless of the dog’s size or breed, he just walks right up.  No timidity in this boy.  No growling, no fear of dogs, no fear of people.  And he is brave, he stands his ground with his ears up and that alert look with those golden eyes.  When other dogs initially become upset with his presence, he is Mr. Persistent.  “OK, you may not like me right now, it’s only been a minute, but I am going to stand here with my tail wagging until you give in, c’mon, I won’t hurt you, c’mon, let’s play.  And he does play….ran ran ran ran ran and even got taken out a couple of times.  But the boy has spirit…he would get right back up, and continue the chase-me, chase-you, games.  This spirit and daring make Magic an excellent back-up to have at home.

In social settings with humans he can be like a politician working the crowd.

“Oh c’mon give me a kiss, oh c’mon give me a hug, can I nibble on your earlobe?”

"Did I ever tell you guys about the high quality of the garbage in Quincy, IL?"

“Did I ever tell you guys about the high quality of  garbage in Quincy, IL?”

"Really?  They said about me on the Internet?"

“Really? I didn’t mean to hit ENTER!  I hit ENTER…ME?”