Starr's Mill and Lake, Peachtree City, GA


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"When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say   
goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason:  They bring so much joy and
optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude."
~ W. Bruce Cameron, screenwriter, producer, speaker, and author of
several books, including one of our favorites, A Dog's Purpose

We had to say goodbye to our lovable, athletic black Labrador retriever, Cody, one week ago. He was 15 years, 8 months old, which is well over 100 in human years for a large dog. Even though he exceeded our expectations for longevity by several years, it was still painful to let him go.

Our vet warned us about 18 months ago that a nerve dysfunction he'd recently developed would probably be what ended Cody's life. Each day since then has been a gift to have our boy around:

Unknown to me, Jim read a posthumous "letter from a pet" on the internet last year, which gave him the inspiration to pen this poignant "letter from Cody." He gave it to me the very sad day we had Cody euthanized.

I cry every time I read it. So does Jim, but we also smile when we remember all the cool things we did with Cody, laugh about some of the funny things he did, and marvel at his trust and athleticism and easy-going demeanor.

So make yourself comfortable, grab a tissue or two, and enjoy Cody's letter to his favorite people and pups:


Momma, Daddy, Casey, and Holly,

I just want you all to know how happy I am to be in doggy heaven. It is great up here!

(Non Sequitur cartoon by Wiley Miller, 10-4-18)

My legs work fine, and I only go to the bathroom outdoors just like I used to, before I got real old.

Also, I can hear again! The other barking dogs here are all very friendly, and once in a while I even bark back at them. It feels real good to bark and run again.

The views are spectacular. I can see all of the places weíve traveled from Alaska to Florida, and Maine to California, and all the places weíve lived. Iíve seen more and Iíve hiked more miles and climbed more mountains than any dog in the world.

I'm looking down at Mom from the top of Flat Top Mountain near 
Anchorage, AK after a fun scramble to the top.  (Age 9, June 22, 2012)
I got to spend two summers in Alaska; I was 12 on the second trip.

Above and below:  Dad, Casey, and I are enjoying the ocean breeze on a cliff along the
Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada. May I go swimming, please?? (Age 11, Aug. 12, 2014)

At the end of my time with you, I could not see the yard or anything very clearly, and I had trouble hearing you when you called my name.

My mind is inquisitive again now, too. I am sticking my nose in all the new nooks and crannies here, and chasing moles again.

Exploring used to be a big part of my life. Remember me tugging you in all directions on our walks, except for the last year or so? And I like being real mobile, nimble on all four feet, again.

I *loved* running in snow!!!

I want to thank the whole family for taking care of me for almost 16 great years.

You may think you chose me years ago at the kennel, but that is not quite right. You see, I selected you guys, not the other way around, because I knew you were a great family that would take really good care of me!

When I was only five weeks old a really nice man and woman came to my house in  
Oregon to visit my birth mama, littermates, and me. I really liked them, so I ran real fast
to give the lady some kisses before my brothers and sisters got there!  (April, 2003)

I really liked the man, too, and he decided he wanted to be my adoptive Daddy. 
He introduced me to a big yellow dog named Tater who would become my adopted
sister. The man and woman left after a while, but they came back a week later 
when I was old enough to ride to their home in Montana. What a great day!

And did you ever take really good care of me!! Especially you, Momma. I loved rolling around on my back when we sat on the floor together. You were the one who usually put my food in my bowl and took care of my water, too. That is all I ever really needed. And you kept the bowls clean, because you knew that was important to me.

You were my very best special friend. Thanks. You took me to the vet for my check ups and doctor visits when I was sick. Remember in Alaska when I couldnít walk? You nursed me through that, too.

Remember the times you laughed at me when I did something silly on purpose,


and the times you didn't laugh (when you could have) because you felt sorry for me?

You knew how stupid I felt walking around with that lamp shade on my head after a couple of surgeries and you were able to comfort me through those difficult times.

  I was 10 when I had a cancerous spot removed from my belly.
I sure wanted to lick those sutures after surgery because they itched!

I loved the affection shown to me by Tater, Casey, and especially Holly.

I felt like their brother, except I liked them so much I could never fight with them like some siblings do sometimes. I just tried to return their affection to thank them for cuddling with me on the floor, sharing toys, chasing sticks together, and stuff like that.

When I was just a little squirt, Tater let me climb all over her.  (May, 2003)

I remembered how good a big sister Tater was to me so when baby Casey (above) and Holly (below)
chose our family nine and fourteen years later, I did my best to be a good big brother to them, too. 
(October, 2012 and July, 2017)

I know they loved me so much, even when I got old and even though I could not show them the attention the way I did when I was younger and full of life. 

But you, Momma, meant the most to me because you did the most for me and we spent the most time together. You really favored me with so much care and love for all those years.

Mom always let me sniff things when we were running or hiking together. I was as
distracted by enticing scents as she was by pretty flowers and magnificent scenery.
(Age 8, Alaska Basin, west side of the Teton Range in Wyoming, 9-3-11)

I remember when I was young and you and I hiked the AT together. Wasnít that fun? It was a little scary crossing those raging streams in Maine, but we made it didnít we?

How many thousands of times did you open or close a door to let me in or out? How many bazillion hairs did you sweep up? How many hours did you spend vacuuming? Thank you so much.

I know Daddy loved me, too. I remember the hike we did between Hope Pass and Columbine. Even though I was still pretty young then, he had to lift me over those boulders. He spent a lot of time with me, too, and I love him for it.

Running with Mom and Dad along the Gulf Coast at Mustang Island, TX when I was 5  (Jan. 27, 2009)

I liked the mountains better, though, because there were creeks, lakes, and snow to jump in up there.
I was 3 when we all went running together on the Bighorn Mtn. Wild & Scenic course in June, 2006.

There is NO WAY I could possibly thank all of you enough for the help and joy you gave to me during our years together.

I was sorry I had to go when I did, but I was so old. I did not want to be a burden any more. I had zero energy and it scared me when I couldnít find Momma. It was definitely time. I really was not happy at the end, and now I am happy again.

I liked to be close to Mom (even when I was younger)
so she always kept a doggie bed for me near her desk.

Remember me with a smile on my face because that is the way I remember you all. I have a big smile on my face now.

My ears are sometimes floppy and sometimes (as you would often say when I was alert) "precious." I get dog bones any time I want. My head is way out the window when I go riding around with my furry pals. There are no fences or leashes here. I can run and go for walks often. Life is great again!

It really was time for me to go, and I thank you for your help in making it dignified and easy.

I love you, Momma and Dad and Casey and Holly, and always will.



Next entry:  Jim is back in the ultra-running (walking!) game again

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup

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© 2018 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil