If you go to the blog posts of January and July 2018 and you will know exactly who I am talking about. They were written last year, but Cody has not disappointed me in any way since. Apart, that is, from one little flaw which at the moment I find difficult to forgive: he turned out not to be immortal.
The cancer in his spleen, or hemangiosarcoma (aka HSA) to give this one its scientific name, may have been there for a while, but it’s in the nature of things that dog cancer signs are spotted later rather than sooner. A dog cannot describe his or her pains and discomforts, and it takes a while for mere humans to realise that the series of seemingly inconsequential little symptoms - such as poorer appetite, less inclination to want to play, occasional lethargy, an increasingly frequent distant look - may amount to something serious when put together. A partial consolation is that it would have made little difference to the outcome whenever it was discovered. HSA (which sounds oddly like a bank) is relentless and all-powerful. While we may not know when it all started, the time between its making itself known and the endgame was cruelly brief. This is starkly obvious in the two photos below. The first was taken in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington on Saturday 14 September, just before I began to suspect something was amiss. The second was taken at home on the morning of his last day on Wednesday 9th October, just twenty-five days later.
When Chris arrived Cody greeted him with enthusiasm, albeit in a weaker way than before. It was almost like old times as he sat with us while we drank a cup of tea and made a fuss of him. Chris suggested we walk to the vet, which was not far away, and as we set off Cody’s tail wagged at the prospect of a walk. We sometimes used to go out into the fields and woods with Chris’s large dogs, and Cody probably assumed we would be meeting them again now. And so he walked contentedly as we made our way to our destination. We stayed with him and he seemed happy, apart from the usual complaining yelp when the needle went in. Then sleep came within two seconds.
While it was certainly a good end, even a happy one, I still wondered if he could have had a little longer if only I’d given the anti-inflammatories a little more time to work. On reflection I suspect that most people in my position have these kind of thoughts. As the days pass, and I can increasingly be sure that he would be dead by now anyway, I can concentrate on thinking about his last happy walk as he looked forward to meeting his friends again in the fields and woods of Suffolk.