When Jane and I got married I soon discovered I wasn’t only marrying her, but also her two Alaskan Malamutes and two white cats. It was a package deal.
I was instantly impressed with her dedication to her animals. She gets up at 4 a.m. to brush, feed, and walk the dogs despite weather conditions. This is all done before she eats breakfast or showers. I still marvel at the TLC she lavishes on them. I even hope that if I die before she does that maybe I can come back as one of her beloved dogs. I want a taste of Camp Jane … Minus the required diet of Iams.
The fact that Jane referred to Kodiak as “Momma’s Little Sugar” made it pretty obvious he was the chosen one. In fact, he’s so spoiled that I began calling him Little Lord Fauntleroy.
By the time I entered Kodiak’s life, he was middle-aged and much slower than Kalvin, his brother Malamute. He’d already gone though hip replacement surgery and “wasn’t the dog he once was.” Jane told stories of how cute he was as a puppy and how he valiantly climbed up Little Devil’s Tower and Harney Peak. Never having the chance to see the “young” Kodiak mirrored how I felt while reading Lonesome Dove and experienced Texas Ranger’s Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call well past their prime.
Walking with Kodiak was an anaerobic journey including more stops than Cher has had farewell tours. He continually lagged behind the pack and much time was spent waiting for “He who walks at his own pace.” The waiting game instantly transformed into a game of chase once we turned around. Mr. Pokey always had enough left in the tank to turn on the turbo jets and bee-line back home or to the car. He also possesses an internal GPS that always led him back to the original destination. This is good except for the time he got lost at Aunt Patty’s when the back door to the garage shut and our wondrous Malamute got locked in. It didn’t matter that the full-sized double garage door was open in the front. Leaving that way wasn’t an option in Fauntleroy’s world.
One time while traveling to the Milwaukee area we decided to stop at a Dairy Queen for a treat. In our family this entails getting ice cream for everyone (dogs included). Our middle son, Tyrel, was feeding both dogs in the back of our SUV. Instead of putting the dish down for them to lick out of, he fed it to them with a long Peanut Buster Parfait spoon. Suddenly Tyrel turned around revealing his ghostly white face. “Kodiak ate the spoon.”
Sure enough he had swallowed the whole spoon in an attempt to stop Kalvin from getting any. The emergency vet calmed us down by explaining that it should come out of one end or the other within a day or two. The only time to worry would be if he began vomiting blood. Needless to say we followed Kodiak around for the next few days but never saw the spoon. After a week we figured his stomach acid must have broken it down and we were in the clear.
One year to the day that he swallowed the spoon Jane called to me while doing her early morning dog grooming.
“Guess who threw up?” She asked. In a house with that many animals there’s no sure answer here. “Who?” I asked.
She then showed me the red DQ spoon she’d been hiding behind her back. There wasn’t a single scratch on it. It looked so new that neither of us could believe it had been inide him for an entire year, but we had non-biodegradable proof that it had been. From that point on it was agreed upon that he ate all ice cream directly from the dish.
I find it hard to believe that it’s already been a month since we put Kodiak to sleep. His tired body had battled cancer long enough. His time had come. I dedicate this installment of the column to him. We miss you Kodiak!
I think I’m going to go to Dairy Queen in his memory. Don’t worry; I’ll be careful with the spoon.
Chad Filley is a stand up comedian from East Central Minnesota. You can see a listing of his upcoming shows on his website, www.chadfilley.com.