Bryan’s first pet was a Golden Retriever pup named Amber.
She was the runt of the litter but was our pick from the start. Amber was also my first dog. The parakeets we owned when I was a child were no comparison with this sweet girl. Her littermate sister was famous in her day – Kate starred as the well-know “Brinkley” from the movie “You’ve Got Mail”.
When we first got Amber, she had some, shall I say delicately, digestive issues. I bundled the kids into the car and Bryan, age 8, had to try to corral and calm the wiggly puppy on our way to the vet. I could hear the struggle going on in the back seat between boy and dog. Little sister Amy also tried her best, but was tethered to her car seat.
And, then, a little voice began emanate from behind me. Bryan was singing to Amber to calm her. It was a song he had learned in Cherub Choir, “When I am Afraid I will Trust in You”. It had it’s desired effect in quieting the dog, the children and the anxious driver.
Bryan and Amber became fast friends. What better friend to have – a dog who loves unconditionally and who doesn’t care if your speech and thoughts are slow. There is no judgement.
Our next pet was an orange tabby named Thomas Cat. An SPCA special. He was, of course, quite indifferent to Bryan’s advances. Sometimes he was a Snuggle Bug. Sometimes he was his Aloof Kitty Self.
When dear Amber passed away a few weeks shy of her sixteenth birthday, we felt such a profound loss that we got another Golden pup several months later. This little gal was quite the handful when compared to docile Amber. We named her Coda (a musical term meaning “exciting tail ending”). She was exciting, all right, but she quickly became another wonderful companion to Bryan. After Bryan moved into his apartment almost ten years ago, Coda is the first one who runs to greet him with her whole butt and tail wagging when Bryan comes here to visit. Bryan, likewise, always looks to her first with a loud cry of “CODA”!
Now my heart is heavy. A few weeks ago Coda’s right hip became so painful, that she can barely limp outside or get up from the floor. Bryan hasn’t seen her in this condition yet. It will break his heart as it does ours. Coda is almost fourteen, but still has that indominable spirit lurking beneath the pain.
I am hoping that new drugs will ease her discomfort, but am also realistic. When the time comes – sooner rather than later – I hope that Bryan will remember the wonderful times of unconditional love and not dwell on the sadness. I hope we can do the same.