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Koda confronts Death

Hi Folks,  Koda has been writing up a storm as he is now 8 years old and in middle age.  I think he must be going through his mid-life crisis.  Here is another piece of his memoirs.  I think this one is quite interesting and gives us a window into a dog’s psyche.

What I know about death

The first time I knew death was when Soona died. I wasn’t really there, but I knew afterwards. Soona was old, and sick. I knew that. And for two weeks Leslie gave her all the attention, and I let her. I was only a year old then, but I knew I had to be quiet now and let Soona and Leslie have their moments together. One day Dennis brought my leash and took me for a walk. That night Soona wasn’t at home and things felt strange.

Koda and Soona just before she died

Koda and Soona just before she died

The next morning, I stood by the sliding glass door. I felt compelled to go outside. Something was shimmering on the patio. Leslie let me out and I went to that spot where the shimmering was and sniffed and sniffed. I smelled Soona there. Leslie said that was where Soona had died yesterday. They had taken her body away before I came home, yet I could still see her there as if she was saying goodbye to me. It might seem like I annoyed her when she was alive, but she really loved me and here she was telling me in spirit.

After Soona died, we moved to Wyoming where we live all the time now.

Koda compares his foot to a wolf track

Koda compares his foot to a wolf track

Winters are the best and I really like the snow and the cold. During my first winter, when I was just at little more than one year old, we spent a lot of time walking in the meadows where all the elk like to graze in the evenings. One afternoon I found a dead coyote. A young man, like me, he’d gotten too bold and had mingled among the elk herd, looking for a meal perhaps. He was kicked in the ribs right there and died. I still didn’t know much about death, but this coyote looked like me and was a lot like me. I sniffed and sniffed him, but really I didn’t want anything to do with that coyote. I like deer and elk when they are dead and I like to chew on their bones, but this dead coyote I didn’t like.

Koda enjoys an elk carcass killed by wolves

Koda enjoys an elk carcass killed by wolves

Many times I’ve run after coyotes. I’m a lot bigger than any coyote. They are wild like wolves, so running after them makes me feel wild and free. Yet this dead coyote reminded me of something I didn’t want to be reminded of. So every time that winter when Leslie came close to his body in the dry grass and snow, I stayed far away.

Living in Wyoming, I’ve seen lots of death, everything from deer, elk, marmots and squirrels (like!), to cougars, wolves, and coyotes (don’t like!), but when I was 5 years old, I had an experience of death that was mighty different. Leslie took me to the desert where we stayed with some friends. I liked Steve and Vicky and they also had a big dog named Maggie. Every day Leslie and I hiked around this desert called Sedona which was sandy and red like me.

Koda in Sedona

Koda in Sedona

One morning, I followed Leslie into a little room Steve used as an office.   I was bored while Leslie and Steve talked. Then I noticed that shimmering again and the special smell–a smell that reminded me of Soona’s death. It was coming from a small table where a man’s wallet sat. The wallet needed something from me. I went over and put my nose on top of the wallet so I could smell what it needed. My mind went still and through my noise I was traveling. The shimmering scent led me to an old man by a bridge on a road of stars. This man told me he didn’t want to cross the bridge. “I’m scared and alone” he told me. He was so nice and I didn’t want to see him afraid. After all, I am a protector. So I went to him, stood by his side, and walked him to the other side of the bridge. It was an easy thing to do, and especially since the bridge appeared like a rainbow in the stars. I liked this place and wanted to explore more, but I knew I couldn’t. The old man turned around, patted me on the head and smiled, then disappeared, just like that. Suddenly I was back in that little room with Steve and Leslie staring at me. They too sensed something had happened. But you know, humans can’t smell like I can, so they had no idea what happened. Apparently I’d been still for many minutes with my nose on that wallet. Then Steve told Leslie ‘That’s my father’s wallet. He died 6 months ago in this house, and had a difficult death.” I guess I helped him cross that bridge and that felt good.

Koda enjoys a view

Koda enjoys a view


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