Good boy, Cody, good boy

The room where my husband Mark and I wait with our dog Cody is sterile and smells like antiseptic. It never bothered me before, but now the bare beige walls and steel table seem harsh and mean.

We sit in silence on the hard wooden bench. We've discussed every possibility. Everything's been tried and nothing worked. I've worn my glasses for a month now. My contacts get too fogged up when I cry.

I scan my phone while Mark sits with his elbows on his knees, watching our dog. Cody, our 4-year old husky, sits patiently by the back door. Happy in his dog innocence, looking forward to seeing his doctor and eating a liver treat, unaware that this is the last time he will pass through this door or any other.

I think of a friend whose dog ran through an errant open door, into the street and underneath a car. Gone, just like that. I look at Cody and realize that despite all our love, our caution and care, our dogs can be gone in an instant. The truth, dogs don't live long enough. And when they leave, they break our hearts.

This story began when Cody went to the vet for a teeth cleaning, months earlier. I planned to pick him up at 4:30 p.m., so when my phone rang at 10:30 a.m. and it was the vet, I knew something was wrong. And just like that Mark and I became experts on high creatinine and BUN levels signaling kidney failure.

We asked the vet to do everything she could for Cody. He had his kidneys flushed, ate special foods and took his meds. His levels went down - so our hopes went up.

A month later, out on a walk with Cody, he went one block and turned toward home. I didn't need a vet to tell me what was happening.

So, Cody went back to his doctor. As we walked through the front door, he received a hearty welcome from the employees. Everyone knew Cody. But I didn't want them to. I wanted him to be the anonymous healthy dog who comes in once a year for shots.

That night we received Cody's test results. His kidneys were shutting down permanently.

So here we are, back at the vet. She assures us we are making the right decision. But when it comes to the final goodbye, I can't do it. Mark hugs him, tells him he is a very good boy. But Cody goes through the back door alone.

Later, I promise myself, I'll never do that to another dog. I'll go, too. Even if it's much too soon.

- Lisa Seplak of Hinsdale is a contributing

columnist. Readers

can email her at

[email protected].