Herbert thought Cody had a vocabulary of about forty words. When he heard that Julia was coming home for Christmas vacation, the dog went to the front door and sat down. Julia had been in college for several years before they acquired Cody but when Cody was told to go to Julia’s room he went upstairs and sat on the rug by her bed. Lillian felt Cody was aware that Julia had been his savior.
Of course he knew the difference between ‘car’ and ‘park’ and between ‘dinner’ and ‘treat’ or ‘cookie’. More than single words though, Herbert believed his dog understood concepts. He tried to encourage this level of thought by expecting high intelligence from Cody and by dividing the hours spent with him so that sometimes it was romping and free play and other times were serious learning practice. Cody usually didn’t agree on which was which. In actuality, the dog led and Herbert followed.
Cody had come to Herbert and Lillian when he was twelve weeks old. Julia called one night to say they had found a puppy on the freeway. Would Dad take him temporarily?
They guessed his age at twelve weeks. The first meal that Lillian presented to Cody was in a small ceramic dog dish placed on the doormat on the back step in case he had mange or ringworm. On the first night that he was invited to eat in the kitchen, Cody ignored his food and sat down at the back door. Herbert let him out and the dog seized a corner of the doormat in his teeth and dragged the mat into the kitchen. He looked at Lillian. She placed the dish on the mat and Cody ate. When they tried to feed him without the doormat, he refused.
“This is crazy,” Herbert said, “night and morning we have to bring a doormat into the house to feed a throw-away puppy? What the hell did he use for a table while he was living on a freeway?”
When Cody weighed twenty-three pounds he graduated to a large dish. He accepted the new dish if the old dish was next to it. They could see that he liked having a larger dish with more food, for he ate with relish; however, he guarded the small dish with his body. Lillian laughed. “It’s obvious he has a big dish for his body and a small dish for his spirit. Zen dog.” She kissed his nose.
copyrighted material 2006
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