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Who's a good boy, then?
I had never wanted a pet in my life. I didn't like the idea of anything being totally dependent on me for everything they needed for life.
During the latter part of 2003 and the start of 2004 I was under continual attack by my family about getting a dog. There were tears and accusations of heartlessness so I finally gave in, with the following provisos – I would not walk the dog, wash the dog, feed the dog, pay the dog's vet bills or generally have anything to do with the dog. The family went dog shopping at a refuge and came home with a corgi/collie cross who was given the name Cody for no reason that anyone could explain. My resolutions lasted about three weeks.
At the time we lived on a very busy road and there was no fence on the front of the block so Cody spent his time in the smallish enclosed back yard. There was nowhere to take him for a walk except along busy streets with no footpaths. Any open parkland was too far away or, like the bushland behind the houses across the road, baited all year with 1080 poison so he couldn't go there. The only trees he saw were ornamental shrubs along where footpaths would have been if there were any.
We moved from Northmead to Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains. The road outside the house led to a busy tourist spot and we were about a hundred metres from the Great Western Highway. Again there were no footpaths so walks had to be along the roads and any nearby bushland was national park where dogs are prohibited. He saw some more ornamental shrubs.
After everyone else in my family had moved away the family unit consisted of just me and Cody, the dog I had never wanted. In 2015 we moved to Oberon and shortly afterwards went for a picnic in Blenheim State Forest. Within about a ten metre radius from the car were more trees than Cody had probably seen in his life, plus a million scents he had never experienced. He had always been good at getting into the car when asked to do so but I had to pick him up and put him in the car this time. Apart from when we did media work at car rallies this was the last time I ever had him on a lead in a forest. He would roam all over the place but made sure that he could always see either me or the car.
Cody went everywhere with me and the only time he stayed at home was when I would be going to somewhere where dogs weren't allowed, such as on the train. He had his own Facebook page where he reported on where we went and what we did. Evidence of his popularity appeared when we were deep in Canobolas State Forest doing the media thing at a rally (Cody had his own high visibility jacket and a name tag identifying him as a media representative). Someone came up to me and said "You must be Peter". I asked how he guessed and he said "I recognised your dog from Facebook". Cody was more famous than I was.
My family had always been worried that he might not be sociable around other people and animals, but one of his greatest pleasures once we moved to Oberon was going to Farmers' Markets where he could meet lots of people and dogs. At the Tarana markets I had to be very careful getting his lead on while he desperately tried to get out of the car and he would almost pull me over in his haste to get across the car park to where the stalls were. Once there he calmed down and trotted along next to me, looking at all the sights.
There was a lot of rain in 2016 which limited the occasions when we could go for our picnics in the forests. On the first Sunday in October we went to a lovely spot in Essington State Forest, where he spent the afternoon splashing through creeks and having what looked like the best time in his life.
Cody died suddenly four days later on the following Thursday. It's been three years so I only miss him about once a day now. He was the goodest dog that ever lived.
This article was my first contribution to the Oberon Writers' Group (December 2019).
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