Wednesday, October 26, 2011

R.I.P. Keen-Eye Cody

From Diana Gauthier


Keen-Eye Cody passed on to the other side Oct. 24th. He was 15 years old. A huge part of me went with him.

There are many handlers’ dogs that have got Cody in their bloodlines. He sired many a great pup. His legacy will live on.

The first time I saw him, at 8 weeks old, I didn’t know how much that tiny puppy would come to mean to me. He was delivered to me from Dennis Gellings at a trial in Prince George, Sandra and Jack Peterson’s.

He was tiny, small boned, with a pointed little snout and bulging big eyes. He looked nothing like his older full brother whom I admired. I thought I had made a mistake in buying this pup sight unseen. But alas, he was to grab my heart and never let it go.

At the age of one he was cow dog of the year in pro Nov. He could stop a steer at a full run by grabbing the nose, sometimes swinging around wide and over it’s head, never letting go till the steer was pointing in the direction I wanted, then he’d drop off like a fly when he heard the “stay” whistle, There he’d wait for the next command and then burst off full speed again. He picked up the name at the cow trials, Kamikaze, cause he never had fear or regard for his personal safety. Everything he did was with a feverish intensity and commitment. He had been stepped on, stampeded over, flung into walls all in the name of working cattle. I retired him after that first year from cows because I knew that rubber ball of a body he had wouldn’t last.

His love turned to sheep.

There was no easier dog to make a shed with, no gap in the group of sheep needed at all. Him and I had a kind of point and shoot method. I’d point and he’d shoot. Sheep could be facing every which way, necks locked around each other like a tangled ball of wool. But Cody, well he knew how to unravel that yarn. I’d just point between two heads and that was his cue to come in like a whirl wind, (kind of reminded me of that Disney character the Tanzmanion Devi) and he’d separate the two groups. Never would those separated ones be allowed back with the others without word from the boss. And then of course it was the same at the pen. I could say “pen ‘em” and he would whirlwind them in. I use to say it was like tying to handle a tornado, you couldn’t stop it or even slow it down, and all you could do was guide it.

That was Cody’s really only detriment. He couldn’t be slowed down when he got excited. He had 2 speeds, stop and full throttle. At one trial as a 2 yr old he ran the pro Novice field course, doing an out run, fetch, drive and cross drive and getting the sheep to the mouth of the pen in no less than 57 seconds! Needless to say, he didn’t get the pen, the sheep’s’ heads were still spinning from the tornado! But I do remember his score wasn’t half bad considering!

He and I made a game of keeping the shedded sheep. We would do a nice shed then I’d put Cody on a stay and watch the sheep head back to the other sheep at the end of the arena a couple hundred feet away. But I’d time it so just before they got there I would release him and he’d bolt down, catching them up and bring them back to me. He loved this game and got so good at it but I remember that one time I waited a little too long to release him. By the time he was caught up to them they were knocking shoulders with their buddies. I felt bad that I had set him up for failure but Cody didn’t miss a beat, he came out of that group licked- split with those same two sheep, trotting back to me, a big smile on his face. (my sheep all were are distinctly marked)

He had a great mind all right.

One time when I was bringing in sheep from the field or I should say my dog Shian was, a neighbor drove up. I was standing by the front of the house whistling commands. My dogs were taught to open and shut gates so I could do the chores from the house. Well on the last gate, the one to the barn yard, I had previously propped it open with a stout stick. So when Shian went to shut it, she kept pushing at it with her front feet to shut it, and she was having trouble. I knew she would get it eventually as the stick had to give, just give her a minute. But Cody couldn’t stand it; he shot out from under the porch where he was watching. I thought he was going to push the gate side by side with her as he knew the trick too. But no, instead he grabs the stick and drops it down to watches Shian finish shutting the gate. They both come proudly up to me and my neighbor, he turns to me and says, “If I hadn’t just seen that I would never have believe it. “ He didn’t know dogs could think like that. Cody could….

Working sheep was his great love, that and riding horses.

He would love to perform at the rodeos and agribition fairs. Well for this one year, I decided to try something different. I had the idea of having Cody ride behind me and we would gallop around the arena, doing turn backs and sliding stops, all to music. Great idea but I had only 2 weeks before the next fair. I had to teach him to ride the horse as well as jumping up and ride behind me riding free style on his own. First time he got on a horse he didn’t know he had to bend his legs to the movement of the horse; he fell off and laid there on the ground just as he’d landed, with the look of shock on his face. I think he got the wind knocked out of him. I called him back up and he jumped up onto the horse. This time he knew what to expect and learned to bend his legs with the rhythm of the horse. Well the horse had to learn too. So when she felt those toe nails dig into her back side, I’m sure a picture came to mind of a cougar landing astride for the kill and so she acted accordingly. Cody went sailing and it took a bit to get the horse calmed down.

This time I knew what to expect and gave the horse a blanket over her rump and Cody and I went trotting around and he acted like he‘d been riding all his life. At the exhibition 2 weeks later, the horse needing no extra blanket. In front of a packed house, Cody starts the performance atop the horses’ back. I’m in the middle of the arena and I call my horse to me but she basically says ‘ I don’t know about all of this’ and doesn’t move a foot. As the music starts I see Cody’s big grin, he leans forward from the saddle and grabs the back of her neck and that horses head lifts high and she prances up to me on the double. Climbing up into the saddle, Cody and I gallop on my big red horse along with the music and after enough times we could do maneuvers , slide stops and roll backs. When a quick stop or turn comes up, I crook my arm out, still holding the reins and that’s Cody’s cue to slide his neck in to be braced by me so he doesn’t fall off. Right after the maneuver, I release him and he rides smoothly behind me again, loving every minute of it. After many years when Cody no longer did the performances, he would still beg to be allowed to jump up behind my horse when he saw me ready for a ride. Of course I would tell him, silly boy, you’re too old for that. But he just remembered loving it. I guess it gave him a rush.

At one of these performances, not sure which year it was, my horse, I guess she wasn’t paying attention to her feet. As we gallop around the arena to a full crowd, her hind foot landed funny. I watched it later on a video. She literally stretches full out, front legs out front and hind legs fully out behind right onto her tummy. It was like going down a fast elevator. I could see she was going to get back right up so decided to stay aboard. Cody, he comes off as she fell flat out but when he saw that I wasn’t getting off, he jumps back aboard just as she pulls herself up and goes right back into a gallop. If you had turned your head away for 5 seconds and looked back at the three of us, you would never have known there was a missed beat, because there we were, still riding to the music. When my hat fell off in the wind as we galloped, I’d come to a solid stop and Cody would jump off and grab the hat, give it a shake to dust it off for me and hand it to me and jump back on and away we’d go again. The song would finish with a roll of the drums which was our cue to pull center stage. Then I’d ask my horse to rear and hold it for 6 beats, with Cody hanging on, then land down to the crash of cymbals. It was a lot of fun. Cody was a lot of fun.

As Cody got old his body aged fast. All the old injuries proved he wasn’t made of rubber after all. But his mind and heart where never compromised with age. That dog, he was all heart. His stout barrel chest could barley hold it in. His every beat was to the rhythm of living life with everything he had.

I miss him terribly. I miss those big expressive eyes. I will always be so thankful he taught me to live life to the fullest and to have fun doing it. That was Cody’s gift to me.

Thank you Cody, it’s been a great ride!


Tonya said...

I'm so sorry Diana. Cody was an amazing friend. I have heard so much about him, ( I own Keen's son). I can't imagine how tough this is for you. He was a legend.
Tonya Fouch

Mary Ann said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss.