Koda from Ballymena (Northern Ireland)

We adopted Koda (formerly Laura) as an 8-week old puppy in August 2005, and named her after the Disney character in Brother Bear, as she looked just like a baby bear. A retriever/collie cross, Koda shows the dominant characteristics of both breeds: she can’t see as much as a puddle without jumping in, and if it moves, she will go into stealth mode and stalk it! She fitted into our family of 7 right away and quickly learned all the usual commands – and a few! Her most requested party trick was for someone to balance a biscuit on her nose, give the command “wait” and then tell her “OK”, and she would then toss the biscuit into the air and catch and eat it. Up until recently, Koda enjoyed excellent health but as age crept up, she has had increasingly stiff joints. She now gets a daily dose of doggie medication and, on the vet’s advice, she shares my glucosamine tablets which I take for arthritic knees! Her sight is failing (although she can still spot the odd squirrel on our walks!) and she has also become very deaf but thankfully, (probably the collie in her!) she responds very well to hand signals. One upside to the deafness is that she can’t hear fireworks going off, which always used to terrify her – now she is blissfully unaware! Sadly, in January of this year, she became ill, and an ultrasound revealed a “mass” on either her liver or spleen. Given her age, we opted for a conservative approach. She was prescribed a week of steroid tablets which the vet said would either work within a few days, or not at all, in which case we would have a very difficult decision to make. Koda bounced back within the week! Yes, she has a degree of difficulty getting up from lying or sitting and “hobbles” for the first few steps (as I do myself lol!); yes, she spends the majority of her time sleeping – and boy can she snore! Yes, she can clear a room with her flatulence, even while sleeping! However, produce her lead and she will bounce with excitement at the prospect of a walk, taking off up the avenue like a two-year-old. Spill food of any description on the floor and she would knock you down in the rush to “hoover” it up. Produce her evening feed and she will virtually dance in anticipation. Even after all this time, she still refuses to accept that there is absolutely no chance of her catching the tail feathers of the cheeky magpies who raid any leftover cat food from the windowsill. We celebrated Koda’s fifteenth birthday on 6th June 2020. She has been the perfect family pet and we could not have asked for a better dog. We know we are on borrowed time, but it has given us an opportunity to fully appreciate and fully enjoy her for however long we have left. Each day is a gift, and she is every bit as precious to me now as she was fifteen years ago. Thank you, Dogs Trust, for fifteen wonderful years with such a faithful and loyal companion.