Peggy Keener: Koda – the epitome of serene grandeur

Published 5:11 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

As some of you know, in May Glen and I moved to a retirement community in Edina. Here I write a weekly biography of one of the residents. This week I decided to spark things up by writing about the neighbor dog. Folks here enjoyed it so much that I thought you might, also.

Koda born in the Year of our Lord 2009, not far from Seattle, in a whelping box.

The air was literally brittle with anticipation as I neared Koda’s apartment. After all, it was a legend I was about to interview. I knocked on the door and entered. There he sat glued like velcro to his roommate’s side. To my disappointment, though, he did not look my way—as if I were one of the unwashed unworthy—and went right on snoozing in his habitual undisturbed manner. Ignoring this snub, I nevertheless began my questions

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He was born in a cardboard box with no birthing coach in attendance. Soon, however, home became crowded with multiple identical siblings. That’s when a nice lady named Bernie came on the scene. Peering at him, she showed a decidedly keen interest. Thereupon he laid on the charm woofing melodiously, “Hello, I’m Koda. Please, pleeeeeze take me home. There I promise to be your inexorable BFF forevermore.” Later, as she gently laid him in the car, he inquisitively turned to her … “and, by the way, Lady, which bed will be yours?”

As life began in Aurora, Koda (which means “friend” in German), gave considerable effort to the thorny issue of whether they did or did not need assisted living. Let’s face it, he pondered, wasn’t he already giving Bernie all the assistance she needed? Did she honestly want more or was she just trying to get attention? After all, he was—like clockwork—taking her for outdoor walks five times a day making sure her record of never messing in the house remained untarnished.

He, as well, had made sure to take her to all of Aurora’s culturally stimulating events so her mind won’t begin to wander. Personally he prefers MacPhail lectures as opposed to accordion recitals, all the while praying that Brooke will one day put Snoop Dog on the playlist. Monthly resident meetings remain his top-of-the-list favorite. There his unparalleled Aurora status is on full display, impolitely ignoring all pertinent topics by arrogantly sleeping through every discussion. Nothing, he knows, ever applies to him. He will be the first, however, to admit that when “The Life of Pi” played at our local theater, his blood was stirred by the hotty actresses. Still, what will it take, he wonders, for Nate to run “Lassie Come Home”?

When asked about religion, he arfed, “I never attend church here. I’m Jewish! I’m also in the process of planning a much overdue barkmitzvah. Things are moving slowly, however, as frequently the party plans are put on paws.”

Koda is in remarkably fine fettle. Unlike many Aurora residents, he has retained all his teeth, does not wear hearing aids, has spurned trusses, has no midriff love handles and decries any dependency on Depends. To the envy of us all, he also has never needed Botox. Additionally, he regularly exercises, attending classes five days a week. There he finds that balancing is his proudest accomplishment (having four legs helps!), along with excelling at deep breathing. Presently Koda is bursting with anticipation over the announcement of the addition of Tai Chi and chair yoga. It is his earnest prayer that Sandy will be our honorable teacher as she is giving every indication of being especially adept at Tai Chi. Judgment is on hold, however, concerning her chair yoga although those of us who have seen how well she sits in a chair think she’ll do just fine.

Koda’s finely toned leg muscles bring us to this: “the stance.” The frozen stance to be exact where he puts the brakes on. Hard! Anyone closely scrutinizing the long hallway throughout Aurora’s first floor will, upon close inspection, know what I’m talking about. Tiny ruts. Yes, clearly defined skid marks roughing up the flooring. Yup, Koda’s been there. His braking power is laudable when he chooses to resist, stretching out his leash to lengths never intended. This includes Bernie whose arms used to be shorter.

Koda’s taste in music is quite refined. He disdains “How Much Is That Doggie In the Window” as beneath him, but because of his stance against divorce, adores “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.” He does, however, wish to talk to Elaine about her infatuation with Lawrence Welk whose show Koda has grown weary. Just what she sees in Larry is beyond him.

As it turns out, Koda is quite the jock. He regularly takes part in Bingo and Wii bowling. But bowling, he will be the first to admit, does involve an element of danger when he must constantly be on the alert for unintentional head smacks by Bonnie and her long arms. As for Bingo, there he has another bone to pick. What’s with the prizes, Nate? Like would it be asking too much to include a Beggin’ Strip now and then?

As for marriage and children, much to everyone’s surprise, Koda has remained a lifelong bachelor. The closest he ever came to tying the knot was when he became romantically unraveled over Bella, a bewitching blond. This first experiment with puppy love, albeit, nearly did him in when the truth was revealed. The strumpet was his litter mate! Oy vey! It causes one to shudder imagining the harm—the defilement—such a marriage could have incurred! Incest in our family! Never! Still as far as any of us can figure, he has remained celibate although we can’t be absolutely sure. Like what does he do when Bernie goes down for dinner? And with the Skywalk as alluring as an open invitation (offering up a myriad of temptations), who knows? Just sayin’ …

Koda is the proud owner of a shih tzu pedigree. He brings honor to the breed with his gentlemanly ways, never howling at the moon, never snoring during Wheel of Fortune, never talking back, never snarling at the Vikings’ opponents, and always being unerringly polite to the girls at the front desk.

Early on he made the decision to not seek out a higher education once he completed puppy obedience class. He figured that what he learned about “stay” and “no” were enough for his discerning mind. Like, let’s be honest, how was he ever going to need algebra or the root of an isosceles triangle? Besides, he is uncommonly loyal, doesn’t shed and only requires trips to the beauty salon every few months. Furthermore, he is a one-hair-style boy while clinging to his sophisticated black and white wardrobe. (Clark Gable comes to mind.) In so doing, he avoids conceivable fashion risks while freeing up cash which he can then spend at the new vending machines.

Still, it must be said that with all his merits, is it just me or doesn’t it strike you as a bit peculiar that at the mature age of 105, Koda is still living with his mother? Okay, so Bernie is not his true biological and all—never actually having given birth to him—but, come on, Koda.

Politically no one is certain of Koda’s party affiliations. When asked he responds, “Arf.” We’re still not sure what arf means or for whom he will cast his vote. Guesses have it that he will choose the candidate who guarantees more turkey in his pet food. And who knows, already holding Aurora’s Ambassador of Goodwill, he may have lofty ideas of running himself. With Bernie glued to his side, his campaign song could be “Lady and The Trump… er, Tramp.”

As I concluded my interview, I couldn’t help but think of the Dalai Lama who also from childhood had a royal upbringing. Never has Koda ever had to wonder from where and when his next meal will appear, if anyone would not like him, if Bernie will move to Point of France and leave him behind, if Aurora will stop buying furniture that does not meet his level of comfort, and most egregiously—if Bernie will finally put her foot down on his taking up 4/5th of the bed.

In every respect, his living facilities have always been overindulgently generous … like his present bathroom that now is nearly the size of a city block. Additionally he is not asked to sign out a library book as Perky never requires this of sovereignty, as well as his not needing to sign out at the front desk where Ann always knows where he is by the adoring mobs encircling his countenance. He mocks Covid tests and, as for his trash, it magically disappears down a chute. It must also be noted that money—yes, money—is never a worry. Bernie just reaches in her purse and out it comes.

In closing I will add this personal note. Koda gives me a consummate sense of security; a tranquil feeling of peace and harmony. Despite his scrappy days being behind him, who—I mean who—can possibly stay in a rascally blue funk when the very embodiment of serenity is a warm furry ball snuggled up beside them?