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The Adventures of Super Cody - A Feel Good Dog Story

Last October Cody my 10 year old chocolate lab, his new little brother puppy Parker and myself, decided to visit my buddy Farmer Mike. Mike and his wife Susan have a beautiful property located along the lower Kinnikinnick River valley Southwest of River Falls. We were casually walking an upland area of his property admiring some new prairie plantings when we noticed a flock of turkeys along the edge of the woods. Cody also noticed them and, of course decided to chase them. “Fawkinnae, there he goes—the mighty Cody doing what dogs do best. Oh well, no big deal, he never goes too far.” After a short walk we got to where he disappeared into the woods and called for him not really knowing which way he had gone.

After about a half an hour of calling and searching we figured something wasn’t quite right; he always comes back within 5 or 10 minutes. I called my wife Shelley and she came to help us look. She drove some of the country roads while Mike and I walked the bluffs and ravines in the general area. After 4 or 5 hours, Shelley took Parker home and Mike and I continued to search and call until after dark with no luck. “He’ll show up at one of the neighbors.” Mike said. “We’ll find him in the morning.”

After an agonizing night, (keep in mind Cody is our first-born, spoiled rotten and has never slept outside except camping), we picked up the search Thursday morning. After some driving, talking with neighbors, and pondering all the “what if’s” we decided on a game plan that included looking below the cliffs and along the river in case the worst had happened. I planned on working my way down to the river and then walking upstream. Shelley was to go across the ravine calling, and Mike offered to work his way along the base of the cliffs.

Whether it was intuition or divine intervention, Mike decided to inch his way along a very thin shelf with rock walls above and below. Although Mike was already in a situation that could have easily gone seriously wrong, he decided to continue along his hazardous route a little farther and make sure there was no sign of Cody. That last bit of effort was priceless—Mike saw a patch of brown that just didn’t match the surroundings. “Fawkinnae there he is!”, Mike whispered to himself.

After calling us on the radio, I came to the base of the cliff below while Mike worked his way over to Cody and looked him over. Cody appeared in good shape. He was certainly hungry (hadn’t eaten or drank anything in about 30 hours) and was plenty glad to see someone he knew.

It didn’t take us long to figure out that finding him was only the first part of our challenge. Mike stayed with Cody and fed him water and treats while I climbed back up out of the gorge, met Shelley, and gathered the necessary ropes and gear to get him out. Mike directed us back with radios. I was coming in from a different direction now. My approach, from earlier, had included a couple river crossings and Shelley was still dry (and hoping to stay that way). Now it was my turn to shuffle along the thin shelf—and carry all the gear.

After a short reunion the plan was underway. Cody must have decided that this was no time to argue. He readily accepted being stuffed into an army duffel bag and tied to a rope. Mike lowered both of us down several feet and then together we lowered Cody over the crest and down to solid ground and an anxiously awaiting Shelley.

I’m still amazed at how well this situation ended and how easily it might not have. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Cody, in his pursuit of a flock of turkeys, fell about 40 feet off a rock cliff onto a one foot wide soil shelf, with another 30 - 40 foot fall below him. Aside from being a tired dog, he didn’t have a scratch. Nothing to indicate what he had gone through. I’m glad he stayed where he was, but I sure wish he would have barked when we were calling for him from within 20 - 30 yards above the day before.

We are grateful to Mike for his determination to help us find and rescue Cody. Some people think a dog is just a dog, but those of you who have dogs know that Cody means everything to us. Thanks Mike!


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