Koda, the Wonder Dog

Koda, the way most people know him…

Koda is a glorious dog. He knows it, and he wants you to know it, too. When my brother moved to Washington (state), his family was not able to bring Koda with them. We eagerly offered to adopt him because he is such a fun-loving dog.

Koda is a full-throttle, in-your-face dog, and he is tall enough to put his head on top of tables and in your lap. Which is where he wants it, because he loves being petted. Seriously. He loves it, which is unusual for a German Shepherd. They are normally more aloof (see Ryder), but not Koda.

He is a galumph, too. A common sound near him is “THUD” because he bangs into tables, walls, couches, people. He’s a big lug. He is all-boy.

Weirdly, he has evolved into the influence for my linebacker-in-the-making dog, Chainsaw. Chainsaw is the Belgian Malinois who appears in Zombie Dog and appears again in Ghost Dog. She is another high octane dog, just like all Belgian Malinois.

Koda does this thing that is as un-Belgian Malinois as I can imagine. His favorite game is not chasing balls or running around the backyard. No, his favorite game is to chase Ryder when she has the ball. He doesn’t care about the ball, or the stick, or the piece of paper, or whatever it is. He cares about running beside Ryder. He never takes the ball. If you throw him the ball, he will wait for Ryder to pick up the ball so he can then chase her.

That being said, he is a loyal, friendly, faithful dog. Everything that anyone could want in a family dog. He likes greeting trick-or-treaters on Halloween and he enjoys short walks. (He has the stamina of an egg timer.)

One good-looking dog

So this is my Koda story. It is September a couple years ago, and Hurricane Harvey was making landfall somewhere in the deepest depths of the night. We were all asleep, and the dogs, Ryder and Koda, were sleeping in our bedroom upstairs as they always do on stormy nights.

At 4am Koda began thumping my side of the bed with his big wedge of a head. It’s a lot like somebody is hitting your bed with a mallet. You just can’t sleep through that kind of jostling.

I woke up, a little peeved. He jumps around excitedly, and I am like, “Oh, man, I do NOT want to let you out to pee.” I throw on some clothes and prepare myself mentally for drying a very wet dog when he’s finished. I look to Ryder. She’s like “hell, no, I’m not going anywhere.”

I open the bedroom door and Koda launches into the upstairs den. He clips around, ears erect and eyes wide open like, “Right?”

I don’t get it. I tell him “downstairs.” He runs downstairs.



I turn on the light. Koda is twirling at the front door. Water is starting come inside the house. Koda didn’t need to pee. He was alerting us that the house was beginning to flood.

I wake my wife. (Ryder, by the way, is still having nothing to do with any of this. I can now better interpret her face as “you should go deal with that.”) We run downstairs and begin the frantic process of wiping up water, throwing down old blankets and sleeping bags, and moving photos and electronic devices upstairs.

We eventually received five inches of water damage to our house, enough that the lower half of the first floor had to be rebuilt.

I called my brother and told him this story, and he confirmed what we now knew about Koda. He seems like a dimwit and nothing more than a big lug who’s in your way, but when you really it, he’s there to save your life or your house. I guess that’s why he’s become part of the Zombie Dog influence.

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