For Cody Leightenheimer and his family, it was a difficult time, he and his wife had lost two children due to miscarriage, and he felt he had a hole in his heart that was a bottomless pit he would never be able to fill again.
One day while Cody was working his job at a wood flooring factory, he was approached by a scrawny, big-eyed puppy.
This unexpected encounter would lead both Cody and the dog on an incredible journey which neither of them would ever forget.
Tissues will be required for this story. Here is Cory’s account of this chance meeting.
“I instantly wanted to abandon my work post and grab the thing for cuddles, but I had work to get done. This pup wasn’t having none of that though. He walked up to me and stared at me with his huge eyes.”
“I went to pet him and noticed instantly that he was flea-covered, matted, and not in the best physical shape,” Cody said. “As I looked closer, I realized that he had a lot of gray around his muzzle, ears, and face.”
“He wasn’t a pup at all. I got him chicken-ish fast food during my lunch because he was so thin I could feel his bones.” That’s when Cody had an idea. “I started sending these pictures to my wife planning on pleading to bring him home.”
Would his wife, Kasie, be willing to take in and love this precious pup?
“I didn’t have to because she beat me to the punch,” said Cody. “I thought I would have to herd him away from doors all day until I could clock out and take him home. The little guy fell asleep on the floor and stayed there all day.”
When it was time to clock out, Cody was finally able to bring the poor pooch home.
He washed off dozens of fleas from the pup’s coat and then took him to the vet, who ticked off an enormous list of existing health conditions, including stunted growth from malnutrition.
The dog also suffered from cataracts and one dilated pupil from blunt force trauma to the head which he had suffered along the way. He had ulcers in his stomach, which caused vomiting, four oronasal fistulas in his mouth caused by his teeth rotting out of his head; and, to make matters worse, he was completely deaf.
Cody and Kasie decided to name him Rooster Cogburn, after John Wayne’s character in True Grit.
“We found it fitting due to his ability to keep moving despite it all,” Cody explained.
The veterinarian said that Rooster was a Shetland sheepdog, between eight and 12 years old and he weighed only 7.3 pounds.
True to his namesake, Rooster remained strong and unwavering throughout his recovery.
All of the medical treatments and diet finally paid off!
Here he is, “after a surgery on the fistulas, a strict medicinal regimen, months of spoiling, and a family who loved him as much as their two children and then some,” said Cody.
Rooster even got a name upgrade!
Cody continued: “Toothless (nickname added by our five-year-old daughter because of her love for ‘How To Train Your Dragon’) Rooster Cogburn was a dashing elderly gentleman in the vein of Sir Ian McKellen and Christopher Plummer.”
Just look at that swagger! Rooster could wear a dainty bow and still look cool.
Cody and Kasie treated their special pup like royalty. Toothless, in turn, showered them with unconditional love and affection.
”He loved being spoon-fed by his mommy, [and] Greek yogurt was his favorite treat,” said Cody.
Toothless Rooster Cogburn loved playing dress-up and looked very dashing in whatever outfits he wore.
Rooster’s life may have been painful for so long, but it was worth the trip to be able to end up with Cody and his family.
Rooster was certainly right at home with them!
It was the perfect match.
Though he was a senior dog and he had his fair share of health issues, Toothless Rooster Cogburn had a spirit which would not be denied.
He was the life of the party and the greatest best friend Cody could have asked for.
Toothless Rooster Cogburn loved naps just like any good dog does.
It was a great relief for Cody and his family to know that this old pup was finally living in a place where he could snooze peacefully all day long, safe and loved.
However, Rooster’s story has a sad ending..
“Toothless Rooster Cogburn was given three months to one year to live,” said Cody.
“He made it to one year before he got too sick to grace us with his awesomeness for one more day.”
Tearfully on June 2, 2014, Cody and his family had to say goodbye to their best friend and loving companion.
“I watched the greatest friend, most loving pet, and the most heroic fighter I’ve ever met sink into a well-deserved final nap while his mother and I held his paws,” said Cody. “I never thought I could love a pet as much as I loved him; as much as we loved him. Everyone who met him instantly loved him.”
“His vets, our friends, a theater full of patrons when he performed a walk-on role in a play. He truly was one of a kind. We hope that we gave him enough good memories to wipe out any bad ones that came before.”
This story is a wonderful example that it is never too late to help a dog and give them the happy and loving life they deserve.
Whether it’s a puppy or a senior, they all deserve to know what it’s like to be loved and cared for!