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Cody, the Black Labrador who Saved my Brother-in-Law’s Life

Cody, the black Labrador who saved my brother-in-law's life.

My sister and her family had just moved to a new home, and I was curious to see what it looked like. I had also promised to cook a meal for my niece Apples after she saw a picture of my mashed potatoes that I posted on Instagram.

So today, I finally paid them a visit.

I was happy to see my brother-in-law Koking, whom I had not seen for a while. When I arrived, I was also greeted by this lively black Labrador who took an immediate liking to me. He kept jumping at me playfully and wanted to keep licking my hand.

Suddenly, I remembered how I really used to be really good with dogs; and although I have not owned one for a good while now, the Lab must still have sensed this in me.

The dog’s name is Cody, a six-year old who was sired by a championship-pedigree Labrador. The way he kept following me around the house reminded me of a mongrel I used to own named Carter, so named because we got him on the day Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States.

Thus, I immediate reciprocated Cody’s affections, strange as this may sound because neither of us had seen each other before today.

My brother-in-law Koking, who takes care of Cody, could not stop talking about the Lab.

The dog habitually does his toilet at dawn; and when he has to go, he enters the masters’ bedroom to wake up either Koking or my sister Winnie. Whoever is willing gets up to let Cody out of the house and waits until the dog is done and ready to get back indoors.

My niece Apples, sister Winnie and brother-in-law Koking in the background.

There are days, however, when neither Koking nor Winnie is ready to get up just yet and will plead with Cody, “Ten more minutes!”

Upon hearing this, Cody will patiently walk out of the bedroom but return exactly ten minutes later to wake either Koking or Winnie so he can be let out of the house.

There was this one incident that Koking could not stop talking about. My sister Winnie works night shifts at a nearby call centre; so Koking has the house to himself most nights with only Cody as company.

There was this one night when Koking was having a bangungot, once known as the Asian Nocturnal Death Syndrome but presently more known by the term Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome.

Filipino folklore has it that bangungot is caused by going to bed soon after a heavy meal and/or a lot of alcoholic beverages. Modern medicine suspects that bangunot is actually acute pancreatitis or acute inflammation of the pancreas.

A person having a bangungot is said to be having a really bad nightmare during which he is unable to breathe and feels as though immobilised and pinned to the bed. It is this inability to breathe, we learned from old folks’ stories, that causes death.

Koking described the bangungot exactly as we used to hear from old folks back in the day: the bad dream; somehow being aware of the need to wake up and get up from the bed but unable to do so; and the tightening of the chest along with the inability to breathe.

Koking must have been making strange sounds, enough at any rate to alarm Cody, who jumped onto the bed and started nudging Koking’s face with his snout to wake him up.

When Koking still could not break out from the bangungot, Cody alternated nudging his face with his snout and licking Koking’s face. And he kept on doing this until he got a reaction.

Finally, Koking broke away from the asphyxiating grasp of the bad dream. He was right on the edge until the Labrador took it upon himself to do something about what was happening to his master.

Realising what Cody had done to save his life, he immediately reached out with his arms and clasped the Labrador close to his body in an emotional and thankful embrace.

“Were it not for Cody,” Koking proudly told me, “Winnie would have arrived the next morning to find me a cold corpse lying on the bed.”