Codger column: Cur is gone

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Codger at home with Crone (a ka a Lois B. Morris) and Cur (Milo) at their West Neck Road home.
CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Codger at home with Crone (a ka a Lois B. Morris) and Cur (Milo) at their West Neck Road home.

Cur slipped away on a Saturday morning three weeks ago. Codger and Crone were with him, murmuring, stroking him, weeping. He was more than 14 years old and very sick.

Codger and Crone are not routinely sentimental, but there has been much talk since about rainbow bridges and other beloved dogs waiting for Cur on the other side. Codger’s father, Coot, who never met Cur, is there with treats.

On Shelter Island, where he arrived nearly 10 years ago as a rescue named Snoopy, Cur was re-named Milo. He was fostered here by Penny Moore and whenever he passed Kim and Penny’s hound haven, he would stop and stare for a minute or two. Codger always wondered what he was thinking, what he remembered of those days.

Codger spends a lot of time thinking about Cur and re-reading the sympathy cards and emails from friends and family. He finds a soft, sweet pleasure in the grief. But the loss is harder-edged. Dog people understand, those who have never been owned by canines have no idea.

The gap between those two human breeds is wider than the gap between Democrats and Republicans. And then there are cat people.

Codger and Cur’s last substantial walk, before Cur’s legs gave out, was on January 16, Codger’s birthday. He had celebrated by attending the Town Board meeting, remarkably smooth, calm and relatively attitude-free under new Supervisor Gary Gerth. For the first time in recent memory, board members seemed relaxed.

The agita occurred during the public session when Jean Lawless, trembling with anger, reported being “horrified” at the number of trees “decimated” on public property off Menhaden Lane. Later that afternoon, Codger and Cur checked it out. Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams was already there on the town path off the lane, taking notes. Dozens of trees, cedar, cherry and locust among them, had been chopped down or topped.

Codger, Cur and Amber trudged up to Gardiners Bay Drive. There were houses overlooking the Menhaden Massacre. It might have been easy for Codger to assume that residents who overlooked the little forest had found their views of Hay Beach and the bay obscured and hired mercenaries to slash the trees.

But Codger and Cur decided to make no assumptions, which often become fake news. Truth is beyond strange these days. It could have been the act of a kid carried away with his/her Christmas chainsaw, the re-enactment of an ancient tree sacrifice or an anti-environmental project by a climate change denier.

The matter is now under investigation. Alas, Cur did not live long enough to learn that Supervisor Gerth has stated that restitution should be made to replace the trees along with any punishment for the arborcide.

This, of course, may not be so simple; the land belongs to Suffolk County and the matter to its Parks Department and District Attorney. The county may not view this as a priority. Codger would have rather watched Chief Jim Read and Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg solve a crime that reeks — assumption alert! — of the kind of entitlement that’s become so routine lately here as well as beyond our waters.

As too many home owners have learned, forgiveness is easier to receive than permission on Shelter Island, especially on environmental matters before routinely inconsistent town agencies. Codger wants payback. He thinks that the Friends of Trees, like bay constables, should be issued Glocks.

Among other matters that might have involved Cur, the suggestion has re-surfaced that the town sponsor a dog run. Cur was a wallflower at such parties and Codger has never been all that social, but dog runs are good so long as dog owners, not taxpayers, pay for them, clean and monitor them. Then there’s the question of where to put one. Cur always seemed bewildered by the empty skateboard “SPOT” on Bowditch Road along the don’t-call-it-a-dump.

Other possible sites are any of what Codger calls Dan’s Dumps, those various unoccupied, unrented, undead properties owned by Daniel Calabro and deserted — reportedly because of inflated rents — by the likes of Schmidt’s and The Inn Between. There’s also a hilltop boatyard.

Codger was too absorbed with Cur’s failing health to make any New Year’s resolutions this year other than to keep a sharper eye on the Town Board in its encouragingly renewed version. Now that will be his memorial to Cur, part of his attempt to become worthy of such a great dog, a cocker sapien.

The problems that puzzle the Island — rental laws, tick control, water quality and the need for long-term planning — are not going away soon and will test the new-found good nature of the Fab Five.

One last sweet memory: Crone remembers that Cur’s last lick was of peanut butter, a choice that Codger would make for himself.