Skip to main content

A Dog’s Take on The Forest: 9 Ways to Get the Most Bang for Your Bark

Oh, hello, everyone! My name is Cody. I’m a dashing wired hair fox terrier, and I happen to be woman’s best friend. I’ve been living at The Forest at Duke with my beautiful person, Diane, since late last summer. We first arrived in this spectacular place in the middle of August – the dog days of summer, let me tell you – and we’ve been having a ball (or in my case, chasing a ball) ever since.

After nine months of being part of this cozy community, I feel like a brand champion and a pup with some pretty sage advice for newcomers and seasoned residents alike. So, if you fit into either of these categories, or if you’re just curious about how one might get the most out of life at The Forest, pull up a chair and find out how you, too, can live like a dog with two tails!

Embrace the unknown.

I’ve been with Diane for seven years now. I came from a breeder in Cody, Virginia – a hole in the road with a service station, general store, lots of farmland, and not much else. Adopted by Diane and her husband as a tiny puppy, I was rescued from not-so-great conditions and given the kind of life every dog dreams about. After all these years, I’ve really grown accustomed to the comfort and love that my life has afforded me. Diane says that if I were a human, I’d be “a good ol’ boy, a beer drinker, a runner, an investigator, a people person, and a woman chaser.” That’s quite the résumé!

I look back on my first few days, weeks, and even months with my new family and marvel at how far I’ve come. Back then, I was so unsure of what each day would hold – not because my new people weren’t wonderful, but because I was used to living in a really uncomfortable and sometimes scary environment. Over time, with a lot of encouragement (and some obedience training thrown in there), I learned to give my adoptive home and family a chance. Now I’m living life in the lap of luxury – hot diggity dog!

Let my example be a guiding light for you. When you’re used to one way of living and transition into a new one, you might feel a little uneasy. Your new home is unfamiliar, you don’t know many (or any) of the people or pups, and your day-to-day schedule may be completely different from your long-established routine. That’s okay! Rest assured, a lot of people and dogs go through this very thing. Allow yourself to feel those feelings, however scary and uncomfortable they may be. Just don’t let them keep you from enjoying the amazing things life at The Forest has to offer! Remember, the unknown may feel intimidating, but in the case of this incredible community, it’s totally awesome! Just you wait and see!

Play and have fun every day.

Cody, a wire haired fox terrier, is great at animal humor.
PLAY BALL! Here I am playing catch, my very favorite game! (Photo by April Ravelli)

Life actually can be all fun and games! Every morning, Diane and I rise at about 6:00 a.m. to walk around the entire Forest loop at least one good time. I love chasing the rabbits on the edge of the woods or down by the swimming pool! Diane and I do lots of walking. We walk around the cottages, stroll through the hallways of apartments, and visit with friends around campus.

I’ve got the location of all our friends’ homes embedded in my memory bank; whenever we pass their apartment doors, I jump up and down with excitement, hoping I’ll get to see our acquaintances again! And whenever Diane returns from lunch in the afternoon, I patiently sit by the door if I want to go back outside.

As soon as my long lead and ball come out, I get so pumped and ready for action! I run back and forth from Diane to the door, over and over and over, until it’s time to make our way to the lawn or the rose garden or the Forest loop. Together, we walk around campus at least twice a day, sometimes more, because we like to stay active, and Diane knows I’d go stir crazy if I stayed in our apartment all day. There’s just too much fun to be had in this great, big, beautiful world!

Take time to stop and smell the roses.

These are some of the beautiful roses that can be found in the rose garden at The Forest. Now do you see why I love visiting that place? It’s always so inviting!

I actually mean this one quite literally. The rose garden is my favorite place here at The Forest, and it is one of the prettiest places on campus! Diane and I enjoy playing catch there after lunch, as long as it isn’t raining cats and dogs. Out of respect for the flowers and for my fellow pups and humans alike, I’m super careful not to touch the flowers or “use the facilities” in the garden. (Diane takes me to “read the paper” ahead of our afternoon visits.) I want everyone to enjoy that beautiful place just as much as I do. The more, the merrier!

I also like playing catch on the grass just outside our apartment bay window. I’m very good at retrieving! When I’m tired, I like to curl up on the grass and let the warmth of the sun soak into my fur. Try as Diane might to rouse me, I won’t move or come when called. I just love to warm my bones and sunbathe! Oh, on the subject of smelling the roses, I also love visiting the trash room. It has a lot of fun smells for a dog like me, too.

Jump for joy when you’re happy!

Boy, this sunshine sure feels good. I think our game of catch can wait just a few more minutes while I lie here and enjoy… (Photo courtesy of Diane Goff)

Believe me when I tell you that there are plenty of things to be happy about in life, and a lot of them can be found here at The Forest at Duke. When you feel that joy, don’t hide it – showcase it for the world to see! Smiles, like wagging tails, are infectious, and joy spreads like peanut butter in a Kong toy. I should know. I feel so happy here, my tail doesn’t even wag – it vibrates!

When your heart feels warm and bubbly, it’s so important to share that with others. Remember, it’s virtually impossible to resist smiling back when someone smiles at you! Besides, you never know how much someone might need that spark of joy in their day. Which leads me to my next tip…

Be a friend to have a friend.

I’m not one to dole out kisses, snuggles, and affection to just anyone. I’m a pup who gives love on his own terms. But let me tell you, I will take all the love, head scratches, belly rubs, and pets you can possibly lay on me! That’s why I love our walk to the mailboxes in the Community Center every day – there are friendly, canine-loving residents, team members, and visitors galore!

One of the most important things about being a great friend is learning to accept love from others. You’re worth it! I won’t jump on anyone’s lap, but I will stand on my haunches or back paws to greet passersby. I also reciprocate affection with a few gentle kisses on the hand, and I’m a firm believer in running to greet those you love. Oh, and if I see my beautiful girlfriend Pepper along the way, all bets are off (puppy love is real, people).

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is this: love those around you, and they’ll love you right back. Just as people remember a sourpuss, they also remember kindness. Be known for your good nature, and people and pups will give it back to you. Besides, isn’t it better to have lots of friends everywhere you go? I sure think so.

Eat up! Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Animal humor is Cody's forte.
I mean, really, who can resist these puppy dog eyes? (Photo by Lauren Young)

I’m the kind of guy who’s hungry as soon as he wakes up. I let Diane know it’s time to eat by lying all the way down on the floor and melting her with my most pitiful puppy dog eyes. She just can’t resist my charms! For breakfast, she pours my kibble in a dish and sprinkles water over it to moisten the bits; I like my food a hair soggy, you see.

Anyway, after she prepares my food, Diane goes to her morning exercise class – typically yoga or something of that nature. While she is gone, I nudge piles of my moistened food out of my dish and all over the kitchen floor. As soon as Diane returns to our apartment, I race back to the kitchen from wherever I happen to be and lap up every last morsel. What can I say? I don’t know why I do it – I’m just a quirky guy!

I have no idea what the people food is like here at The Forest, but I will tell you that it smells amazing, and the scents wafting down the hallway from Heartwood Café make my mouth water! Let’s be honest: food is important, and you need your calories in order to keep going and enjoying the lineup of activities here. Bon appétit!

Rest and enjoy the quiet moments.

There’s beauty and peace in the quiet, so be sure to embrace the moments you get to yourself. Take naps! Lie down on the couch and put your feet up! Snore! I mean, or don’t. But I’m all about snoozing, and Diane makes sure I get plenty of rest throughout the day. I’m no spring pup, and taking a much-deserved siesta several times a day is just what the veterinarian ordered! I even have a special grey napping mat in our den, a plush towel on the sofa, and a designated snooze sheet on the bed. Sleeping on the bed is the best – that’s where I fall asleep watching the busy morning and afternoon happenings outside our window. The squirrels around here are a riot, let me just tell you!

Curled up on my napping mat is one of my favorite ways to be. (Photo courtesy of Diane Goff)

Naps are essential for restoration and rejuvenation, and they really help when you’re feeling dog tired. Rest up and feel your best the next time you play a match of ping-pong in the Group Exercise Studio, go for a warm dip in the swimming pool, or take an excursion for another “Tasting the Triangle” meal. Your body will thank you for the extra TLC.

Break away from the norm and get out of your comfort zone.

Whenever we go anywhere outside of our cozy apartment, I stay on a long lead. “Why?” you might ask. Because I’m an escape artist, and Houdini-ing my way out of the apartment is one of my favorite things to do! Just before we moved to The Forest, Diane and the rest of our family took bets on how many days it would be before I’d cut loose and wander the halls and grounds. In the nine months we’ve been here, I’ve managed to break out three times – twice to Taproot (where Diane found me sniffing around behind the bar), and once to the library, to check out the amazing collection.

Some of the best and most memorable experiences you’ll have can be found outside your door, away from the coziness and comfort you’ve come to enjoy. There’s plenty of fun to be had at The Forest and beyond, so be sure to sniff around for your next adventure and don’t miss out on the excitement!

This dog has animal humor down.
This is the life, my friends. (Photo courtesy of Diane Goff)

Enjoy the journey.

This is the most important part. I mean, really, it’s a combination of all of the above. You know those 8 Dimensions of Wellness Forest team members are always pushing? There’s so much value in them! Keep being and learning, doing and moving, mixing and searching and sharing and going. Yes, keep going! Your experiences and your journey are blending together to create the most beautiful story. Embrace life at The Forest, just as Diane and I have done, and you’ll definitely get the most bang for your bark.

Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your time. Be sure to say “hi” and give me a few good head scratches the next time you see me walking around campus. I’m already excited to be your friend!

Cody Goff, as told to Lauren Young, Marketing Specialist

Explore the blog