Before the Insanity, Part Eins

This little Bichon mix is Nicki. Or Nick. Or The Dog Who Lived Forever. As you all know, forever isn’t nearly long enough.

I was lucky enough to get to spend some quality time with this feisty guy during his golden years. He was owned by my husband’s mother. Back when we lived in Calgary, we would pet-sit for her on occasion. Since we didn’t have a dog of our own, other than the behemoth that lived upstairs (but that’s a long story for another day) I used to look forward to Nicki’s weekend visits.

For one thing, Nick was an absolute delight to walk. He was so well-trained and so well-mannered I would want to take him as far as his old little legs would allow. The children in our neighbourhood adored him and he seemed to adore them right back. An attention-junkie, Nick would stand there patiently while kids cooed over his adorableness. It was fun to answer, “yes!” when children shyly asked permission to say hello.

Nicki was also the best cuddler. Before him, I’d never shared a bed with a dog. Nor had I ever held one on my lap. Since he was older and we were just the fill-ins, I could hardly turn him away. Once he found a comfy spot he would remain there quietly, nudging his head under my hand every so often to encourage further petting. A dog like that is some of the best company one could ever find.

One of the first times I hung out with Nicki was on a camping trip. The man and I had to borrow equipment from his mother. We planned on spending the night at a recreation park close to her house. Allison Creek – if you are ever in that part of Alberta I highly recommend it. Since camping is always better with a furry friend, after we picked up the tent we decided to take Nick with us as well.

From the beginning of the trip Nicki was kind of a pest. He wanted to be a part of everything we were doing, from putting up the tent to starting the fire. He was constantly underfoot. It was impossible to sit down without him jumping immediately into my or my husband’s lap.

At one point I got so frustrated, maybe I was trying to cook a hot dog or something, I just put him down on the ground with a big sigh. Then I made the mistake of glancing at him. The look on his fuzzy face was priceless and I started to laugh. The husband started to laugh as well. This, of course, only incited Nicky to jump back up, which made us laugh even more. It was a memorable moment in an early part of our relationship and I will never forget it.

Nicki wasn’t always an easy dog to be around. He had his struggles just like every other dog in the world. Whenever somebody left the house, no matter who it was, he would bark non-stop. He never barked when you arrived, only when you walked away. As he got older, he had to deal with the same health issues we all do. It could be a challenge and it could be scary, but I’m glad I was there for him in even a small capacity. Through it all, he never lost that spark, that special something dogs have that makes us fall in love with them.  

The last time I saw Nick was right before we left Calgary for the East Coast. My practically in-laws had to go away for a week and we were happy to look after him one last time. It was a crazy week with all the last-minute packing and arranging. We were just about to embark on an adventure of a road trip. I regret I didn’t spend as much time with him as I should have. Back then, it seemed like he would live forever.

No matter how long a dog is in your life, it never feels long enough. The most important thing is to be grateful for the brief time you have together. Nicki was a special guy. Before him I’d always been wary of small dogs. He taught me they can have just as much personality and heart as their larger counterparts. He made us laugh. I will never forget him.

37 thoughts on “Before the Insanity, Part Eins

  1. You’re not supposed to make me cry so early in the morning. 😦 That was beautiful. Nicki sounds like a wonderful dog. Funny thing is, I don’t really know that believe in heaven, but I do know that if I die and there is one, mine will be surrounded by all the dogs I’ve known and loved. I can’t really imagine anything better.

    Okay, now I might need to go home during lunch and hug my dogs.

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  2. Thank you for introducing me to Nicki who sounds like an amazing dog. This is what blogging is about to share stories and memories. Thank you for warming my heart today.

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  3. They need to make a pill that allows all dogs to live forever.

    My first dog, who still lives with my parents is nearly 15 now, and she’s starting to decline rapidly in health. The thought that she might not be around next year breaks my heart. They are supposed to be 4 year old dogs, forever.

    Thanks for sharing the sweet story!

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    • They are, I agree. But perhaps their too-short lives help us appreciate them more.

      My childhood dog passed away five years ago. And thinking about her too much still makes me cry. I’m not yet ready to write anything about Nikita for that reason.

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  4. *sigh* this makes me feel even worse about my recent meltdown moment.

    when jordan died 21 months ago, i remember feeling somewhat stupid for missing him so much. many people, especially ones who do not have pets, often don’t understand what the fuss is about. some weeks after he died, i mentioned on facebook how silly i felt about going on and on about a dog and a friend posted this back –

    love is love.

    somehow, it helped.

    thanks for your post and tribute.

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    • It’s true, I agree with your friend. This sounds wrong but sometimes losing our animals is harder emotionally than losing our human friends. Unlike a family member, you see your pet every single day. Their lives are entwined in your daily routine and so their absence is noticed in every corner of the house.

      You should never feel silly about experiencing grief, no matter who it is for.

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  5. What a sweet little guy, gorgeous eyes. I think he was so cute in his short hair cut.
    As I grew up we had seven different dogs, all of them different and wonderful. I pity the people who did not grow up with a beloved pet.
    I don’t trust people who do not love animals.
    ~Sandy

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  6. Aw come on. That was so beautiful, but I’m all teary eyed now!

    Charlie keeps getting into stuff and I keep having to come to the realization that’ he’ll die one day and I know I’ll be torn to pieces.

    Hands down the worst, most terrible part of having animals in your life is that they live such shorter lives than we do.

    I keep making sure to take as many pictures and videos of him (and Emma, and Tigress, and the bunny) as possible so I have something to remember him (them) by when they do leave me. I also think that’s why pet blogging can be so powerful – when you do lose a loved animal you can go back and relive them the way you did when you were in the moment.

    Thank you for this.

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    • Exactly. That wasn’t the original reason I started yammering on about my dog, but it is a great side-benefit. Look at all we will have to help us remember, the good times and bad.

      So have you named that bunny yet or is he doomed like our cat to be forever known as “The Bunny.”

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  7. November is adopt a senior pet month. Your tribute to Nick is a sweet reminder of the joy dogs bring us, even as they get older.

    As for too short a time with us–ah yes. But as I look back, what would I do if my first dogs (Agatha and Christie) lived for ever? Would that mean I’d never have known Shadow? Or Honey? That’s also too high a price to pay.

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    • That is a lovely way of thinking about it. If dogs lived as long as we do, we wouldn’t be lucky enough to have many new ones in our lives. That would be tragic.

      Nicki proved to me that senior dogs are just as much fun, and can be just as funny, as younger dogs. Age seems to matter little if they are given the same amount of attention and love.

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    • I don’t know all the science behind it either. Small dogs live a lot longer than large dogs, on average, I know but other than that, not sure why their lifespan is so short. What’s up, Mother Nature?

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  8. I am crying…. As I read about Nick, all I could think of was my dog, who was a Bichon. She and Nick could have been personality twins. Everything you wrote about him, I could have said about her. I too thought she would live forever. Her last “real” day, I was at my mom’s house. I just moved out and had to go back to do someone’s tax return. I spent the entire visit working, and not playing. I thought I had many tomorrows left…. Unfortunately, nothing is forever. Nick will always live on in your heart & memories, just like my little girl does….

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  9. That was a beautiful tribute to Nikki! What a lucky guy who had your love or I should say you were so lucky to have him as he taught you life is beautiful and full of love.

    My eyes were teary too after reading the post and it also reminded me my own lost not long ago. I still miss them, in fact, it grows stronger each time whenever I think about them. I’m glad I had them with me no matter it’s just 3 months or 10 years. It’s never long enough as your said!

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    • It doesn’t really matter how much time, does it? I only knew Nicki in the latter part of his life and I didn’t get to see him very often, but I still think about him and feel sorry he is gone.

      I am sorry about your Hana. Her life with you was much too brief. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  10. We had Nicki for just a couple of weeks shy of 20 years. I know where he is now is where I want to end up. Its been a year since we lost him and I still save a little ice cream in the bowl- just because

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  11. I think one of the reasons we love our dogs so intensely is that we know, most of us, on some level, that we’re probably going to outlive them; and so our time with them is limited and precious, and we have to love them hard while we can.
    – – – – – –
    Jack@PDB

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