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.