Sunday, July 11, 2010

For The Love of a Basset

It has been almost 6 months since my beloved Nicky left my world and went to play with all of the other loved but never forgotten dogs at the rainbow bridge. I doubt that I'll ever stop loving him or missing his sweet little face. I know this, because I still look at his pictures, I still cry, and every once and a while there will be something that I just can't wait to tell the little guy.

This is the story of how I became completely enamored with a basset hound named Nicky.

I have always loved dogs. As a child, there were several kittens in my little country girl world, but there was a problem with me and cats. My mother would be all too happy to dig out several pictures of her little blond child, smiling and walking around carrying some poor innocent kitty by the neck. After a while, I think my parents decided that this probably wasn't a good idea, and all of a sudden there were no more cats. After that, I remember having a Doberman for a short period of time, she was a sweet girl and my brother and I called her Ginger. But, everyone that came to the house was afraid of her, and all of a sudden one day, she was just gone. For my brother's 13th birthday, we picked out a beagle that we named Izzy. I remember the day we brought Miss Izzy home! Boy did we love that dog, she was sweet natured, and loved to play, and she was just so darn adorable. Eventually, Miss Izzy had a litter of pups, and we kept one of those pups. (That wasn't the plan, but my mother and I were in love with a little female, Snickers, and every time my father would talk about finding her a home, my mother and I would cry...and that's how she became a member of our family.)

My twenties involved long hours at work, apartment living, and lots of nights out on the town. None of those things would have been fair to a dog- so I never adopted one although now looking back, I think that having a companion at home probably would have kept me there more!

At the age of 30, Nicky chose me to be his human. And I couldn't have been more thrilled. I hadn't planned for a dog, nor was I even looking for a dog- he and I just fell in love with one another, and it was definitely meant to be. When his owner showed up on my doorstep one Saturday morning and explained to me that this little guy belonged with me, I didn't argue- not one bit!

Of course, I wasn't prepared for a puppy, but I adjusted very quickly to the little guy who just wiggled his way into my heart more and more each day. How could you not smile at the sight of a basset hound puppy, especially one as charming as little Nicky was? Those beautiful long ears that he tripped over because they were too long, those big feet that seemed to give him all kinds of trouble for many, many months...

Any unreadiness was fixed with a quick trip to Petco and several hours spent running frantically around the house picking up everything in sight, unplugging cords, throwing shoes in closets... you know the drill!

The first weeks with the little guy in the house were extremely challenging- and there wasn't much sleeping going on (unless you were a basset hound puppy!) Nicky was extremely hard to housebreak, and wanted to chew everything in sight. (Of course, he was a typical puppy, constantly on the lookout for trouble.)

He hated his kennel and would howl at the top of his little basset hound lungs to be released from his prison. Honestly, it was the worst sound that I've ever heard. I tried so hard to keep him awake all day so that he would sleep through the night and give his human a chance to get some much needed sleep. I would play with him, he would eventually tire and conk out, and I would tickle and tease him mercilessly to awaken him. It never worked! Eventually, I wised up and just started to sleep whenever he did- kind of like having a newborn infant in the house.

From the very beginning, Nicky was a cuddler. He loved to be warm, and as close to his human at all times. When he would decide it was time for a nap, he would find the nearest blanket and figure out a way to get himself underneath the blanket. And when his human gave up on the kennel, and decided it was time to start sleeping with her basset, he was all too quick to curl up right underneath the covers. The little guy slept as close to me as he could for his entire life. If I would move during the night, so would Nicky- and he always had to be under the covers.

Nicky filled my life with constant comic relief, and he was a great friend. He always seemed to know when I was upset, and he always made me feel better. There was no better time in little Nicky's day than the time of day when his Mommy would come through that door- and frankly no better time in my day. The sight of him running towards me, tail wagging was always enough to lift even the worst of days from my shoulders.

As Nicky got older, his ability to find trouble decreased. But every now and again, he would find a way to make his human laugh. I don't think we ever lit that grill a single time that the little guy didn't help us clean it up. And when he appeared in the kitchen one night covered in black spots, I laughed for the next hour.

My trouble making little puppy turned out to be a great dog, bringing smiles to the faces of everyone that met him. I loved that he had an ability to make a scowling stranger turn into a smiling stranger. It always amazed me the way that people would just fall for my little charmer. Everywhere I took him, people fell in love. He always made people smile and laugh.

It was with great sadness back in March when I had to make the toughest decision of my life from 2000 miles away. I'll never forget the distress in my fiance's voice as he told me over the phone that my Nicky had woken up that morning completely paralyzed. The helplessness, and the grief I felt at not being there for him when he needed me most blanketed my soul like nothing ever had.

My little basset had a slipped disk that was pressing on his spine. Surgeons spoke to me and told me that they could operate, that he had a 50/50 chance of walking again- but that the pain would be tremendous. The 50/50 chance- well, it wasn't enough. The chance that he would never walk again, or that he would be in pain was just too much for his human to consider. I couldn't let the dog that had guided me through so many painful times in my life, suffer any more than what he obviously already had.

My Mom & Dad picked him up from the Emergency Center where my fiance had taken him, and they took him home with them to a wonderful resting place underneath a big oak tree where our little Snickers and Izzy were put to rest.

The first thunderstorm we had after Nicky was buried, I wailed thinking of him outside in the rain. For weeks, I couldn't bear to go home because I knew that he wasn't there, and frankly the house just seemed so empty without him. He was a tremendous part of my life. For days, I would return home from work and sit in "his chair" and tell him all about my day.

Nicky was a huge part of my life for 5 years. He made me smile. He made me laugh. He charmed me like you can't believe. He kept me warm when it was cold outside, and kept me company when I was lonely. I will probably always miss him- I know a part of me will always love him, and even though my time with him was very short- he was 5- my time with him was amazing, and I'm sure in many ways, that Nicky taught me a lot about life. I feel very blessed to have had him with me for 5 years.

Wherever you are little guy, your Mama loves you and she misses you every single day!


  1. Bittersweet memories, I'm sure. A person looks at that charming face and falls in love. It does hurt the most when one is so close and they are taken away too soon, of course, my way of thinking, they should live as long as we do. Bless your heart, I'm full of tears.......

  2. I'm crying reading about you crying for Nicky in the rain - completely broke my heart :( It is so easy to see why you loved him so much. I can only imagine the grief of losing a precious pet.

  3. Lucy's mom,
    That was a very nice story about your pup Nicky. My mom still cries when she thinks of my big sissy Samantha, she crossed over the bridge two years ago this October.
    I am happy that sweet Lucy Lou is in your life now to make you smile again. :) Maybe Sam and Nicky are chasing squirrels together, let's hope so.

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  4. That is a beautiful story about a VERY handsome Nicky, and even brought a tear to my eye.

    Thank you for sharing him with us.


  5. A beautiful story and tribute to Nicky. Brings back memories of past canine companions...they're never forgotten. We know that Lucy is bringing another kind of joy to you.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

  6. What a beautiful story, and what a wonderful tribute to Nicky. Having buried too many of my dog friends (I've had them all my life), I can say that I can't think of any of them without tears, happy or sad. Dogs bring love and joy to your life like no other creature.

    I'm glad you have Lucy to share your love with now.

  7. Oh. What a sweet little face... and a sad story. It is so amazing how animals can change your life, isn't it? So amazing how they just swoop in and make your days better... Thank you for sharing this story!

  8. *Hugs*

    Glad I could "recommend" boxers to you that day in the store, with stories of my brother's boxer...I remember you weren't sure since the tails were so short!! I am glad you found Lucy to help ease the pain of losing Nicky.

    She will never replace him, but she helped to heal your broken heart.

  9. Very sad but good story. Glad you have Lucy now to keep you company! My mom almost got a boxer but ended up with a Golden (me).

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    Wags N Kisses,

  10. They never last long enough and it never gets easier...
    Hugs to you,

  11. Thank you all for your kind words and for letting me share my story of my darling Nicky with you!

    And welcome to all my new followers!


  12. Hi Lucy Lou! Lucy Mae here! I like dat life jacket! I needs one o' dem but I do prefers pink cuz it makes me feel pritty. I don't swim too good so I usually just stand in da waters or float wif my daddy. Very nice to meets you Lucy Lou! Looks like our Momma's love us very much!

  13. Hi, so happy you came to my blog at www.alwayscurtsywhenyousneeze so that I could come here and read this post. Very sweet and touching, and I can so relate to loving your dogs the way you do. I'm sending this URL to my friends and family who will love it, it's a must see. I can see you've put a lot of yourself into it, and I love your love for canine. Thanks for connecting. Keri a.k.a. Sam

  14. I got tears in my eyes reading this. It's a beautiful tribute to Nicky!

    I still my pets that have passed over the rainbow bridge every single day. It does get easier but it never heals completely.

  15. Are you kidding me 50 /50 and you didn't even try! If it was me I would have given the surgery a try.