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!