Bye Nicky

In 1996 on Christmas Eve I asked my wife to get some batteries from Walmart.  She and the girls returned 30 min later with the batteries and an emotional plea about puppies.  Apparently a man was standing outside Walmart with a shopping cart full of puppies giving them away.  Katie had wanted a pet since she was 6 minutes old.  Sarah liked the idea of a dog but wasn’t sure of the implementation.  We hadn’t had one for several reasons, not the least being that we were involved in every dance, gymnastic, sports activity offered in the suburbs of Houston.

With sobs of  "I’m NEVER  going to get a dog" we relented.  It was Christmas.  The shopping cart had 5 or 6 mostly black frolicking puppies eager to investigate any newcomer to the dogpile.  Katie picked a smaller one that was mostly brown.  Another trip through the Walmart checkout line for pet supplies and we took home our newest member of the family.  Because it was Christmas Eve we called him St. Nicholas – Nicky for short.  It has a nicer ring than Walmart.

I had several dogs growing up so I knew a little about how they worked.  It became obvious that Nicky was a sweet animal.  The collateral damage of puppyhood was minimal.  House training went surprisingly well.  Sarah had become comfortable with the fuzzy brown bundle of energy.  Katie bonded with Nick like Mowgli and Baloo from the Jungle Book (Katie was Baloo).

Years went by, Nicky was totally integrated into the Christy Clan, he had his own stocking at Christmas and we celebrated his birthday in August.  He grew to about 40lbs.  He was a mutt but we are pretty sure he had some Chow and Greyhound in him.  He could run faster than any dog I had seen.  We would take him on "walks" where we would ride our bikes over to the fields of the school and he would run along side (no leash).  He could keep up no matter how fast we rode.

Nicky was good with other animals and other people, he had exceptional manners.  He did have 2 weaknesses, squirrels and deliverymen.  He could resist chasing other dogs, cats, cars and bicycle riders but a squirrel tail twitching at 50 yards was too much.  He would accelerate to top speed in .8 seconds.  I imagine the squirrel would feel some sort of dog-sonic boom and realize that the nearest tree was the only option.  Only once did I see Nick catch a squirrel.  It was a case of a tree to far.  He put his paw on it and sniffed, there was no malice.  The squirrel who was not entirely convinced of this rolled out from under his paw leaped on a Crape Myrtle, over a fence and onto a roof.  He never chased a deliveryman but he must have sensed a disturbance in the force when they were around and he would bark.  A FedEx guy would have a better chance of sneaking into Mordor than to drop off a package at our front door without Nicky sounding the alarm.

More years went by.  In 2007 Nick was 11 years old and still going strong but then there was a problem.  He started having seizures.  The Vet said he had a brain tumor, he prescribed anti-seizure medicine.  Nick became lethargic almost comatose, we were afraid he was suffering.  We took him to the Vet, we thought it was the end, we said our goodbyes.  Literally minutes before we were going to put him to sleep he started to come back to life.  He stood up, he recognized us!  We scooped him up and took him home, he got better and better.  We think the medicine was shutting him down.  His body adjusted, we kept giving him the medicine and the seizures stayed away.  The Vet told us the medicine could extend his life a month – 6 months maybe even a year, it was hard to tell.  Privately we hoped he could last until Katie went to College.

Fast forward to today almost 4 years after the seizures.  Katie is a Senior in college, Nick was almost 15, he had lost most of his hearing and chasing squirrels was just a fond memory although UPS and FedEx guys were still being targeted.  He is still sweet and loving and spends most of his time on the balcony surveying his kingdom.  Going for walks over to the Church is his most favorite thing to do.  His life is good.  Monday morning he comes down stairs, has his usual breakfast and goes into the back yard.  When we go to let him in, we notice he is drooling and staggering.  We spread some towels and I sit with him while Linda calls the Vet.  He is out but will return in about an hour.  Nicky can’t stand anymore and his eyes alternate between glazed over and aware.  Mostly he is somewhere else.

At the Vet he tells us Nick (he calls him the miracle dog) has had heart failure and this is really the end this time.  There isn’t anything we can do but make it easy for him.  Linda and I get terribly emotional, it’s very sad.  We say goodbye and he is gone.

Although loosing Nicky is very sad we are also extremely grateful.  We could not have asked for a better family pet.  We were lucky with him in so many ways.  He lived a good life and made ours better.  We knew this day would come and in true Nick style it was as good as it could possibly be.  It was quick, he did not suffer and there wasn’t even an opportunity for mistakes to be made.  We all are grieving now and we miss him but after a little bit there will only be many happy memories.  If there is a doggie heaven, Nick as got a spot (and not just because of that St. Nicholas stuff), they won’t even have to check his ID.  Thanks Nicky – Good boy!

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