A few days ago, we had to bid farewell to a loving member of our family; our adorable little dog Nicky. Nicky’s been with us for 17 years, and although she managed to baffle vets as to how healthy she stayed the entire time, this week, old age finally caught up to her.
We originally welcomed Nicky to the family back in 2002, back when I was still in high school. Mum and Dad had promised my sister that if she did exceptionally well in her studies, they would consider getting a dog. And she certainly held them to that.
I had literally no say in the matter. I hadn’t even heard about the discussion beforehand. On the day the family went to the pet store, I was at a friend’s birthday party. When I got home that evening, all the lights were off, but I noticed there was a mysterious cardboard box next to the dining room table.
When I asked “Woah. What is this?”, my sister whispered “We got a puppy!”. I peered into the dark box, and all I could see was a small ball of white fur, breathing slowly. I was like “What?!”, and she said “Her name is Nicky” (Though I thought she said Ninky at the time).
I had a very short response.
I didn’t want a dog! Those things are awful! They chew up your things and they piss on the carpet and they make a lot of noise. Gah!
And that evening, Nicky didn’t even do anything to help herself. She was still nervous after coming to a new home, so in the middle of the night, I got woken up to the sound of her yipping and trying to jump out of the box. I went to try and calm her down, but mum basically said we can’t do anything but leave her in the box for now. Thankfully she calmed down and we were all able to go back to sleep.
The next day, I got to meet Nicky properly. She was still a puppy then, a tiny little Bichon Frise cross Toy Poodle breed. Apparently when at the pet store, my sister took a liking to her because she was accosting the other puppies in the play pen. My sister said “she had spunk”.
In any case, after getting to hold Nicky for the first time, I fell in love with her. She was very soft and fluffy and incredibly playful. She was an incredibly kind dog. Not once in her life did she ever get angry or bite anything aggressively.
There were a lot of growing pains in the first few years. When she was teething, she chewed up all of the remote controls for the TVs, which pissed me off. And at the start she wasn’t toilet trained, so she once ran behind the TV setup and pooped all over the curtains, which also pissed Dad off.
She hated being left alone. Whenever we would leave the house, she would run outside, stand at the gate and bark at people walking by. It would annoy the neighbors a fair bit. Whenever only one of us was home, Nicky would usually follow us around and lie down for a sleep when were sitting.
Whenever anyone would come home, Nicky would be over the moon. She’d run up to greet them, and if she hadn’t seen them in a particularly long time (my sister and I have lived in other countries multiple times), she would also sometimes start wailing and crying as she was running towards us. The cutest thing in the world.
My family periodically goes out and stays in a house in the WA countryside. I always love these trips because I can take my laptop and do some coding/TV watching in absolute peace. Invariably, when everyone else in the house left to go outside, and I’d still be inside coding, Nicky would race into the room, jump up onto the couch next to me, and promptly go to sleep. This usually totally disrupted my peace and quiet because she was an incredibly loud snorer!
She loved guests. There was not a single person Nicky didn’t like. Whenever a guest came over, Nicky would try and impress them by grabbing the closest piece of fabric nearby (clothing, a hat, a cushion), run over to the person and then whip the fabric around as if trying to kill it. She’d then proudly present her fresh kill to the guest.
While the initial plan was for Nicky to sleep on her own bed, this fell through very quickly. For her entire life, Nicky slept in one of our beds, usually either my sister or my parents. Usually once everyone else got up, I’d still be sleeping in, and so she’d come into my room and let herself into my bed. I’d usually end up going to school/uni with a dog still snoring in my sheets.
One time, as the family was all going away on a trip, Nicky went to stay with my grandmother. The plan was to have Nicky sleep in her basket for the entire time, but when it was time for bed, she completely disappeared inside grandma’s house.
Grandma was completely flabbergasted when she finally found Nicky. She had somehow managed to get INTO grandma’s bed, working her way under the covers without it becoming untucked, with her head on grandma’s pillow, snoring soundly by the time grandma managed to find her. Suffice it to say, grandma was not impressed at how we had raised our dog.
For a dog who slept a lot, Nicky was also crazy active. She would be over the moon whenever Dad got home from work. They’d both run into the backyard and dad would kick a basketball or a football around on the ground and Nicky would chase after it in fevered glee. Dad would usually have to end the session because it would be obvious that Nicky would continue to play well beyond her physical limits.
Sometimes Dad and I would put a net up in the backyard to play badminton. This was apparently sheer torture for Nicky because whenever we’d play, she’d be stuck inside the house, staring through the glass door, shrieking and howling and batting at the door with her paw, wanting to come out and join us. We’d eventually relent and let her come out to join us, but this would also add an extra level of difficulty to the game. For if we let a shuttlecock hit the ground, Nicky would race over and pick it up in her mouth, crushing it in the process. We eventually set up a system where we used feathered shuttlecocks for our games, and vinyl ones to let Nicky join in the fun.
Even though as far as dogs go, Nicky was exceptionally clean, she was still very much a dog. Sometimes, when mum and dad fed her too big of a bone at dinner, she would take it outside and bury it in the yard. A few days later, she would dig it up and bring it back into the house, dirt and all. She would then try and find a place to bury it in the house, but when she couldn’t find a suitable place, she’d get very agitated and start making a whimpering noise. This would usually trigger the rest of us to get the bone off her, because if we didn’t, we would later discover it inside a shoe, or one of our beds.
Possibly my father’s favorite moment about Nicky was one morning when she dug up a bone from the yard. I was still asleep in my bed when Nicky dashed into my room, jumped onto my bed, and upchucked the bone right on the pillow next to my face. I was still half asleep so all I remember is the sound of whimpering, some kind of gagging noise, then a “PUFF” noise as something hit the pillow next to me.
Dad says he recalls coming in to wake me up, only to find me in bed, holding the bone, squinting at it, trying to come back to consciousness and work out what just happened. He absolutely lost it.
Another of dad’s favorite moments with the dog (Again, because I suffered) happened a few years later. As she grew older, Nicky started to develop a cyst on her back. While we thought it was too deep to do anything without a trip to the vet, one day, I saw Nicky just reach around and bite it, rupturing it. Later that evening, mum and dad left the house to go to a party (And my sister was away from home at the time) leaving just me and Nicky in the house. The cyst looked like it was oozing slightly, so I decided to disinfect it with some rubbing alcohol. Before I applied it, I decided to squeeze the cyst to try and clean it out first.
That was a huge mistake.
I didn’t even squeeze it that hard, but there was enough pressure in the cyst for it to explode, splattering my face, pieces lodged in my beard, and barely missing my eyes. I think my response was pretty appropriate:
I moved Nicky to the laundry since I needed to give her a proper wash now, and then jumped into the shower and scrubbed my face very vigorously.
Dad was two houses down, but he could sense something had happened. It was very unusual for all of the lights in our house to be on. He sent me a message asking if I was okay and I sent the following.
Dad had to leave the party early because he couldn’t stop laughing. Everyone thought he had gone insane.
As smart as she was, Nicky also had some quirky behaviours that we just couldn’t work out. One of them was that she periodically liked to drink shower water. We couldn’t understand why; maybe she just preferred a different “vintage” than that of her normal water bowl. But whatever the case, she would periodically jump into the shower after someone had used it and start lapping up the puddle in it. The only problem was, once she had jumped in, she was too terrified to jump back out. Maybe she realised her feet were wet and slippery, or maybe the view was just different from the other side.
Whatever the case, sometimes, we’d randomly start hearing crying and howling coming from the bathroom, and when we went to investigate, this is what we would find:
Thankfully, a few years later, we moved to a house that didn’t have a ledge at the bottom of the shower, and Nicky was fine after that.
Nicky loved attention. Whenever someone was sitting on a couch, she would come along, jump up on the couch, and lie along with them. If the person on the couch started stroking Nicky, and then stopped, she would get agitated about that. She’d start batting you with her paw until you started stroking her again. She was really quite shameless in demanding attention.
One thing Nicky absolutely hated above all else, was being cold. While it was easy enough to get into someone’s bed at night time, often during winter, she’d be cold during the daytime and evenings as well.
As such, it was extremely common to see Nicky sleeping in the sunlight during the day.
And then during those cold winter nights, Dad would always build a raging log fire. We were absolutely dumbfounded that Nicky would lie point blank in front of it for a hilarious amount of time, to the point where it would be physically painful for us to touch her fur because it was too hot.
After usually an hour or two, enough for a human to suffer second degree burns, Nicky would eventually realise she borderline cooked herself, and while panting furiously, would waddle over to her water bowl, drink nearly the whole thing, and then plop down at her previous position in front of the fireplace.
Finally, Nick always loved going for walks. It got to the point where we had to talk about walking, we’d have to spell ‘W-A-L-K’ (or say another word, like ‘perambulation’), because merely breathing the word would put Nicky into an absolute frenzy. We’d always walk a similar route, and Nicky would take it upon herself to rush up to and sniff the same posts the same time. I’m assuming that was the equivalent of doggy social media.
Nicky didn’t change the whole time she was was with us. She was a super energetic bundle of fur who would also dash up to greet us when we entered the house, and was always down for a game of chasey, or fetch.
When I left for Japan again in January last month, I gave her a very quick goodbye pat and told her I’d see her in a few months when I would be back for the next holiday. I had no idea I was giving her my final pats.
It all happened so quickly. A week after I left, she started experiencing seizures every evening. Each seizure weakened her further, and within the space of just over 2 weeks, she went from being perfectly normal and energetic, to being completely unable to walk. It was at this point that we had to make the difficult decision to send her on her way.
I was not prepared for this. I had always assumed that when it was Nicky’s time, it would be slow and very obvious from a long time coming. Enough for me to drop what I was doing and fly back so I could say goodbye. This ended up not being the case, and it’s something I’m still trying to come to grips with now. It happened all too quickly for me to process.
There’s a huge doggy shaped crater in our family now, and it’s going to take us a very long time for us to finally come to grips with it. My parents are saying the house feels so much more empty, and my sister keeps jokingly saying “lousy, lovable dog”.
Life moves in mysterious ways. At the very least, we should be very grateful we were able to spend 17 wonderful years with Nicky. She was 100% a dedicated member of our family and we all loved her very very much. As painful as it is now, we’re at least relieved she’s not in pain anymore and is in peace.
It definitely goes to show that you should never take anything for granted. Because it can be gone in the blink of an eye. If anyone reading this has a beloved pet of their own, please give them a big hug for me, and make sure you treasure every moment with them.
Thank you for everything Nicky. I love you.
- Published February 11, 2019
- Categories Personal