That Day Came: My Dog is Old

NikkiThe first moment I saw my puppy in the pet store (because you were still allowed to sell dogs in the pet store when I was 17-years-old) is forever etched in my mind. My families old dog Spunky a Chihuahua Terrier had passed away a few years earlier but I had never known her as puppy, that I can remember. Spunky was cute but she was my Mom’s dog. Nikki, the puppy I saw in the pet store for the first time became my dog and my Dad’s. She snuggled with me and came to me for attention and went to my Dad for rough housing and runs.

The first time I saw Nikki in the pet store with my brother’s I knew she was ours. At the cash register I picked her up and held her fluffy soft miniature body with floppy ears against my neck and as I petted her and hushed her wimpers with ” Shhhh… it will be alright” your going home now” she began to relax in my arms. She was tiny and fury with a bare pink tummy and floppy ears. She was also the runt of the litter and was a scrappy puppy fending off her 2 furrier brothers. When we took her home I placed her in her small crate in the side of our van and later realized how scared she must have been in there. Then when we arrived home I took her out of her crate and place her against my neck and carried her inside. The whole family gathered around her on the living room floor to coo and remark how cute she was.

When it seemed she was having trouble wondering who she should go to she climbed into my crossed legs and ever since has been my girl. She chewed through Nyla bones like you wouldn’t believe and my favorite hoody had strings on it that she also used to teethe. She would claw her way up the front of the coach and sit on me when I lay on the couch in our old house and she would snuggle in and chew the hoody strings.

The first time she saw herself in the mirror was a big surprise and she wondered who that other dog was in the room but she was smart and that wonder didn’t last long. And the first time I took her to sleep on my bed she would nip at my toes that were under the covers until she discovered what those 2 points beneath my covers were. I would wake up many mornings with little Nikki on my chest or on my legs stretched out and as she got bigger it became impossible for her to share my twin bed and she slept on my parents bed or would try to fit her entirely too big body into her crate, her rump end hanging out. When we moved to a new house, she somehow burrowed her way under my parents bed and when she got to fat for that she slept beside my Dad on the floor.

I have a great deal of memories with Nikki — walking her in the park when I first became ill for 30 minutes a few times a week, Nikki running her heart out with my Dad, Nikki climbing into my lap or sitting up and straight like a little human in my arms, Nikki knowing when I was crying and coming over to comfort me, playing “greedy dog” with her squeeky toys, and Nikki keeping 2 balls to herself at once as we would at our on peril, try to steal one or both balls back.

Nikki also loved to beg and I remember sneaking her treats every night at supper without even knowing it, I think the family did that. She wanted a treat every time she came in from the outside and had a  thing for sneaking out the back yard down the alley until someone would have to go and get her back. I remember her getting lost and always coming right back home. She always knew where she lived. I remember her making dogs 3 times her size ( she is a medium breed) tremble in fear and her utter hate of poodles and “frufee” dogs.

We had to lock her up when company came. She is a pack dog and loves her family, but not anyone else, especially not with curly hair. I remember when she accepted Grandma and Baba into the pack. I remember how she used to try to usurp Nathan from his place in the pack because he was the youngest child. And I remember the day she became old and sickly.

It was just this year. She started to stay downstairs and wouldn’t come up off the coach. Her paws all began to swell up and she wouldn’t eat. Rheumatoid arthritis the vet told us and gave us steroids for her but we are finding they only sort of help her. She painfully and carefully awakes from sleep and hobbles to her water dish. We give her a steroid but still she is in pain. Her tail which always wagged, isn’t wagging anymore, it is slumped and hunched much like she is. She seems happy a lot of the time and just likes to be petted. She sleeps and hobbles, trying to follow you around but it is difficult to watch when she can barely make it up 3 shallow stairs.

How can something so alive and frisky have her day come. Her rheumatoid arthritis hit like that and she went from being a middle-aged dog to an old dog of 12-years. The years passed by slowly it seemed as if we were on a giant Ferris wheel that one day reached the old and crickety chair at the bottom of the wheel. How did she get so old I wonder? She has good breeds in her that can live to 20-years, but I don’t know if that will happen.

She is old, that day came for her and with that day the reminder that in life many things, even our own human lives, are temporary. It is difficult to see my old friend in pain, she is a puppy to me still. She gave me so much now I give to her all I can, hoping to ease her suffering. It doesn’t seem right or fair that any of us should age from such glorious days of youth to become nothing more than memories. And animals, I am told, have no soul so what becomes of them? Do they fade into nothingness? For there will never be any animal like my Nikki again. She won’t be resurrected. She will simply go back to God.


Everything will be Alright!

Things have not been alright lately if I am honest with you and you probably got that from my last post. But I am always surprised how life can come up behind you and surprise you and just be better than you ever thought possible in your lowest times. My revelation has not come from other people, it has not come from some huge event happening in my life, and it has not come from a place I expected to come from. Instead, my epiphany, has come from the little things in life and moving from day to day experiencing life. I have just had these tiny pinpoints in time where I have felt relieved and not tense and for a moment at peace.

First, I think having a pet you can cuddle up into helps anybody. Having your dog lay beside you or on top of you (as pets will do) can cause the strangest sense of peace in your body. My mom swears she will never get another dog after our family pet Nikki but I contest, especially if I am still living at home (and indebt as I am I just may!). She may be hairy and go crazy whenever someone goes by our house but one pet down her coat and one lick on my cheek from her and I am okay – the stress of the moment is released and I go back to my work feeling completely comfy and not so alone because of the fury little thing sitting next to me.

One of the other little things I appreciate is prayer. Maybe atheists think I am talking to no one when I pray to God but when I pray to him “God, I am overwhelmed please take my problems and my life and be in control,” it feels to me as if the biggest weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. I can breath easy and relax. I believe that it is God helping me get through a tough situation but you also might consider the fact that just saying aloud that you can’t handle things and that you need help can be a huge relief on you. The Truth of everything becomes something you do not have to carry inside anymore, it is out in the open even if you never even really never told anybody.

Another thing that has lead to some stress relief is well relief from the stress of shopping. I have learnt something about myself that like a druggie in some respects, I am always looking for that high in life for those good time feelings. I do not do drugs and occasionally I have a night of some fun drinking with some friends but what I am referring to is those natural pleasurable endorphins that you may get from heart pumping exercise, sudden and short-term bursts of stress, sex, and for me shopping too. Everybody has their thing; but I am just so happy to be free of shopping. Not to feel like I have to buy something every time I see something I like, not to be ruled by those feelings. It is actually nice to look at stuff on the internet and say ” No Thank You” in my head, ” I don’t need that right now, I have lots.” It is a release from pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends and go back to who I am, just the girl who likes to dress classy and be a little trendy. You know chic but on a budget. I do not have to be embarrassed by all the clothes or shoes I am buying and  a lot of what I have I can just wear again. Now the time may come when I curse this, and say well I really need this but cannot afford it. But just like anything incentive in shopping is key. When you have the incentive to save up for something it holds a whole lot more meaning for you and you wear that item more and care about that item more. Plus, you waste less money on things that really are not right for you and just end up in the Goodwill bag anyways. As my mom says, clothes go away, fashion is always changing, and I have found sight of a woman who has control over her shopping habits and can say no. Now I think I will have to find my endorphins somewhere else, I am not sure yet but I have some ideas! Then again maybe we only need endorphins once and awhile and for the rest of the time their is chocolate and dogs.

Another of the little happy everyday things that make me happy our my friends. I have been so stressed out by this CAD course I have been taking and the impending work I would have had to do to get into my Master’s program, I have not really had the time to see them a whole lot. So I am excited to be having a friend over for a wine night, and having a birthday at the Druid with some friends, and spending time with my boyfriend who is just coming up to Edmonton as we speak. When I get all stressed out and madly text or call my boyfriend who works up North, he always tells me ” Everything is going to be alright.” And those words are the best words in the world, cause immediately I feel safe and secure and I know exactly why I am dating him and not the other plethora of men who are out there right now.

Being thankful for the little things in life, going back to the basics can ease stress tremendously. Life is never going to be stress free and there will be times when that stress is worse than other’s but if you think of the small and good things in your life and focus on them I think you will feel much better and be able to handle your stress that much more.