|Nick The Dog. He was loved.|
Five days ago we said goodbye to Nick, our dog and best friend for almost 13 years.
He was maybe 2 when we rescued him. We drove more than 2 hours from Minneapolis to a shelter in Amery, Wis., in pursuit of a dog with border collie in him. I had shared a life with a border collie mutt years before and was won over by their intelligence. But when we met Nick, he was extremely timid, so much so that I didn't want him. He seemed joyless. He didn't play. He was shelter-shocked.
That afternoon, we left him behind at the shelter. Driving back to the Twin Cities, Mason and I argued. He wanted this dog, originally named Sailor. It seemed fitting, since sailing had figured prominently in our former life. After 10 minutes of arguing, Mason turned the truck around, and Sailor came home with us. He soon became Nick, named after my father, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a couple of years before.
Soon after we adopted Nick, I got to talk with the man who had surrendered him. He'd rescued Sailor/Nick from a bad situation. Someone had been keeping him in a baby playpen where he couldn't stand upright, and was trying to sell him off as a pure-bred border collie.
Nick was clearly scarred from those times. He was skittish and very slow to meet new people and dogs. He barked at all children and tried to herd them. He barked at and nipped mailmen; he ran from blimps.
Eventually, we taught him to play, though never as much as a typical border collie. But Nick was absolutely devoted to us. Mason may have been his favorite (table scraps, treats and more table scraps), but I know he loved us both. And we loved him.
|In Minnesota, we'd walk to a nearby park every day,|
and Nick loved to swing with Mason.
For the past year or more, Nick declined with dementia, failing hips and eventually kidney disease. First, he couldn't get on the couch any more, then, we had to block him from climbing our treacherous spiral staircase. One too many times, he had fallen down them in the middle of the night.
We struggled with the decision over when to let him go. It should be a struggle, right? We both support assisted suicide, but it shouldn’t be too easy.
Five days ago, a very friendly horse veterinarian came to our house, unphased by 2.5 miles of rough dirt road. Nick had been napping in his bed on the living room floor. We showered him with treats and kisses, and watched him die. It was hard, but also a relief.
For five days now, we have struggled to adjust. It will take more time. He’s buried across the road in what we call "The Meadow,” where we feed the deer. Mason built one hell of a coffin for him. We buried him with his bed, favorite toy and the U.S. Postal Service card that warned of a "dangerous dog" at our address in Minnesota. We can see him from our bedroom, and from the kitchen window.
Thank you, Nick, for making our lives so much richer. We will miss you forever.