My Dog Nicky
Reflections of my childhood...
There was never a time that I don’t remember Nicky. We must have gotten that little rat terrier soon after our move out of the projects and into our permanent little house which became more affectionately known as home, a small house, with a path out back that my parents built into a lasting memento to our family’s heritage. While I am able to retrieve from my mind much of the memories of my early childhood, some things still remain mysteriously incomplete. Thus, the formal or actual acquisition of our most honored and respected family pet, Nicky, a small black and white rat terrier that was loved and cared for almost equally with us kids.
that small dog proceeded to jump up and bite me through the upper lip
I felt particularly fond of Nicky which may have actually developed from a more healthy ‘respect’ for his territory and his ability to protect himself. I remember hearing my mother speak of a time that I failed to recognize Nicky’s space and the story goes that I was found striking that little dog across the head with a stick. Upon which that small dog proceeded to jump up in my face and bite me through the upper lip. Like I say some things I don’t remember very well in my childhood and this just happens to be one of the instances, but my mother often used this example to help teach me to respect and appreciate the space of others.
Nicky would help me clean my plate so I could have dessert
Usually a quit little dog, around mealtime Nicky became more and more noticeable and eventually mom would end up putting that little mongrel out on the back porch so the rest of the family could enjoy our meals. I do remember times that Nicky would help me clean my plate so I would be able to have dessert. Back then everybody fed the table scraps to the dog and Nicky was always happy to accommodate. He would eat just about anything and often help me with my oatmeal at breakfast time during my early childhood. Mom recalls the times I would take a bite then share a bite with Nicky. When I ask “when was Nicky’s birthday,” and no one could say for sure, I offered to share mine with him.
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Nicky wouldn’t share his supper with any other dog
Once my dad brought home a new little puppy for me Not that I was tired of Nicky, but I had to share him with the rest of the family and I just thought I should have a dog all my own. It was a little chow puppy and I named him Pal. Nicky was okay with Pal, but he wouldn’t share his supper with any other dog which Pal learned rather quickly. The dogs play well but Nicky soon established his dominance. Everything Nicky did, Pal would also try to do.
Nicky was on that rat like a duck on a June bug
We had a pile of old lumber left over after a major remodeling of our small home making the house half again as large as original. Mom wanted dad to sort through the old boards and savage what dad needed to keep and burn the rest. Of course the three boys had to help their dad as well as Nicky and the pup. As we sorted through the boards and the dogs snooped around a large rat bite Pal on the nose and started to run across the street. Nicky was on that rat like a duck on a June bug, catching that old rat in the nape of the neck and shaking it to death. Dad said Nicky had broken the rat’s neck. It just lay in the road with its tongue hanging out. Dad picked it up by the tail and threw it across the road in the bushes.
later that day, Pal died
We took the pup to the vet, but later that day, Pal died. Dad and I took him in an old cardboard box and buried him beside the old outhouse. I missed my puppy, and was glad that Nicky had taken care of that old rat, and I guess my interest was rekindled in that brave little rat terrier.
I never found out just how old Nicky was...
Nicky grew in age as the rest of us did and maybe faster. My sister married and started her family, and Jim and Jack graduated high school and join the service and that just left mom and dad and me… oh yea, and Nicky. My dad got sick in 1960 and in December of that year my dad died. It was never the same around the house with Peggy, Jim and Jack gone, and now dad. Just mom and Nicky and I, where once the house had seemed so full of hope and life. A few months passed and one morning mom found Nicky, lifeless and laying on his little rug on the back porch. Mom said she felt he had died because he missed dad as much as we did. We both just held each other and cried a while. We had experienced so much in such a short time. Later that day I buried that brave little pet that was so much a part of our family beside Pal. I never found out just how old Nicky was, but I was seventeen and now I alone was suddenly the man of the house.