My Dog, My Best Friend, Has Passed Away
A Best Friend
In the world of animals, man's best friend is known as a dog. It's probably because a dog lives a simplistic life and no matter what your stature is or how you look, a dog who gets love, attention, and care is ever so grateful that they give back the same until the end. This brings me to Nikki, my dog.
Several years ago I became ill, sleeping long hours, constant headaches, and continual weakness. It was at this time I inherited Nikki. She was a mixed 4 year old, 20 pound mixed cocker breed. Her hind legs were longer than her front, she had a overhanging forehead. I wasn't much of a pet lover then, but she needed a home so reluctantly took her in.
In the first week of taking her in she tried to bite me..imagine the audacity of this little pooch trying to bite the hand that saved her. We quickly came to terms on this subject, with a little show of who's boss, and life went on- she responded well.
In the months to come something strange happened - Nikki grew on me. The more time we spent together the more I understood just how comforting a pet can be. You see, I stayed home a lot because of my illness. Isolated from social activities, void of human contact, so Nikki was a comfort to have around..she became a great companion in the process.
What I didn't realize is - I was about to learn a lot more about dogs than I planned on, so the story goes.
Nikki's Illness - What I Learned
I took Nikki to the groomers once a month. The groomer we used worked out of a veterinarians office close to our home. One day the groomer informed us that she was relocating her business to her home. I liked the groomer, so I continued taking Nikki to her. A strange thing happen after Nikki's first visit to the groomers new location (her home), Nikki came home sort of lethargic, continuously scratching herself, and just looking sickly. A few days past, she regained normality, so I passed it off as a bug of sorts.
The next month came and it was time for another grooming. I took her back to the same groomer, but this time I was curious about the environment inside her house. I silently gasped, the grooming area was so dark and dirty - how did I not inspect the condition of this house before subjecting Nikki to this..my gut told me Nikki was headed for more problems, I was right.
Soon after she became ill again, but this time the symptoms were much worse.
The scratching intensified, she lost her appetite and went from 20 to 14 pounds in a matter of weeks. This time the situation was serious - it was time to consult with a veterinarian.
Nikki hadn't eaten in three days, the doctor hydrated her, but Nikki refused solid food. Tests and blood work was done, but the decline in health was still a mystery.
I had became quite fond of this dog, she had become a companion, a friend, so I felt compelled to help look for answers.
As sick as I was we went to the vets everyday for her tests and hydration, as she had not eaten for 5-6 days now.
In researching, I came across something called Addison disease. This disease can be hard to diagnosis because it masks itself in other ways such as kidney failure or pituitary failure.
I approached the vet with the information I found, and coincidentally the vet had came to the same conclusion. Addison disease is the failure of the adrenal glands to produce a balance of chemicals required to survive - a potentially deadly disease.
The treatment was monthly injections of a shot called "DOCP." This injections would have to be given for as long as she lived. The financial burden wasn't too bad - around $50.00 a month.
We immediately started Nikki on these injections and all seemed well, but it wasn't.
The decline in Nikki's health was so severe that she was weak to eat. Her vital signs had stabilized, but she remained weak. I let Nikki sleep in my bed so as to monitor any abnormal activities. One night I felt her shake like she was scratching, but I later found out that she actually had a seizure - she also urinated in the bed.
Sunday Afternoon - I Was Scared to Death
It was a few days later, on a Sunday afternoon, that she uncharacteristically lay in her travel cage all day. As I lay on the couch to rest I heard a sudden rattle of the cage. I approached her cage and she was laying on her side having a seizure.
A seizure shocks the body forcing out liquids mainly from her bladder and mouth. As I held her in my arms she looked at me as to say "what is happening," all I could do is pose a threat to the man above, I said out loud " Ok God, if you're going to take her you better take care of her," like I was in any position to make a threat.
I rushed Nikki over to the emergency clinic where they stabilized her and cared for her through the night. I couldn't sleep a wink that night, not knowing if she would survive the ordeal. She did survive and was transported to our regular vet the next day. She started eating again and in a few weeks time regained most of her weight.
How Did a Pet Help My Health Condition?
I learned that "focus" can be a powerful tool.
As sick as I was, when Nikki was sick she became the center of my focus. I took her to the vet everyday, and this is no exaggeration - everyday. Being so sick myself, how could I muster enough energy to do this? The answer became clear months later. You see, the word focus means to zoom in on something. We focus on things everyday e.g., vacations, finances, weekend plans - this is good use of focus. On the other hand, we use this attribute in a negative way that makes a situation worse than it might be.
Before Nikki came into my life my focus was on me, my illness. What started as a positive search for answers somewhere took a turn into self-pity..basically digging a deeper hole than what it should be.
I often compare life to a jigsaw puzzle. You start with a few pieces that fit, then you have multiple pieces that don't. As time passes you find a few more pieces that fit until a picture takes shape. There comes a day when more pieces fit, the picture becomes clearer - this is life.
Researching Nikki's problem also opened the door to discovering some puzzling answers to my own health problems. I have told people countless time "we helped each other in mysterious, puzzling ways."
Nikki Passed Away on 1-5-2010 - I Miss Her Dearly
Life is strange, it delivers solutions in many different ways.
In this crazy world where we run around looking for this and that. If problems strike sit back, take a seat and maybe..just maybe, your Nikki will come to you.
In November 2009, Nikki became ill with internal problems - it was hit and miss, some days looked better, while others didn't.
It was January 5, 2010 that Nikki became very weak that day and I just had a feeling it might be time. Approximately 7:10 P.M. that evening, Nikki slowly looked for a dark empty corner of the house to curl up in. She found a small space in a closet. I when over and picked her up. I cradled her in my arms, she looked straight into my eyes, as I did to her, and it almost seemed as she was telling me "I'm ready to go now, I'm going to miss you - I love you."
A few seconds later her eyes closed and it ended - her life had come to an end. No more pain, no more suffering - she was at peace.
I didn't especially like dogs when this started. When this chapter came to an end I understood and fully appreciated the bond others discovered between a pet and their owner.
Coping with the death of a pet, a companion is hard. Years after her death I still feel both sides of emotions - happy times and the loss...is this what coping is? I miss Nikki, it hurts, but life has set the rules of the game as such. Every dog owner who had a bond with their deceased companion expresses the same remorse.
Even though this piece of the puzzle, in my life, is gone forever - I am thankful for it. Why is a dogs life so short compared to ours, especially when they provide such happiness? Don't know...after all this I feel like I'm only a piece of a bigger puzzle I guess - I didn't create the game, I just play in it.
Remembering Nikki 1-5-2016
Its been six years since Nikki passed away and it's still a somber day for me.
Some say "it's only a dog", and in this universal sphere it must be, but in my little sphere of existence Nikki had meaning. As most pet owners can attest, we are probably the only person who remembers our little creatures even existed.
I have adopted another dog since then, her name is GiGi. She's a mix of Jack Russel and Chihuahua. She weighs about 15 pounds, big eyes, and is smart as a whip. I love GiGi dearly, but there is a special place in my heart for Nikki. I guess I came to the conclusion that the pain associated when that fateful day comes is still worth the pleasure of dog ownership - even as I still feel the sadness of losing Nikki.
Why after six years do i still shed tears over this loss? I believe in part it's due to the two months of suffering Nikki went through. I question myself - could I have done more? Should I have done more in searching for solutions? Did I do everything possible to try and help Nikki find a cure? The honest answer is - no.
Death grants no second chances. You're left with memories, and hopefully you have a lot of them filed away to fill the emptiness in days to come.
On the anniversary of Nikki's death I always take one hour before and after the time she passed, on 1-5-2010 @ 7:10 P.M. A time to remember, to laugh, to cry, and just spend a little time with her in my own way.
To my dear Nikki.."even though the rest of the world knows you not, I will remember you forever - remember that Daddy always loved you and will love you always".