Nikki spent her last day doing the things she loved.
She rolled around on her back on the grass in the sun. She chased balls, chewed on a stick, tried to make a break for it and dug a hole in the soft dirt in North Adams, Mass.,where we are parked for a volunteer project. She sat patiently for biscuits after her walks and begged for pretzels after dinner.
Nikki was 12, or 13, or 14, no one is really sure of her age. She was old for a dog, but her death came suddenly. She died Monday morning with her pack around her on a frantic drive to an emergency vet clinic an hour away.
She joined our pack at 9 months old, when Joe fell in love with the all black dog with the ice blue eyes staring out at him from a cage in the Auburn animal shelter.
She was striking and people would cross streets to ask the name of her breed. Part lab, part husky, maybe shepherd, but definitely all hound. The kind of dog that wasn’t above nosing through a bit of street trash or rubbing herself in deer scat.
Nikki was a gentle, faithful beast, a coward first class afraid of baby gates, the sound of keys or a newspaper, the stove, thunderstorms, fireworks, lakes, streams and the ocean.
Early on she was an escape artist, well known in the neighborhood for running out of any unlatched door, or when tethered in the backyard pulling on the steel cables so hard she broke them dragging the post behind her as she trotted happily up the street.
A clever girl, Nikki learned to roll on her back and rub the carabiner hooking her collar to the chain unhooking it to set her free. Once gone, Nikki would reappear two streets away hanging around the porch of a nice Chihuahua who was her friend.
Indoors, Nikki curled up behind Charley’s chair while she worked at home, watching for any movement that would indicate a walk was imminent. She slept on the floor at the foot of the bed, and kept up the practice in the motorhome.
Returning home from work, the pack often found Nikki wearing a guilty look as she slowly slunk off the couch as the car pulled into the driveway.
Nikki became a companion to Rusty and later Pocket, felines who tolerated her presence.
Nikki joined the pack on its adventures in rving enjoying sniffing new places, exploring the beach and mountains and meeting new people. She put up with traveling in the motorhome often trying to fit her 50-pound body onto Charley’s lap when the road was bumpy.
It was obvious this winter that age was beginning to take it’s toll on our Nik. Her walks were not so far, she tired easily and slept a lot more.
But on her last day, Nikki played with her pack, chasing sticks and balls, and rolling over for a belly rub.
We will miss her.