Travels with Nikki

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When we pull into a new place one of the first things people notice about us is Nikki.

Nikki is our all black dog with sky blue eyes. Little kids ask if she’s a wolf. Adults will cross hot parking lots to ask us about her breed.

That’s easy. Nik is an all-American mutt, part lab, part husky, maybe a little shepherd, and all fraidy cat. She  is a 50-pound lap dog, at least she would be if she could fit on your lap.

We were told she was nine months old when we rescued her from the pound. The trouble is Joe and I can’t agree when that was. Did we get her before 2005 or after? Either way the dog that used to pull my arm out of the socket on walks now is an old lady.

Before we went on the road people asked us if we would travel with our big dog. Of course! We never thought about leaving her behind, even if you have to be careful not to step on her in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom,

On travel days Nik spends her time trying to crawl up on my lap or sitting on the floor between the two seats. If you drift into the rumble strips, Nik jumps up wanting to know what’s going on. Only wrapping her in a “thunder shirt” calms her down.

Once we park, Nik takes a walk around our new campground checking out the smells. Then she crawls under the motorhome for a nap.

Nik got a full check up before we left on the road. She’s a bit slim and a little gray around the muzzle. All in all, not bad for an old broad.

We were parked in a KOA in Lillian, Alabama on the Gulf Coast last week when we noticed Nikki wasn’t herself. She wasn’t eating or drinking much. She didn’t want to play with a tennis ball. She certainly didn’t want to walk very far and she panted, a lot. Was it the heat? Old age or something more?

The next morning Nik’s back legs wobbled and collapsed as we were encouraging her to drink.

My first thought was heart trouble. This is it we’ll be putting the old girl down soon.

Joe called three local vets before finding one able to see her at the Westside Animal Clinic over the border in Pensacola, Fla.

Our old girl gave a loud yelp when the doc touched her back haunches during the examination.

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Joe and Nikki waiting for the vet.

An x-ray and blood work later, showed that Nik is healthy, better than most dogs her age. But she has arthritis in her back. After a shot and pills for the pain we were on our way.

Nik still doesn’t pull your arm out of the socket on a walk. But, she chases balls again jumping to catch them in midair. If I let her go, the bunnies roaming the grounds of our latest stop in Dunedin, Fla., wouldn’t stand a chance.

Our old companion is feeling much better, and so are we.


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