A love story between a woman and a dog.
The woman is my sister, Pam, and her husky, Nickoli.
They met 10 years ago.
At that time, Pam had recently ended a long term rocky relationship. She always loved dogs and felt the need to have one in her life.
There was a shelter not to far from where Jim and I lived, so Pam called me up and asked if I wanted to take a ride out with her and help her pick out a dog.
I was happy to help out. My daughter, Jessica came too.
We drove out to the shelter with high expectations. There were little dogs, fat dogs, and a dog with a broken hip; none of which seemed to appeal to Pam. She decided that she wanted a bigger dog.
The woman told us that three of their dogs were being shown at the local PetSmart store in hopes that passersby would want to adopt one of them. They were all bigger dogs, one of them being a husky.
I don’t even remember what kind of breeds the other dogs were; I only remember seeing the 4 year old husky - Nickoli. He was a beauty. He sat tall and proud and had the bluest eyes I ever saw. And when Pam walked up to him, he leaned his head on her leg.
It was love at first sight.
Pam kissed Nickoli all over his face, petted him, talked to him, and walked him up and down the aisles in the store.
She decided that THIS was the dog that she wanted. She told the pet adoption agency and they said, “Why don’t you think about this. Go out to lunch and talk it over, come back in an hour and if you still want Nickoli, he’s yours. We’ll hold him for you.”
So we left the store, got in the car, Pam smoked a cigarette, then said, “What the hell am I doing? I don’t need an hour to decide. I want Nickoli.”
With that we all trooped back in the store and she said, “I don’t need to think about it. I definitely want Nickoli.”
We piled into the car, Pam and I in the front seat, Jessica in the back seat with Nickoli. Jessica later told me that it was a little scary sitting next Nickoli as he towered over her. We really were taking a chance, but Nickoli behaved himself. He just sat in the car like he belonged, taking turns between staring out the window and at Jessica.
Pam said she only questioned herself once when she was driving home and looked at this huge dog in her rearview mirror and thought, “What the heck did I just do?”
But Nickoli was a good dog from that day forward.
He was her companion, her buddy, who she talked to when she got home from work, the first face she saw when she got up in the morning, and the last face she saw when she went to bed.
Nickoli weighed about 50 pounds when Pam first got him, and grew to about 100 pounds through the years. Yes, it’s true, he was slightly overweight, but he was a very big husky, tall AND long.
Pam, Nickoli (sticking his tongue in MY EAR), me (before I was a blond)
We had lost our mother almost a year before Pam got Nickoli, so her death was still a raw tender scab on our hearts. Quite often Pam would lie on the floor and cry, clinging to Nick, somehow drawing comfort from this big dog who would tolerate her tears on his fur.
There was nothing Pam wouldn’t do for him. She frequently baked him home made treats so he would not go without a snack.
Pam was a good doggie mommy. When Nickoli’s health started to fail, she did research and found homeopathic ways to either help or cure his ailments.
Two years ago Nickoli was diagnosed with discoid lupus. The vet said that the only way to treat it was with steroids. Unfortunately, that was very bad for an old dog. Pam did some research and found some natural supplements that she gave to Nickoli. In a matter of months it cleared up the problem.
A year ago Nickoli started losing weight. Pam took him into the vet for a check up. The vet said that Nickoli had cancer of the para-thyroid gland.
They could remove it in a younger dog, but with Nick’s age working against him, they didn’t think he could survive surgery. Without surgery he’d have MAYBE a year to live.
Pam would not accept that.
Again she did research and found studies done on terminal cancer patients who became CURED from eating cottage cheese and flaxseed oil 3x/day.
So that’s what she mixed up for Nicholi to eat.
Also to fatten him up, she began cooking his meals of beef or chicken with whole grain rice.
Slowly Nickoli began to gain weight. He was getting better.
What finally got to Nickoli that Pam couldn’t fight?
Degenerative myelopathy which is similar to multiple sclerosis in humans. Unfortunately there is no cure, natural or otherwise, for this disease. Nickoli loss the use of his back legs, couldn‘t get up and his spine was degenerating.
Pam knew it was time to say goodbye to her best friend.
She called the vet and asked her please to make a home visit.
The vet said she would come on Wednesday.
On Monday Pam started to prepare Nickoli.
She told him how much she loved him and that when he died he would be running in green pastures.
Wednesday came too soon.
Nickoli was just lying on the floor. Pam got down on her knees, rubbed her boy’s ears, kissed his face and said, “I love you Nickoli. Very soon you will be running in that green pasture. I know I will see you on the other side. Please greet me at the gates.”
Nickoli looked her intensely in the eyes as if he understood her every word. Then he licked her hand and put his head back down.
The vet injected a shot to put Nick to sleep.
A few minutes later she injected the shot to put him down.
All the while, Pam, the vet, and her assistant were all crying.
When Nick’s heart stopped beating, the vet went to gather him up.
“Wait,” Pam said. “I want to bless him.”
She took some holy water that she had nearby and blessed Nickoli, and asked God to accept Nickoli in His holy kingdom.
The vet and assistant bent over to pick Nickoli up.
Pam said, “No. Let me carry him out. It’s only right.”
So she lifted the big dog up and carried him to the van, placing him gently in the back. She leaned over and kissed him one last time, whispering in his ear, “You’re already running in that green pasture Nickoli! I love you!”
It has been about 6 weeks since Nickoli’s death, and I know Pam misses him profusely. No dog will ever take his place.
Pam knew she wanted to get another dog. She thought she would wait a few months. But she is a dog person and she realized how empty her heart and her house seemed without a four-legged furry friend.
Will she find another dog to fill her heart?
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”