Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nikki's last days

She made out that she hated that new big ol' pup, but when Mookie passed away in March 2007, try as she might not to do it - they got closer. He was still trying to get her to play with squeaky toys that were larger than her head. She would avoid him on the steps, but we would still find them sleeping together on the landing. One time I thought Gohan would squish her, but she never moved.

She took up the old Mookie pasttime of stealing Gohan's richer, non-senior food. However when Mookie left, there was a blankness in her eyes that never went away. Rarely could I get her to play the silly puppy games that until recently she still enjoyed - running around in circles, dancing on hind legs for treats. I assumed it was old age. Her hearing was still fine and she had a good appetite, although she had long since stopped walking her daily mile and would only walk just a few houses away from home. Yet she still would come running home at three sharp claps of my hands.

In early December 2007, we took a trip to accompany our daughter Stephanie to her first professional conference - the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in Atlanta. While away, the dogs stayed with Melanie of Spirit of Phoenix, and received the best of care. When we returned, Melanie informed us that Nikki was up to her old "stealing Gohan's food" tricks again. We laughed and took them home.

Two weeks later, she was listless and seemed to lose her way when I clapped for her to come home. Confused, she went to several homes doors. I had to pick her up and bring her home. I would find her staring at me when I would enter the house - I came to realize that she didn't always recognize me. Her hearing faded quickly. That week I began facing the inevitable - that at 16 and a half years old, my 'baby girl' Pommie was dying. It was an end of the best time of my life with those dogs and I was not looking forward to it. Gohan began moping around the house and Nikki avoided us all. Often hiding under a desk or bed.

On the Friday before Christmas I woke up extremely disturbed. I could see Nikki from my bed and she wasn't moving. I knew she wasn't dead, but I dreaded what I might have to do. She hadn't been exhibiting pain and my husband said there will come a time when we would know that there was nothing else to be done. When I finally pulled myself from the bed three hours later, Nikki woke up. I carried her outside and she carried on her ritual as if in a doggie mime act - nothing really happened. I carried her into the house and placed her by her food. She made like she was eating and drinking, but actually did neither. After her little act to satisfy me, she walked upstairs and plopped in her bed. She promptly began to whine.

I picked her up to comfort her, but that didn't last long. She wanted to get down and take her regular place under my desk as I worked. However, she didn't stop whining. Gohan looked helpless and that was the way I felt. I called my husband and told him "I think Nikki is dying." I tried to be matter of fact, but it was one of the absolute worse things I've been through in a while. I realized later that I had cried the entire day. She walked around for a while and Gohan kept his distance. At about 4 pm she bumped into the bookcase and stood there, probably realizing she was blind. She tried to make her way under the bed, but I wouldn't let her go. I placed her in her bed. She got up. Finally, she just laid down next to it.

I placed my hand on her head and told her it was okay to leave. It would be okay and she would be with Robin, Mommie, Winky Dinky Dawg, Squeeky Kitty, and her pal Mookie again. It was 4:57pm. Gohan sniffed her and followed me into the office. At 5 my husband walked in the door and said Nikki is gone. I think she waited for him to come home. As I said, it was a great era.