Remembering Niko

Remembering the journey

Niko Stories

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The tattoo I got in November 2009. The paw prints are taken from Niko's actual impressions (and shrunk down). He will walk with me forever.

This is the place I will record my many Niko stories, one by one. I have so many and I know it will take time to get them all posted.  If you knew him, and wish to share a story, please do in the comments section.

The Nicknames:

These stuck: Roo, Mr. Roo, Roo-ster, Big Guy, Happy Dog, Ebeneezer Sneezer, Sneezer, Ebeneezer, Sneezey Boy, Sweet Boy, Love Bug, Psycho, Neekers, Nikolas, Nikoli, Neeks, Border, Flag Boy, Beauty

These didn’t stick as well, but had good stories: Bread Stealer, Shark, Magellan

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Short Stories

Sneezer…. He loved his cool bed, and slept in our master bathroom prior to cancer, when I moved his cool bed next to my bed, and turned the whole house temp down for him. When he woke up, he would sneeze. Short, cute little sneezes. A few moments later,  he’d get up, shake, and get a good solid sneeze out, and come to the edge of the bed to get me. I loved waking up to his little sneezes. I miss that sound so much.

Racer…. He would love to go to the barn with me. He loved, even more, racing me up from the barn. He was much faster, so he always won. I got so sick of losing, so I’d make him sit and stay, just outside the barn. So he could see me walk up the hill. He would wait, and the moment I started to run, he would take that as his queue to bolt. He still beat me.

Protector…. Niko took my protection seriously. Sure, he seemed unassuming… friendly. He was, until someone would roughhouse with me. He would bark and growl and jump at the person, snapping  his teeth a little, just to scare them. Of course, I never was in danger, but had I been, I know my Roo was there to protect me.

Healer…. Niko hated when I was upset. He always wanted to fix it. As a teenager, your life is full of woes, and I cried in my room plenty. One day, Niko was in there with me, and I laid face down on my bed crying into my pillow about who-knows-what-earth-shattering-teenage-problem. Niko rushed to my side and forced his snout under my neck and pushed. He readjusted and pushed again, until he had me rolled over onto my back. He then licked my tears away. I thought it was a fluke, until he did it again, and again. How could that not cheer you up?

Longer Stories

Too Many Bratwursts!
Since the mid 90s, my mom (who is German) has an Oktoberfest. She hosts it at her house. It’s a great time for all. Niko used to LOVE it! he would make his rounds to every table (usually there are about 100 guests) and beg for bratwurst. How could people resist him? Well… they didn’t. I would always skip his meals on these days, as I knew he’d be well fed.

In 2004, Niko got especially lucky at the event. He made his rounds and was fed and pet and adored by many. After all the guests had left, we were looking around for him. We found him under a table in the garage. He was laying there with a full and un-eaten bratwurst. He was just too full to eat it, so he was carrying it around for later I guess. I’ve seen a dog carry around a lot of things, but an entire bratwurst! That was one FULL pup!!!!

A collage of Oktoberfest pictures from 2004, to his last in 2008.

Magellan (June 2009)

I decided to treat myself to a pedicure after work, prior to picking Niko up from my parent’s house (where he spent 4 days a week while I was in the office). As I was sitting in the nail salon about, 15 minutes away from my parent’s, with parafin wax on both my feet, I got a call from my mom. She asks if I had picked Niko up already. No – I had not – obviously! Why was she asking me this? My mom tells me she can’t find Niko ANYWHERE – that he’s gone. Fear and total panic set in. I told the nail salon that I had an emergency, peeled off the wax and threw a $20 bill at them. I went flying out the door and jumped in my car. I freaked out the entire way to my parents. “How do you lose my dog?!”  To make matters worse, Niko didn’t have the collar with his name tag on, so what if an unfamiliar person found him? What if he was picked up by the pound? He wasn’t current on his rabies (due to having cancer), so getting him back would have been difficult and might have meant vaccinating him – which would have been detrimental to his well being. What if he had tried to cross the road and been hit by a car? He couldn’t die like that!!! I began hyperventilating… the drive seemed to take forever with traffic. By the time I pulled into the driveway,  I had lost feeling in my hands and wrists. I was having a hard time even driving. As I pull in, I see Niko in the garage with my folks. I broke down completely and collapsed in the garage in tears. I have never been so scared in all my life, and this relief would take a few minutes to set in.

Apparently my parents had put him in their fenced backyard – but the gate was open. He slipped out and proceeded to walk down the fence line of the pasture, and then just kept on walking and shniffing. My mother finally spotted him from her car at a neighbors way behind them and gave him a lift back home just before I pulled in.

So Magellan is for Niko’s exploratory travels that day.

Shark
Me and Jonathan are watching a show called ‘Tuna Wranglers”. These guys have these big tuna pens. Sometimes a shark gets in there. They don’t want to shoot it and risk hitting a tuna, so they wrangle the shark out. When the guy grabs the shark, the shark squirms a lot. Sharks aren’t used to being grabbed! Niko would squirm the same way when Jonathan picked him up, so we started saying ”shark!’ whenever Jonathan picked him up to go up or down the stairs. He generally didn’t ‘shark out’ when I picked him up.

Video clip of the show here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIbGTwLGZNU

Start at 1 minute 44 seconds in to see when they start with the shark. 2 min 7 is the major shark squirm.

The Leaf

We were driving down Seneca Road one fall day in 2004. We were nearly to my parent’s house for a visit. Niko sat in the front seat (with his harness seatbelt, of course) facing forward. The leaves were all changing and many were falling on this slightly breezy day. One leaf was got caught in the air flow over my car. It was whisked over my hood and flew vertically over the windshield. Niko noticed it as it approached and his whole head tilted up as the leaf blew up over the top of the car and out of sight. This moment lasted all of a split second, but I can still see his expression as he watched this little leaf with such joy. This memory always warms my heart.

blanket jump 1994

Blanket Jumping

Niko used to LOVE to run and jump into a blanket. I would position him in one bedroom of the house, run to another, and call him to come running in. I’d hold up the blanket and he’d take a flying leap into it. In the day before digital cameras, I got only one picture of him doing this, but I can still picture him bounding through the door and taking that blind leap into the blanket. They were moments of pure joy. Joy that only a dog could probably every experience…. but he shared it with me.

Raincoats

The rain didn’t really bother Niko. He had a thick coat and the moisture generally didn’t make it down to his skin. As he got older though, he was less tolerant. He didn’t like it dripping into his ears. He would stop and shake his whole body every  10-20 yards. Niko also became very accustomed to keeping a schedule as he matured. If it was time for a walk, it was time for a walk. In May of 2009, we walked out the front door to a terenchal downpour. There was no sign of it letting up either. But it was walk time, and we weren’t going to be able to convince Niko to wait until later. Jonathan went and got a heavy duty trashbag. We fashioned a rain coat and rain hood out of it for Niko. It looked ridiculous. So ridiculous, that I laughed so hard I concerned a neighbor. I could barely speak, and literally had tears running down my face. It had been ages since I’d laughed that hard and it felt good. My boy was such a good sport too. His new wardrobe didn’t hinder him, and I think my laughter amused him. He happily marched out in the rain and we got in a full hour’s walk with optimal schniffing and only some wet paws and a wet tail.

rain gear

rain gear 2

When did you get so stupid?

For a period around 2003-2005, I was fortunate enough to bring Niko to work with me. He didn’t come every day, but some days he did and I think he was mostly bored. In 2004, a lady named Laura started working there. While she never cared much for male dogs (she preferred females), Niko was an instant hit with her. How could he not be. He was super charming, and was happy to have another woman to add to his admirers.

Laura began bringing in treats for Niko. She kept them in her office, and suddenly I found I much preferred hanging out across the hall in her doorway, then in mine. What a traitor. He knew when she arrived, he got a treat. Anytime he showed any additional attention, he got a treat. Any time she got up, he got a treat. Naturally, he put on weight. I then delivered the heartbreaking news to Laura that she could give him only 1-2 treats a day and that was it. Laura understood, but Niko did not. He would sit in her office, and look at her, then look at the box of treats. Back to her, and back to the treats. He tried and tried and tried, and she could not explain to him why she had suddenly ‘become so stupid’. He was clearly telling her, showing her, what he wanted, and she remained unresponsive. Lucky for her, he continued to love her despite the with holdings.

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The Dash Poem, by Linda Ellis

“I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Written by rememberingniko

January 21, 2010 at 3:26 am

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