A tribute to Nikkia (1996 - 2006)
This is a tribute to my dog Nikkia, who had to be put to sleep on March 4, 2006.
We first got Nikkia on Thanksgiving Day in 1996, when she was about 4 months
old. We had gotten a border collie puppy (Mazama) four months earlier, and came
to the conclusion that because of his boundless energy, he needed a playmate.
It was also to take some of the pressure off us to constantly entertain him. At
their initial meeting the night before Thanksgiving, they seemed to get along
Mazama was such a wonderful puppy, we wondered how we would ever love a second
dog as much. Nikkia must have taken that as a challenge, because she quickly
proved to be the sweetest dog you could hope for. Every dog owner thinks their
dog is the best, but we were fortunate to have Nikkia – she truly was a special
dog. She was a chow-chow mix, and people always asked us what she was mixed
with. Of course we didn’t know, but we joked that it was sweet potato because
of how sweet she was.
When she was a couple of years old, we took her to dog show for mutts at a local
nursing home, to entertain the residents. On that day, the judges of the event
knew their business; they awarded her the “Most Personality”. It probably
helped that when they were reviewing all the dogs, Nikkia thought that was the
proper time to lick the judge’s hands.
She had some very amusing personality traits. She was always very happy. When
she was busily chewing a bone, which she did very frequently, just saying her
name would cause her tail to wiggle excitedly. Actually this would happen just
about any time you said her name aloud, regardless of what she was doing. In
fact, she was so adorable, when she did something naughty and we tried to scold
her, she would just hear her name and get excited and wiggle her whole body. It
made it virtually impossible to yell at her, but fortunately this was very
rarely needed anyway. If she was extra-happy while you were petting her she
would make some low grunting noises, almost like a pig. This of course led us
to refer to her as a truffle pig.
Like many dogs, she seemed to think that squirrels were the evil minions of the
underworld. Of course we have squirrels and raccoons living in our backyard, so
this caused her all kinds of anxiety whenever they made an appearance. About 4
years ago we got a rabbit – Gretzky. He was soon followed by a second rabbit –
Sasquatch. For almost a year Nikkia was convinced that these rabbits were some
close cousin to squirrels, and needed to be removed from the house and/or
exterminated immediately. Eventually she got over this anxiety and came to
accept the bunnies.
The other fond memory I have of her interactions with other wildlife was her
bird chasing. You may have seen swallows when they’re flying very low over a
large field. Nikkia would love this, and would wear herself out running across
a field chasing them. The swallows never even seemed to notice, they are so
quick Nikkia would never even get close to them.
Nikkia loved the snow, probably as a result of her chow heritage. It was
probably her favorite place to be. She would run around and throw herself face
first in the snow to munch on a mouthful of snow. She loved it so much; I made
it a point to take her up to the mountain at least once per winter.
Like all dogs, she loved going to the coast, and running around on the beach. It
was second only to her love of running around in snow. If she could find
something dead to roll around on at the beach, that was just great (for her at
least). In fact, she loved to roll around in the sun. Even at home in our yard
(where for the most part there are no dead animals) she would love to find a
spot and roll around on her back. It was even better if I came over and rubbed
her belly while she was doing it. Pure ecstasy!
Speaking of ecstasy, every dog likes to get treats, but few dogs went into quite
the frenzy that she did when treats were involved. To reinforce training, we
typically would make our dogs do a trick before we would give them a treat.
Nikkia would typically get so excited she would try to do all her tricks at
once in anticipation of our command. Imagine a dog offering her paw to “Shake”,
while simultaneously doing a “Down” and a “Roll Over” and you have some idea
what it looked like. She practically turned herself inside out in her delirium.
Another game we would play involving treats was “Find It”. We would hide a bunch
of treats in a room, and then bring the dogs in and tell them “Find It, find
it”. Nikkia would practically run into walls looking for treats but invariably
she would find more of them than Mazama.
A time I will miss her most is every time the doorbell rings. All dogs react to
that noise and bark fiercely. Nikkia would let out a howl that could probably
be heard several blocks away. I’m not sure wolves howl with as much intensity.
Besides chewing on bones, stuffed animals were one of her favorite toys.
Unfortunately they didn’t last very long in her presence; as soon as she got a
hold of one she would work feverishly to open it up and tear out all the
stuffing. Since this would have been an expensive way to keep her entertained,
we discovered a much cheaper toy – cardboard. Both Nikkia and Mazama love to
tear up and shred cardboard. If you don’t mind a little bit of a mess in your
house this is a very cheap way to entertain your dogs. Every empty box is a
brand new dog toy, and believe me they love it.
I’m one of those people that loves all dogs, but I have to say that Nikkia was
one of the most special dogs that ever lived. We’ll miss you Nik.