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November 7, 2009

Nick—Goodbye to Our Friend

Filed under: Travel — anotherheader @ 3:08 am


Nearly thirteen years ago Becky and I stopped by the Peninsula Humane Society to look at the dogs.  Becky’s old dog Sam had just passed and though we told ourselves that we weren’t ready for a new dog; we were just looking.  None of the dogs seemed right.  They barked and were easily distracted.  In the back there was one big black dog in a cage that watched us walk in.  When we came close, he moved close to fence so we could scratch behind his ears.  We were looking for a female dog, around 60 lb, and short haired.  The dog, given the name “Mikey” by the PHS staff, didn’t fit those requirements.  But, as it worked out, he chose us and we chose him.  Not that we didn’t have our doubts.  The PHS required an interview with the dog before we could take him home.  During the interview, Mikey crawled along the floor across the floor to get to us.  We learned that he had been picked up on the streets of East Palo Alto.  His confidence had been shattered.  We put a hold on Mikey for 24 hrs.  Later we decided to take the chance and committed to adopting him.  It turned out that Mikey had Kennel Cough so we had to wait for it to clear before we could pick him up.

It was Christmas Eve when we were able to pick Mikey up.  On the way out of the PHS, goats in a cage nearby randomly swirled in Mikey’s direction and he cowered and submissively urinated.  He was so timid and frightened and we ended up having to carry him to the truck.  Maybe a 60 lb dog would have been a good idea after all!


Nick at the camp

When we got home, Mikey went into the door to the garage and into the house immediately.  He was not going to leave.  He knew this was his home.

We changed Mikey’s name to “Nick” as in St. Nick.  He was our dog.  Eventually, Nick gained his confidence.  He clearly had been neglected and even the concept of a toy was foreign to him.  It didn’t take him long to learn and he proved to be a loyal, loving dog.  Still, he wasn’t going to leave the house if he wasn’t on a leash.  He wanted to be at the house.  He wanted to be with us.  He didn’t want to be back on the streets.


Nick's triumphant return from British Columbia

The years passed by.  When he was younger, Nick used to run the trails with us, sometimes following us as we rode our bikes, but more often than not leading the way.  After his knees failed and he had surgery, his trail days were over.

Nick was his our constant companion on our road trips.  At first he was reluctant to ride in the truck.  Eventually, he didn’t want to be left behind and he learned to enjoy the journey.  Nick marked his territory across a wide swath of the Western United States.

We got the bad news about Nick in May.  After a bout of blood in his urine we learned that he had tumors in his kidney and lungs.  The vet gave him 3 months to a year to live.  With a long trip scheduled for BC, we weren’t sure whether he would be able to make it.  About two weeks before the trip, things turned bad.  On a Thursday in June, we scheduled a mobile vet to come to house and put him down on Saturday.  It was crushing to think of losing him.  But, in the next day he snapped back and we called off the Grim Reaper at the last moment.  Soon Nick was filling good enough to go on our long trip to British Columbia this summer.  He had a great time hunting for bears, thankfully unsuccessfully, in BC.  Maybe hunting bears was on Nick’s “Bucket List.”


Nick on his last day

In the recent weeks, Nick’s health has been declining.  In the last couple of days he started vomiting, stopped eating, and asking for his walks.  Today, we again called the mobile vet, a.k.a., the Grim Reaper.  This time he didn’t bounce back.  Nick was put to sleep around 5 this afternoon.

Nick had a few doggy buds and numerous human friends.  He was the type of dog that people who never had dogs were drawn to.  He will be missed.  We miss him intensely.  Goodbye old friend.


Isn't that Nick on the label? Our impulse purchase after we lost Nick.



  1. My heart is so sad…but feels lighter with the thought that Flip will be thrilled that she can pretent to ignore her first California boyfriend for eternity.

    Comment by Betsy — November 7, 2009 @ 3:39 am

  2. I’m sorry for you loss. Nick truly was a good friend. I’ll miss him too.

    Comment by surlypeach — November 7, 2009 @ 3:46 am

  3. I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ll miss him too.

    Comment by Scott — November 7, 2009 @ 3:53 am

  4. Goodbye you big black dog. We will miss you. So glad you got so many happy years out of life.

    Comment by Patty — November 7, 2009 @ 4:15 am

  5. Rough.

    Now I’m doubly sorry.

    Comment by No Mere Mortal — November 7, 2009 @ 4:21 am

  6. It has been a bad couple of weeks for me and sad dog stories, people that know me well know that I place dogs above humans in the greater scheme of things. When I think of Downieville, Nick is honestly a part of what comes to thoughts. Rest assured Dave and Becky, you gave him a good life…..

    Comment by Rod Larkin — November 7, 2009 @ 6:13 am

  7. SO sad……….I know – losing a pet, a part of your family. You did a nice tribute to him.

    Comment by Gail — November 7, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  8. I am sad to see Nick go, he gave you a lot of good years as you did him…a lucky dog.

    Comment by kevin — November 7, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  9. so sad, he will be missed -Judy and I had to pause to wipe away the tears. Glad we got to meet Nick, he truly was a loveable and faithful friend.

    Comment by Judy & Beth — November 7, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  10. Dave and Becky,

    We are so sorry for your loss, we will miss Nick terribly. His little visits at the end of his walk where he played with Bella some, but mostly making a bee-line to our front door to get a couple of treats – which we happily gave him – will be forever etched in our memory. Nick was truly a big dog, with an even bigger heart, I’m so happy he found the two of you to spend his life with. Take care and know that you are all in our prayers.

    Comment by Denise & Toby & Bella — November 7, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

  11. Dave & Becky:

    Nick will be missed by many. It’s been about two years since I last took him to work while dogsitting, but people there often ask after him. At first they are surprised to see such a big dog (OMG! it’s a bear!!), but then they would see how gentle he is. They were really surprised when he emerged from under my desk, where they didn’t see him for the previous ten minutes. He kept my feet warm there.

    When Nick didn’t want to leave my house, he would hide in the bathtub. Somehow he thought his jet black fur was perfect camouflage against the white ceramic. . I wish he were just hiding in the bathtub now. He was moody sometimes, and had abandonment issues. But it just served to show how much he appreciated his friends. Thanks Dave and Becky for making Nick a part of our extended family. We’ll miss him.

    Comment by bob — November 8, 2009 @ 3:16 am

  12. Becky and Dave,

    Leslie, Nolan and I are so sorry to hear of your loss. Nick was a great dog and a true friend. I remember fondly hanging out with Nick in the campground in Oakridge and at Diamond Lake. Our thoughts are with you during this challenging time.

    Comment by Nigel — November 8, 2009 @ 6:04 am

  13. Becky and Dave,
    I’m so sorry to hear that Nick died last Friday, but I did enjoy reading his story. He was definitely the #1 BIG guy at your house. I’m glad I got to scratch his head a few times and read about his explorations with both of you over the years. My favorite picture of Nick is with Becky driving on the 2008 Sedona trip – he’s got a big smile on his face. He’ll be missed and remembered dearly.

    Comment by Janet — November 10, 2009 @ 3:25 am

  14. I am sorry about Nick and I will miss him a lot. He was the chillest dog I’ve ever known. There is no way any sane person would not love Nick. I often mentioned to my close friends how cool and awesome Nick was. He will be missed on this plane of existence but he lives in our memories.

    Paul E

    Comment by Paul E — November 10, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  15. Dear Becky and Dave,
    Thank you so much for including me in your email regarding your beloved Nick.
    I know how much both of you loved Nick, he was your big furry kid. Then again
    how could anyone NOT love Nick. He was a sweet, gregarious black furry
    teddy bear of a dog. I thoroughly enjoyed taking care of Nick when the two of
    you were away. Nick enjoyed going for walks and keeping an eye out for squirrels
    or neighborhood cats.

    Nick was always so easy going and affable. He was so gentle for being such a
    big/strong boy. I would delight in how excited he would get when I brought
    him a toy or treat. I am so sad to hear of his passing but I feel fortunate
    that I got to be a part of Nick’s life. My heart and well wishes go out to
    you both.


    Comment by Julie — November 11, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  16. Becky and Dave,
    Nick was truly one of my favorite patients. A real gentle giant. I feel privileged to have known him. Please take care.

    Comment by Sachi Chen — November 24, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

  17. To David and Rebecca,
    I am so saddened to hear about your loss of Nick. I truly loved seeing Nick come in to our office. His hair was always beautiful and groomed so nicely. He had such a great personality and of course it helped that he was easy for us to care for him! I am definately going to miss him and will never forget him. Please take care. Hope to see you guys again.

    Comment by Melissa - White Ivie — November 27, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

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