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!
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.
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.”
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.