Missing Nicky: It was her way or the highway | Opinion | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | August 22, 2016 6:00 am
Last Updated: August 21, 2016 at 9:43 am
Last night I dreamed about Nicky again.
For those who don’t know, Nicky was the 14-pound English Jack Russell who ruled our home and hearts for nine years. She was slightly mad, and thus a perfect fit for us.
She went to that big doghouse in the sky last October, and ripped our hearts out. While we’re happy she’s no longer feeble and blind, we’d give anything to have her back.
I miss her kisses. I miss stroking her smooth coat, and nuzzling her tummy. I miss hearing her snore. I ache to hold her, even though she once bit the bejeesus out of me for holding her. (I picked her up when she wasn’t in the mood, and still have the scar under my right eye.)
Like every dog I’ve owned, she was a rescue. When I was a kid, we got our dogs from the pound. I found Nicky online, at petfinders.org. I fell in love with her photo, all sparkling eyes and velvet ears. We drove to Spartanburg, she was placed in my lap and that was it. She slept in my arms the whole ride home.
Instead of Nicky (Widdle named her), we should have called her Diva, because it was her way or the highway. She was cheerful, loyal, and so calm we used to check her pulse to see if she was alive — but she had a will of iron.
She liked to be fed at certain times — and by “certain times” I mean constantly — she wanted to be in bed by 10 p.m. and she insisted on an after-breakfast nap. (She’d grumble loudly until I took her back to bed.) What she did not want — such as having her nails trimmed by me — didn’t happen.
I’d cut the nails of an 85-pound boxer, a surly chow and a bi-polar Lab. I figured I could handle a cute little terrier. Wrong! With her long, flexible body and stumpy legs, she squirmed, struggled and spurted straight up like a fountain. Then came the coup de grace: As I wrestled her to the floor, she screamed. It was the worst sound I’ve ever heard. Widdle turned white and I burst into tears.
From then on, we took her to the vet for nail trims, a 28-mile round trip. And guess who stood calmly as the vet tech swiftly snipped her nails? Yep, neurotic Nicky.
She disliked toys, other dogs and stairs. She liked exploring Edisto Beach, watching TV with Widdle, and inspecting her kingdom room by room, every day.
She’d stroll into the living room, patrol the perimeter, peer under the sofa, walk across the rug, sniff all the plants. Then she’d waddle into the next room and repeat the process. We figured she was a platoon sergeant in a previous life.
Everyone says the best way to get over losing one dog is to adopt another. We’ve been urged to honor Nicky’s memory by saving another homeless pet. But I can’t imagine it. Losing her was like being gutted; I can’t sign up for that pain again.
Besides, she — or some form of her energy — still lingers. Every now and then I hear the jingle of her tags, or nails clicking on the hardwood floor. Once I glimpsed her chubby rump turning the corner by the kitchen.
Finally, I told Widdle about it. “This sounds crazy, but… do you think she comes back?” I asked.
He didn’t hesitate: “I don’t think she ever left.”
Maybe he’s right. I hope he is.
(Julie R. Smith, who’s a dog nut even without a dog, can be reached at email@example.com.)