December 27, 1993 to May 21, 2009

We had to say goodbye to our little girl on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

We brought Nikki into our home and our hearts on March 20, 1994. I remember when we decided to finally get a dog, I told my husband, Ken, that I wanted a Sheltie; he just wanted a black dog. I remember thinking “Good luck finding a black Sheltie”; I didn’t know they existed. Imagine our surprise when we answered an ad in the paper and found ourselves getting a bi-black Sheltie. The first time we met her at the breeder’s, we were told that they had been calling her Nikki, but that we could call her whatever we wanted. She came prancing into the room (those of you with Shelties know the “Sheltie Prance”) and she looked just like a “Nikki”, so we kept the name. Nikki was quite the handful as a puppy. There were trenches dug around the perimeter of both our yard and my mom and dad’s yard where she’d go ripping around in the same path - chasing cars, birds, planes, pretty much anything that moved. At the lake, she’d chase the ducks and boats that went by. She chewed everything, too, including the corner of one of the walls in our house. She was so full of mischief. I remember one night I was having mac and cheese for supper and I had to leave the table to answer the phone – I’m not sure where Ken was. I came back to the table and there was Nik on my chair with a front paw on each side of my plate chowing down on my supper. From that day on she was pretty fond of mac and cheese.

I started agility with Nikki when she was about 6 or 7 years old. She wasn’t the fastest dog at agility; in fact, she was pretty pokey. I remember our first trial in July of 2001 – it was in P.A. I had never been in a trial before and I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so nervous about it. I wouldn’t even let any of my family come to watch because I was so nervous. By this time, I think Nikki was starting to develop arthritis in one of her front legs because she would sometimes refuse to do the A-frame. When it was our turn to do our run, Shirley told me to have fun and help her over the A-frame if she needed it and not worry about losing points. My little girl came through for me and she got a Q!! I was so incredibly proud of her. That was the only Q she ever got, but it was a pretty darn special one.

By the beginning of 2002, her arthritis was becoming too painful for her to do agility and so we stopped. This was also about the time that we got Lexus, and Nik and Lexi became good company for each other. They were hilarious when they’d play together because they’d always sneeze at each other as they played.

Over the years, Nikki’s arthritis became more and more severe. We had tried acupuncture and swimming but after awhile nothing really helped her. As she got older, we just tried to make her as comfortable as we could, took her for slow walks on her own and carried her up the stairs (she could still go down). When we lost Lexus in November of 2008, Nikki grieved right along with us and we ended up getting another female tri Sheltie puppy (Maddie) in January of 2009. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do for Nikki as she was already 15 years old and so arthritic. It must have been a good idea, though, because there were times after we got Maddie that Nikki would come up to me and poke me with a toy so that I’d play with her (even though it was only for about a minute) - this from a dog with very severe arthritis!

Maddie and Nikki

(Maddie and Nikki – May, 2009)

Nik was also diagnosed with an enlarged heart in August of 2008. At the beginning of May, 2009, she started to lose her appetite and so we took her to the vet and found out that her heart was even more enlarged and she had fluid on her lungs; she was put on heart medication. We were on holidays the week after the May long weekend and took the girls up to the lake. Nikki’s health just got worse each day. She had pretty much no appetite and, when we could get her to eat (usually by hand feeding her), she would just throw it back up. By Thursday of our “holiday”, Nikki couldn’t even keep down water and so we knew it was time to let her go.

We’re grateful to have been able to spend a few days with her at the lake before she went. It’s been incredibly hard losing two dogs in the span of 6 months but, as my sister said to me, Nikki is now with Lexus and they’re probably sneezing away at each other. Nikki was also a favorite of my dad’s, so I know he’s taking good care of her. It’s hard to believe how much our hearts ache, but I guess that just goes to show what an incredibly special little girl she was. There will never be another Nikki. She will have a place in our hearts forever. Love you pumpkin.

Darcy, Ken and Maddie