Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Meet Norman. (and an ode to sweet Nicky)


I guess now is as good a time as any to talk a little more about Nicky. The name “Nicky” might not even really ring a bell with you if you haven’t been reading long, or maybe even if you have, but he was our family dachshund who died the same day Edd did, a little over four months ago. I’ve never been able or willing to talk about it because A) I didn’t want talk of Nicky’s passing on to eclipse the news about Edd or seem somehow as important, and B) because it’s just too damn depressing. But today, I think I’m ready to say a little more about Nicky, because I have really happy things to report, too—like the addition of Norman into our lives. :)

I didn’t elaborate about Nicky much in this post, the day after Edd passed. I just said that he went on to be with Edd on the same day. But the truth of the matter is that we chose, in our grief-induced partial numbness and stupor, to go to the vet just hours after Edd died and put Nicky to sleep. I’m still not really sure whether or not it was the right decision, but it was the decision that we made.

Nicky was very, very old and very sick. He was almost completely deaf, had a terrible skin disease of some sort, had lost his continence at the end there (i.e. he was peeing inside constantly, in his bed, etc) and was losing weight despite eating plenty. He was on his way out, and we knew for months that the merciful thing would be to put him to sleep. However, with Edd’s condition being what it was at the end, my mom, understandably, didn’t want to confuse him or sadden him further by putting the dog down. Those two were inseparable. A man and his dog. There really is no sweeter bond. We learned later that Nicky probably had cancer too—a big sign of it is when a dog is eating lots but still losing weight (or so said our vet).

So on that Tuesday, March 27th, when Edd took his last breaths here on this earth, we cried. Sobbed. Held each other. Kissed his face and hands. Said goodbye. Felt surreal. But I think the pain of that day was just the beginning. I think your body has some sort of built-in numbness mechanism, to protect you from feeling everything all at once. It’s in the days and weeks and months that follow when that mechanism lets up, little by little, and you feel the real, lasting sadness that losing someone brings.

My point is, as crazy as it may sound to even think of putting your dog to sleep the same day your spouse/father/friend dies, it just seemed like the right choice at the time. My mom had been suffering a different kind of disease for months and months, the kind the caretaker has to suffer. And she desperately, desperately needed a break. She needed to take care of herself instead of everyone and everything else. People would be coming in and out of the house constantly in the days that followed, and cleaning up the constant messes of an old, sick dog were just an added and unnecessary stress. So I, personally, was all for putting Nicky down. My first dog. The dog I wanted so badly at age 11, that I searched the newspaper ads for daily, to find the perfect one at the perfect price. Nicky—the faithful friend. The part of our family, for 15 years!

Later that afternoon we took him in. I drove separately from my mom and sister, because I had to get home to my own dogs afterwards. It had been a long day. We got to the vet’s office, and I held Nicky, in his little sweater. He trembled and shivered most of the time, but he stilled for a while there as I held him. Warm. Safe. Happy. That was the thing—he was still so happy! You would hardly know that he was suffering. Dogs are amazing like that. The vet came in and explained the process to us. She gave us a little more time. And what we were doing started to really sink in with me. I started to panic. The vet came back, and the process began. It was quicker than you could imagine. One moment lying there—trusting us—breathing. And the next moment, not.

That’s about when I lost it. I suddenly became convinced in my own mind that we had done the wrong thing—snuffing out this life, that we loved, seemed so wrong, and of course so irreversible. I practically ran out of the office, leaving my mom and sister there with little lifeless Nicky, and I cried—no—screamed, the whole way home, and for what seemed like hours in my bed after that. Edd, and now Nicky. I think the numbness lifted for a while there, that evening. I felt it all. No words can describe it.

In the months that followed, I’ve come to terms with what we did, and I even think it was probably the right thing, if there is a right thing in situations such as these. Sometimes maybe it’s better to rip the band aid off all at once, you know? I am now able to look back on the wonderful life that little dog had. He was one lucky pup, and we gave him the best life a dog could have. I’m convinced that he and Edd are together now, wherever good souls go.

And so that brings us to Norman.

Norman is my mom’s new weenie/basset hound rescue, and he is completely amazing. First reason being that his name is Norman. I mean, hi, that’s the best name ever? The rest of the reasons include that he is incredibly sweet, terribly silly, has concerningly out-turned but still very cute front paws, and is the best little companion anyone could ask for. Just what my mom needs, I think.

Norman absolutely loves LOVE. He melts when you touch him. Turns into jello when you hold him. And he also barks and howls like a hound dog—it’s the funniest thing, coming from a dog that looks mostly like a dachshund except for the extra long ears, fluffier-than-normal tail, and funny, out-turned feet. Bottom line: he’s AWESOME. Such a new little bright spot in our lives.

Everything living in this life has to die. That is the circle of it. Edd and Nicky’s time here came to a close, and we will always, always miss them. But I am happy for little Normans, who are just beginning. I have a feeling he will be a star.

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In loving memory of Nicky…


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