Furry Flashbacks – An Engagement Story

When my husband and I started dating, I told him early on that I was a package deal. I let him know that I came with a Niko, a Rocky, and a Gina. Never one to back down from a challenge, he said, “No problem.” (Good answer, honey!) It didn’t take long before we were one big happy (and furry) family.

My husband (a.k.a A3) and I had been dating a little over a year when Niko passed. Niko was my first true love. Losing him was devastating. A3 was grief stricken as well and did his best to comfort me. A few months after Niko was gone, I was having a particularly bad day. A3 drove the 60 miles that separated us just to have lunch with me in hopes of brightening my day. Seeing his face made me feel better. After lunch, I went back to work and was so glad and so ready to go home by the end of the day.

As I turned into my neighborhood, I immediately knew something wasn’t right. A3’s truck was in the driveway. I was happy but quite puzzled. There was something on the front door… It was a sign telling me to hurry and go to the backyard.

note

(I think at this point I knew what was happening but I was in such a state of disbelief. It was almost like an out of body experience.)

I went inside and through the house to the backyard. And there were my loves. A3 stood smiling at me (and looking quite handsome, I must say). Next to him was Rocky. And on a table near Niko’s favorite tree was a bouquet of my favorite flowers, one of Niko’s tennis balls, and a picture of Niko. The sight quite literally took my breath away.

I joined them under the tree where A3 proceeded to say the sweetest, most beautiful things to me before getting down on his knee and asking if I would marry him.

(Rocky had gotten bored by this point and had wandered off…)

The box that my beautiful ring was in had a light that shined on the solitaire, making it look as though my ring was glowing. “Why is my ring glowing? My ring is glowing!” kept going through my head. Apparently I hadn’t answered, because A3 said, “Let’s make this official, shall we?” I was brought back to Earth and gave him a resounding “YES!!!” He picked me up and spun me around. Rocky ran back to us and began to bark and jump and celebrate with us.

It was so beautiful. Having Niko and Rocky included in one of the most amazing moments of my life is something I’ll always cherish and never forget.

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Thank you, Carol!!

While Carol might not let her award nomination go to her head, Jacques totally will (because he knows nothing about being humble). So I might not tell him until after the fact… Just to make my life easier.

versatie-blogger-bigThank you, Carol, for nominating Jacques’ Dog Blog for the Versatile Blogger Award. We know it was very hard to narrow it down to a manageable list because there are so many great blogs out there. We are truly honored to be on the list.

If you have not met Carol, you absolutely must!! Her blog is entertaining and addictive and… well, you just need to read it for yourself. As a warning, do not read her blog while sipping on any beverage unless you want said beverage to be spewed all over the place. Her blog often causes hysterical laughter.

In order to accept this award, Jacques must list seven things about himself. Hmm. He’s napping, so I’ll take the liberty of making the list for him. (I’ll be nice.)

1. Jacques fancies himself a dandy. HAAAA!!!

jacques_poirot2. He is not familiar with the concept of “let it go,” nor is he familiar with the song from Frozen. He is a true terrier – once he sees something or wants something, he will not stop until it is his.

3. Jacques is a napaholic and often times sleeps in the strangest places.

IMG_06484. He is like Wall-E and needs sunlight to recharge his batteries.

walle_jacques5. Jacques often acts like a cat. He likes to perch on things and to play the “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” game.

confused26. He DOES NOT like sharing his toys. If another dog takes one of his toys, he will have a complete meltdown. He sits and shakes and refuses to let the toy out of his sight. Once the other dog has relinquished the toy, Jacques will very stealthily get the toy then run off with it.

7. Jacques will steal your heart. He will take it when you least expect it. You can’t fight it – trust me.

wantedWanted for stealing hearts…

Nominations
Though Jacques and I are new to the award thing, we quickly learned that some bloggers enjoy being nominated and others… not so much. We’re going to nominate just a few of the many, many blogs we enjoy – please know there’s no pressure to accept the award. The nominees are (in alphabetical order):

A Dog Called Storm

Bubba and Fling

Golden Kali

Stitch Boom Bang

Year of the Dog

Thanks, again, Carol! And thank you to our readers and followers!! We really enjoy sharing our (mis)adventures with you!!

Everyone Needs an Auntie G

I could write volumes about why my best friend, Gina, is one of the most wonderful people ever. Volumes. And I don’t just say nice things about her because she knows way too much about all of the insane things I’ve done in my life. (Though flattery can never hurt, right?) I could wax poetic (which I have a habit of doing), but I won’t. I’ll simply say that she is an amazing woman who inspires me every day and tell you how it started.

In 2003, Gina and her 11-year old daughter came to pick me up for a fun day out. They were a little early, so I wasn’t quite ready. I left them in the living room to entertain themselves while I showered. While I was showering, I heard fierce barking – and a lot of it. It was Niko. I quickly covered myself and ran to the living room to find Gina and her daughter huddled in the corner of an over-sized chair. Gina was protectively covering her daughter while not moving and managing to keep an eye on Niko who was all but on the chair barking at them. Rocky was right there too, barking as if he was saying, “Yeah, what he said!” I was horrified and shrieked, “NIKO!!!” Niko immediately stopped barking and wagged his tail while looking at me. I was dumbfounded. Gina and her daughter uncurled themselves from the chair and looked at me with fear still in their eyes. I apologized profusely and made Niko and Rocky stay with me while I finished getting ready.

Gina, her daughter, and I went on to have a good day, even sharing a few nervous laughs about the events of that morning. (In fact, we chuckle about it from time to time even to this day!) A lot of people I know – family members included – would have distanced themselves from me after that incident, but not Gina. A few months later when I was in the midst of (another) cross-country move, she welcomed Niko, Rocky, and me to stay at her house – with her two children, cat, and husband. She never hesitated. And when, during that stay, Niko and Rocky made complete asses of themselves, she didn’t judge. She didn’t get upset. She just calmly helped me manage the chaos.

(For the record: I seriously doubt Niko would have ever done anything to Gina or her daughter because he was, in fact, a pansy. That being said, it was still an unsettling experience. He never acted that way towards them [or anyone else] again.)

100_0654Does this look like the face of a bully? He certainly was at times!

Every year that my boys were alive, their Auntie G sent them birthday presents and Christmas presents (apparently the squeakier, the better). Niko and Rocky LOVED getting packages from her!! When she came to visit, she always brought the boys special  “cookies” and didn’t complain when Rocky had pooters or Niko hounded her to throw the ball. She was firm but kind when she reprimanded Rocky for “accosting” her leg. Again – most people I know would’ve stopped associating with me or would’ve judged me. Not Gina.

She understood that these boys were my family; they were all I had. She never once said, “They’re just dogs.” In fact, she would often say, “Sure, they’re dogs, but those are your boys. They’re family.” When Niko was diagnosed with cancer, she was the first one I called. Though she had lost her brother and father to cancer only a few years before, she never belittled me for feeling the way I did. She answered my questions and held my hand though it all. When they were sick, she would tell me to give them hugs from Auntie G, which I did. (It was amazing – those hugs always seemed to make them act as though they felt better.)

When Niko and Rocky passed, she sent flowers and cards and called frequently to check on me. She helped me cope with those devastating losses and, again, never once said, “They’re just dogs.” She accepted not only me with my many, many flaws, but she accepted and loved my boys. She did from day one. It was an honest and unconditional love. It was (and still is) absolutely beautiful. And that is why Gina is my best friend and why everyone needs an Auntie G.

The boys LOVED getting packages from Auntie G! (below)

opening packages

Mine – A Haiku by Jacques

no! That ball is mine!
wait, wait! no! so is that one!
yes – they are all mine!

mine1squeak-a squeak-a squeak
i must have them all – they’re mine
mine, mine, mine, mine, mine

mine2it’s all about me
me, me, me, and mine, mine, mine
but i am cute, no?

mine3

(This one’s for you Maddie!)

Furry Flashbacks – No Way!

Around 2006, Niko was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called nodular dermatofibrosis which caused lumps (some very large) to grow all over his body. The lumps grew steadily until there were so many of them on his feet and in between his toes that in 2008 he needed to have them surgically removed to be able to walk comfortably. Because Niko was my “Energizer Bunny,” it was hard to get him to rest long enough for his surgical wounds to heal. He made at least two trips back to the vet to have a few spots sutured closed again.

nikos_lumpOne of Niko’s many, many lumps.

balloon nikoNiko post-surgery wearing a balloon cone before being put in “the cone of shame.”

During the slow and frustrating healing process, Niko had to wear “The Cone of Shame,” which he hated. It didn’t help that Rocky tormented him when he had to wear it. And, okay, okay… I didn’t help either. I may have played the “toll bridge” game (where I tossed a treat into the cone like it was a toll as I passed by) once or twice. I might have even laughed. On a regular basis.

Before you start to feel too sorry for Niko, he got us back. He would often walk up and down the hallway with the cone scraping the wall making a sound that was akin to nails on a chalkboard. Or he would walk up “innocently” behind me and slam into the back of my knee almost knocking me down. Rocky often got smacked upside the head with Niko’s cone as he passed by. So, really, the torment was a two-way street.

Back to the story… Niko had to wear the cone and have his wounds medicated several times a day – both things he hated. One morning, I guess he had had enough. When I approached him to put the ointment on his feet, he collapsed down on the floor with all four feet under him. (Think of a duck sitting on her eggs – except instead of a duck it was a large German shepherd and instead of eggs it was his giant feet.) His feet became powerful springs – just as I would get one pulled out, it would spring right back under his body. Pull. Boing. Pull. Boing. It was HILARIOUS!! I was trying to be stern but couldn’t keep myself from giggling.

During one of my fits of laughter, Niko saw his chance to escape and took off. Though I was laughing hysterically, I was quickly in hot pursuit. Down the hall and around the corner we went. He ran into the bedroom, leaped onto the bed, and shoved himself under the pillows. (Seriously, did he think he could hide there??!) Pull. Boing. Pull. Boing. His legs were incredibly strong and he was incredibly determined, but I had an ace in the hole. I played the mommy card. I was able to finally pull myself together long enough to say “That’s enough!” in a somewhat convincing tone, grab his foot firmly, and squirt the ointment on it before he knew what hit him. Once he realized I had won, he gave up the other three paws. He knew he’d been beaten. But he also knew he was going to get a treat. It was a win-win for everyone in the end.

When I replay that scene in my mind I a) am thankful no one was there to see us and b) often laugh so hard I cry. It was very Tom and Jerry (sans the malicious intent) and totally Niko. He was saying, “No way! I don’t think so! Thanks for playing!” He was such a good boy!

100_0933Niko’s lumps and bumps came back, but they never stopped him!

End note: At that time, there wasn’t really a treatment for nodular dermatofibrosis. (I’m not sure if any advances have been made in the last few years.) In addition to unsightly and sometimes uncomfortable lumps, the disease ultimately attacks the kidneys and causes renal failure. Some of Niko’s growths came back though they never got as big as they initially were. After battling an unrelated adenocarcinoma, a large cyst was found on one of Niko’s kidneys. We let him go once we discovered that he was in the mid-stages of renal failure. He was 12 years old.

I am sharing this because I want others to know nodular dermatofibrosis isn’t a death sentence. If your pup has this disease, work closely with your vet/doggie dermatologist to keep growths in check and to monitor the kidneys. Your pup can live a full and happy life. I am extremely thankful Niko was able to!

DSC_0067Niko might have been lumpy and bumpy, but he was a happy boy!