Thanks for the memories: a dog’s life

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Nikko was rather fearless and foolish, a tireless trail dog and a dining room mooch.  He had selective deafness and a tail that wagged almost constantly. He would rest his snout on your lap if you sat on our couch and he was not afraid to steal food if you weren’t looking.  He loved nothing more than racing down trails through the old growth near our old mountain home.   If you threw a stick or a tennis ball, he would run all day, but he would rarely bring the item back, and he would never clue in about why I’d get frustrated.  Nikko traversed many years and miles with me, and we had a lot of great times together.

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Nikko was a  tiny ball of fur at the pound in Bend, Oregon when we first saw him in 1998.  He’d been abandoned in a burlap sack on the side of the road.  He was so cute, Denise didn’t have a hard time convincing me to get him.  Still, neither of us could have guessed that Nikko would survive so long.  He always had an insatiable appetite, as if being abandoned as a pup made him neurotic about his next meal. Accordingly, he got chubby for a while, but  he still managed to race ahead of me on hikes around Mount Hood.  Flag Mountain, Castle Canyon, and the Salmon River were favorite spots.

He enjoyed visiting lakes and rivers, although not as much as his sister Rikki did.  He liked to cool off, but was rather lazy and tentative about swimming.   That’s okay.  So am I.

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Nikko was always up for a walk or a hike, even a simple release into the green of our backyard.  He frequently got antsy in the car when he knew we were headed for a trail, and he had a little pathetic whine that went something like “whoo whoo woo”.  While Nikko lived to run, he was also basically content at home.  He enthusiastically greeted us when we got home, and besides a puppy’s shoe fetish (including a pair of slippers owned by the late great drummer from Ghana, Obo Addy) he stayed out of too much trouble.  Never mind the tubs of leftovers we’d get careless about on the counter.

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Odd stuff happened with Nikko.  A few years ago, he got injured when he walked out the door a little slower than anticipated, and it was slammed shut on his tail.  He didn’t need that last inch anyway.  Five or six years ago, Denise and I were walking our dogs in the snow at twilight when we passed a bridge washed out by a flood.  I just wanted to check it out.  We had crossed it many times, but I wanted to see the destruction up close.   Nikko followed me, then passed me recklessly, flying straight off the ragged end of the bridge into darkness.  He yelped and was silent.  The fall was about twenty feet on to a rocky bank.  He was actually across the main channel of the river, so without an intact bridge and in the cold darkness, a rescue took some serious ingenuity and a lot of friends.  Yet Nikko was fine. Shockingly, nothing was broken.   Sure, he started waking up in the middle of the night to pee, but he hiked as hard as ever, and until the past year, he was still a thing of beauty running across a field.

Just last summer, Nikko accompanied me on a great hike up Mount Hood’s Cooper Spur.  It wiped him out, and I could see his hiking days were fading, but he kept trying.  Nikko was a goofy loveable creature who never stopped being a puppy despite his gray face.   In some ways, he is a reflection of me.

Niko on Baker's Bump

Nikko, aka Nikko Biko Freako,  was put to sleep this week, just weeks shy of his fifteenth birthday.  We will miss him a great deal.

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on January 10, 2013, in Death, Hiking with dogs, Memories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Must’ve had a great life. RIP Nikko 🙂

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss Josh. Nikko was a wonderful dog and obviously an amazing companion.

  3. Nikko was the best! my kids loved that dog and they are saddened. The most memories we have are with the great excitement he would show when my kids showed up to play. Even last weekend he was so excited. My families prayers are with you and Denise and our memories join yours.

  4. A lovely Eulogy Josh! Pets bring so much to us and ask for so little in return! So sorry for your loss.

  5. Sorry to hear about your loss

  6. gordonbaker3@comcast.net

    Oh Josh, I am so sorry.  I l oved Nikko & was hoping he could hang in there until May…..  I know he will leave a hole in your lives, but hopefully Jackie Chan will begin to fill it to some extent.  Your writing tells the story of Nikko really nicely & he comes alive in memory.  Lots of love.  Ma

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss. They get to be like family don’t they? Beautiful story.

  8. So sorry for your loss. It’s tough losing such an old friend.

  9. Sorry about the loss of Nikko Josh.

  10. A wonderful telling of a wonderful friend. We’re all so lucky to have our own lives enriched with our four-legged friends.

  11. So very sorry for the loss of your goofy hiking companion. Its never easy to lose our four-legged friends, but he lived such a good life.

  12. Nikko was always patient putting up with tbe little chihuahuas. We’ll miss him here in Northridge.

  13. I feel for your loss, I posted on my blog a post about my dog in Wylie And Me, you had a fantastic friend and I am truly sorry for your loss.
    Wayne

  14. lindseycomerphotography

    I am so very sorry for your loss. My dog, Marshall, is going through a hard time right now and I’m afraid we might have to put him down soon. He would go hiking with me all the time and loved it. He’s not even 2 years old yet either. He contracted 2 diseases about 2 months ago and he’s been wasting away since then. No matter what me or the vets have done. It makes me really sad. However, I read a quote the other day that helped me.
    “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

  15. There is such joy, hiking with an animal, sharing that stillness, beauty, peace together…how vividly I could imagine watching Nikko streak across a field….what a wonderful creature, and such a fabulous tribute to him. Deepest condolences for his loss. What a gorgeous life he lived. Grand memories. Reminds me of my Buddha cat, my hiking cat. He is quite missed.

    Autumn Jade

  16. What pooch he was to have left you with such beautiful memories.

  17. Thanks for writing about Nikko. It’s always great to see a dog’s life honored. The more time I spend with dogs, the more I realize how profound the term “man’s best friend” really is. Our Schipperke is nearly 16 and I count myself lucky for every day we have with him. I wanted to post Nikko’s story on my Pinterest page about dogs, but couldn’t find a button and don’t know how to pin something without one. (I’m a total newbie to Pinterest and blogging in general.) Thanks again.

  18. Sorry to hear of your loss of such a loyal and joyous dog. We lost a cat about a year ago and still miss him.

  19. This is a hard one. Beautiful, lucky Nikko had a good life. No matter how long they live, it’s never long enough.

  20. We always have the knowledge that a pet won’t live forever, but who wants to deal that wsay with a creature you love? It is like a cry in your beer country song. We knew a sad fate was coming, but we did it anyway…

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