As a puppy she had been abandoned in the hills of Tochigi.
Found by my youngest daughter and son on a trip to Nikko, she was brought home in a box, skin and bones and so dirty her white coat hardly could be seen.
Though I really didn't want a dog, my daughter said, "If you don't want her, I'll take her back." How could anyone abandon that puppy along the road ... or take her back.
She went with me to the bathroom and came back somewhat cleaner. I pulled out the old dog bed and set her in the sun to dry.
At that point, I hear... "Well, if we are going to keep her, we need to give her a name."
As it turned out, this was a dog filled with a sunny disposition.
She was kind and gentle with children and even babies who lay across her back.
She got along with other dogs and even cats. She liked to run and chase sticks and balls and tease us with squeaky toys.
Paul loved that dog and took her along when he biked to the supermarket. He would leave her tied outside to the fence while he shopped and come out to find her surrounded by admirers.
Since I had taught her to sit and wait when being fed, until I said "itadakimasu", (said before partaking) Paul would bring her a nice snack and show off her talents before those admirers.
Here she is waiting for the word to enjoy a birthday cake Paul had brought home for her.
A month or so after Paul died, I was shopping at the same store with Nikko waiting outside. When I came out, one of her admirers pulled a package of treats out of her handbag saying she had been looking every day for Nikko to come there.
They knew they could bribe her to do all kinds of tricks with just a piece of cheese.
Here she is at camp Zama after having a run with this boxer.
She loved camp and knew that dead food could be found under any picnic table. She would sometimes escape in the night to make the rounds of campsites to check out the tables.
She would ride beside me on the front seat of the car, and when we crossed the bridge over the Tama river, She would know we were going to camp and get all excited for the last of the trip.
She shed white hair every minute of every day throughout the year. I probably had dog hair in every quilt I made and I'm sure what she left behind I will be dealing with the rest of my lifetime.
If you come to visit ... don't wear black.
Norie removed almost that amount on her last few days.
By the time we went to camp in June, Nikko had begun the first stages of doggy dementia.
She was walking in circles.
The circles became smaller and smaller as the months went by and she often got all tangled up.
Her appetite was still good but gradually I had to put her in diapers. She slept long hours when she was not circling and in the last weeks her balance was poor and she could not walk far. In the end, she stopped eating and she could no longer stay on her feet or get up alone.
Did I want my dog to die whimpering and kicking on the floor all alone with no one to come to her rescue? Lying quietly on the table for several hours of discussion, they finally agreed that three more days would not add quality to her life.
Saturday, Norie rode with me to Jindaiji temple where my former dog was cremated. Everyone was very kind. They even marked down the price, and when I got back home, the doorbell rang and there was a pretty bouquet of flowers sent by the vet's office.
The genkan is now nice and clean but there is still dog hair in every corner and it is so lonely to come home to an empty house. I sweep the leaves and walk alone.
People who walk past stop and ask about the dog.
Even yesterday as I went to the department store to shop, two women stopped me to ask about Nikko.
In one more week, I will have two daughters and two granddaughters visiting. The house will be full and surely there will be more family coming around. The choir schedule continues, and because of some taking holidays, I am often the only tenor holding my part. The tenor section is the smallest anyway so even one gone leaves a big gap.
My feedsack quilt is all basted and folded on the sofa but still waiting for the first quilt stitch. Fabric being sorted is piled everywhere and not a lot of time left before it must be set aside until later. Riding the train into town and back I have assembled a small runner of Christmas print scraps for my genkan shoe box top.
Several friends have also lost pets this week ... but my son has added a new kitten to his family. Hopefully, one of these days, another dog will find its way into heart and home....