Saturday, December 14, 2019

A rather lonely week....

A week ago Friday, I said goodbye to Nikko who has been part of our life for the last sixteen and a half years.

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."

Lying in the bed with the late afternoon sun sparkling on her fur, I thought since she came from Nikko a name meaning sunshine would be fitting.

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.

When I first took her to the vet, he said she was about three months old. Counting backwards, that put her birthday on valentine's day.

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.

Nikko went with me to almost all Scout events and made friends with many scouts and scouters.
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.

Nikko was not allowed on furniture ... at least when I was home... though she did sneak onto Paul's bed when I was out, and he allowed that even though she chewed holes in his quilt and destroyed the down comforter.

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. 
The contents of that plastic bag is about ten minutes results of a brushing.

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.

Euthanizing a pet in Japan is not done by most vets. Even Friday when we carried her to a vet who might comply, they said they could give her an IV that would keep her alive a few more days, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday ... three days when my schedule kept me out most of the day...

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....


  1. I am so sorry for your loss, Julie.

  2. Julie, you gave Nikko a lifetime of love and happiness. The decision is always so hard even when we know it is the best one. Quiet, I know that so well, and more so when you return home after being out. I hope all your memories of Nikko when she was younger will be uppermost in your heart. XXXXXX from NZ.

  3. DearJulie, my thoughts are with at the loss of your beautiful companion Nikko. Wonderful memories for you to remember. Xx

  4. Oh, Julie, I am SO sorry to hear about Nikko. You said it best when my husband died - "You have been ever so much on my mind these days. I am so sorry for your loss. Even when you can see it coming, it doesn't make it any easier. Take care of yourself now." Hugs, Kitty

  5. What a lovely post. Your Nikko was surely one in a million and loved by family and, it sounds like she was loved by the community as well. My condolences.

  6. How fortunate Nikko found you! What a beautiful life.

  7. I'm so sorry about Nikko. I know what it is like to lose a beloved pet. I'm glad that there will be people in your home soon, but I know it will be lonely until they arrive.

  8. So sorry you have lost a good friend and what a good life she had with you and your husband. I hope working on the feedsack quilt will be a time to remember and be thankful.

  9. It is always a sad time when we lose a pet. They are such an important part of our lives. I agree that is very lonely with out them and it takes a while to get out of the routine of making plans around them. But that just shows how special they are.

  10. What a blessing she was to you and your family despite all the dog hair. How comforting to know others miss her, too.

  11. Julie - so sad. It's so hard. What a wonderful "dog of a lifetime" and will be missed by the community. You were the perfect match to rescue such a dear shepherd. I'm glad you'll be surrounded by loved ones soon;). Hugs -

  12. Oh Julie, I am so sorry you have lost your good companion and fellow lover of people. I know what an emptiness is left after a dog is no longer there. I know the sadness of watching her decline, I know the diapers and the dementia. I also know the agony of making the decision to euthanize as the Japanese vets won't take the decision away for us pet owners. I have wished that someone stronger than me would have said "this is the best thing you can do for your beloved pet." It WAS the best thing and your love and devotion are all that Nikko knew and remembered. I hope you can feel some relief mixed with your grief and I hope you can fill your days with happy things. Love you my dear friend. Take good care of yourself.

  13. I'm so sorry to hear about Nikko. I hope your family is there filling your home with life and laughter. Be well, friend!

  14. Sweet photos of Nikko with so many memories. I'm sorry for your loss.