For those of you who didn't know, my dog Niko was put to sleep last weekend and I have been a mess. I have known this day was coming since Christmas, when my mom informed me of the decision. You see, Niko is my dog, technically, but he lived with my mother. I got him when I was living at home and he was just 3 months old. He slept with me, on my head, most nights. He was a German Shepherd, Boxer mix and he had the most gorgeous face. He was an amazing dog. He loved me, us - unconditionally. Whenever I was sad he would come to me and rest his paws and then his head on my feet or my lap. He would lap up my tears. He always seemed to feel my pain and want to make it go away. He was very protective of all of us - he chased many postmen down the street and many telephone repair men up telephone poles. He played basketball with us. Peed all over the couches when he was angry with us. But he never, ever, ever stopped loving us. He was a good dog. My angel, I like to say. My kids came into this world and he welcomed them into his life as if they had always been there - never a cross look or even a growl. Even when they would step on his tail and try to ride him like a horsey. He was such a good sport that way. My heart still hurts when I think about him. I was with him until the very end. My stepfather, two brothers, and best friend came along as well. I held him in my arms while he slipped away from us. The whole time I thanked him for the love and light he brought into our lives. And I let him know just how much he was loved and how much he would be missed. (I'm crying as I type this) It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. But it would have been selfish and inhumane of us to keep him alive just because we refused to let his light die. He was in pain - could barely get up and down stairs because of his arthritis, had a skin disease that kept him scratching and gnawing at his skin until it bled, and was losing control of his bladder. He no longer ran to meet us at the door. He no longer chased the mailman. He didn't even bark when there was someone at the door. He was tired. He lived a long, happy life with us. And I know that someday we will meet him again in heaven. And he will be his old self - running and jumping and flipping about on the grass and in no pain. Until then I will keep him in my heart and remember him always as my first baby and the best dog on the planet.
I miss you Niko - thank you for being my best friend and loving me when I was unlovable. Rest in Peace, puppy. I love you.