When He Was Young

By Judy Walton

Nicholas, June 2005When he was young, he was impetuous, charming, jealous, and temperamental at times. He lived to chase the lure, and to be as close to me as he bodily could get. He played games, learned tricks, told others how handsome and gentlemanly he was -- though he put holes in nearly every one of my other dogs at times, who knows over what (probably who got to be next to me...).

He wasn't a huge winner, but he was RWD at the Midwest from 9-12 in '93, and got his 1st major immediately before going out in the field in Wichita and going BOB over FCh's for his 1st AKC field major. He finished a month later with his second major in Albuquerque. He wasn't coursed more, however, because he learned at that AKC course when he lost the lure that he could effectively stop the lure by going to the nearest pulley and yanking it out of the ground -- and that if he then ran off with it, he could keep the coursers at a standstill (and get a lot of laughs from the gallery) at least until he was corraled and the pulley replaced. As entertaining as this was, it also limited his ability to win field points.

Now, he's old. His heart isn't great, his vision isn't great, and most of all, his neck isn't great and it's getting worse. He is intimidated by stairs; with the right motivation - food, for example - he can still make it up, but he cannot and will not try to go down. He sometimes falls over when he squats to urinate, and some days he can barely walk. He gets pain medication every day; mostly it keeps him functional and comfortable.

Nicholas, June 2005In his twilight years, he has learned how special it is to be the "out front" dog, the "gardening dog"... He loves to lay in the shade or rub his ears in the cool grass while we pull weeds or tend to the many flower beds we pamper this time of year. He gets to walk around with us each evening as we survey how the beds are doing, and he nibbles on the long grass that grows around the edges and smells the good smells that come up from the dirt when it's turned over. He will still "race" (tottering as fast as his old, unsteady legs will carry him) to the front door when he is goosed in the bum. He will still talk back when he is sung to ("how much is that doggie in the window..."), just like when he was a young, impetuous, charming dog...

Nicholas is 12 1/2 -- he is failing, and I don't know how much longer he will be with me. I hope at least through the summer, but there are days when I don't know if it will be through the end of the week. I think about what life will be like without him, and I almost can't stand it. I'm writing this now in honor of him because I don't know if, later, I will be *able* to write in memory of him. And I wanted everyone to get a feel for what he is, even as an old dog.

Ch. Sun Run's Northern Lights SC
Long may his light shine . . .

Young Nicholas

"When He Was Young?" Copyright © 2005 Judy Walton.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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