We lost Nikki last week, and when I say “we” I mean my neighbor who she belonged to, and me. I had the privilege of getting to know Nikki for a year. Who couldn’t fall in love with a little dog long as a dachshund but colored by hound? I had the honor of babysitting Nikki for quite some time, and we bonded as I bathed her every day to rid her of fleas. Nikki was an older girl who saw her share of physical misery, and while she stayed with me, I pampered her to pieces and she loved me back as only a dog can, keeping my feet warm on the couch while I read–or dozed.
I can feel the folds of her soft skin in my hands as I bathed her. I can smell her body as she became cleaner every day from the flea wounds. I fastidiously cleaned my floor and any surface she touched because her flea wounds bled everywhere, but that was all right. I only wanted her to heal and feel better. I bought her treats and walked her and wished she were mine (only a little) knowing her owner would come back for her in time.
I bonded with Nikki on our walks, with food, with baths, and our naps. I can still feel the folds of her skin in my hands as I bathed and petted her, and I miss this sweet little lady. I got attached. I am haunted by my Lexie who I lost, again. Many of our neighbors on this spit of land have lost their fur children recently, and the loss is palpable to us all.
Sometimes it seems like there is no candle big enough, no light strong or great enough, to offset the grief. I got attached and I am grieving with my neighbor, and for me, and I wonder what it says when we hurt more for our four-legged friends than when we lose the two-legged ones.