About Nikki

12/26/2021 08:44:00 AM Frea 4 Comments

Nikki says hi

Having a sick dog sucks.

Back in 2015, Nikki jumped off the bed and started screaming in agony. Real, loud screams. We rushed her to the vet and they sent us to the emergency vet. And the only solution was surgery that cost all of my book royalties from SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS, plus help from my parents and some very lovely internet friends. Which we opted to do because she was seven years old and healthy, and even then it gave her pancreatitis and wrecked her and we had a long few months of recovery where she shook and occasionally we had to clamp down and hold her to keep her from moving while she screamed in pain while we waited for the meds to come in.

And after that, things went back to normal. But we always knew it could come back.

Oh, these were clean? Not anymore.

She’s had bad pain days over the past few years, days where we could give her a cocktail of drugs and she would be okay a couple days later. But in August or September, she started sneezing uncontrollably and it was hurting her neck. So we took her in to her regular vet, who did everything they could, but told referred us to her emergency vet over half an hour away.

It took months to get her an appointment there. I understand. It’s COVID times and vets are busier and crazier than ever. But it was months. The neurology appointment cost hundreds and told us what we already suspected: her neck’s in bad shape. She needs the surgery again. The surgery that nearly destroyed her as a young and relatively healthy seven-year-old dog.

She’s thirteen now. Still pretty good on her good days, but even for a little dog, that’s old.

Along with the neck problems, we were told she had an enlarged heart. The initial appointment was in September. Our first appointment with the cardiology appointment was December 15. Her blood pressure, we were told, was 230. It’s comparable to humans. It should be 120. I don’t even know how they take blood pressure on a dog, but it was bad. She was immediately put on human drugs. Two days later, another call back. The reason her blood pressure was so high was kidney disease, so there’s another drug for her.

I took her back last Tuesday. Blood pressure was 125. Finally, I thought. Things are looking up. She's getting better.

Wednesday she fell over and SCREAMED. Just so loud and in so much anguish. We rushed her to the vet, where she was given methodone. She’d pinched a nerve. The vet told us that we should crate her, keep her on complete rest. He’d send us home with codeine. But sometimes we would just have to bring her back for shots if it’s too much.

Or we could do the surgery.

No wonder she had neck problems, this is how she sleeps

I typed up half of this with her in my lap, resting her giant blocky, drooly head on the back of my hand because that relieves some of the pressure on her neck. She’s behind me now, lying with her head on the floor and breathing just loudly enough to remind me that even though there is a full batch of breakfast in the bowl we elevated earlier this year to make things easier, I have not fulfilled my half of the contract and given her the chewbone which is promised to her by the God of Dogs every morning.

Her brain is the size of a walnut. She loves nothing in this world but food and sometimes me. She’s never met a toy she’ll play with except the garden hose or a plastic bag. She hates being petted, she hates cuddling unless it’s on her own terms. Waking up and finding her curled into my side has always felt like some kind of miracle. She rejects treats from pet-friendly store cashiers and make me feel like an asshole in front of strangers. Her favorite mattress is purses and our winter coats. She snores like the horn on a freight train and the gas from her tiny, tiny behind can clear a room. She hates being picked up and ported about. Her little face somehow manages to be 85% eyeball and 90% tongue and no, we’re not entirely sure how the math works out on that, either. She’s a good, weird dog. We love her to bits.

And lately, there have there been more bad days than good. The codeine keeps her comfortable but I can’t get it for her unless I take her to an emergency appointment while she’s screaming in pain. And when it begins to wear off, she shivers so hard you can see it from across two rooms. If we confined her to the crate and let her do absolutely nothing for months, she might heal this pinched nerve, but it’s only a matter of time until the next one.

She was three in this picture

So on Christmas Eve, a day I typically love, I made the decision. Next week, I’ll contact a service that comes out to our home. They’ll do a paw print impression. They’ll sedate her. She’ll sleep comfortably and we’ll all say our good-byes to this cantankerous furry little jerk I love more than life itself.

We had thirteen really great years with her. She’ll go on to see her best friend, our old lovable doofus Joey, once again in what I’m convinced is a combination of dog heaven and squirrel hell. And even more importantly, she won’t be in pain anymore.

A photo of a brown dog laying on his belly and looking sideways at the camera
Joey, the lovable doof himself
The bros back in the good old days

That’ll make one of us. But this is a deal we make to have these beasts in our lives. I wanted to write all of this down and put it here because it’s kind of a bummer to just announce on regular social media. “Hey, hope you’re having a good Christmas. I’m not because I have to put my dog down next week and have cried eight times already today.” Not the most cheerful of messages, y’know? But we had a great Christmas together. Nikki got to eat lots of fat from the roast and endured cuddles from the entire family, and now we’re back home enjoying our last days together where she pokes me in the leg with her foot and gets mad at me when I won’t give her my bagel. Why? Because it's mine, dog. Your breakfast is in the kitchen.

Hug your loved ones and your pets for me? Thanks for staying to the end, and sorry for this being such a downer post. I just needed to get it off my chest.


  1. Well wishes from across the ether. It really does feel like salt in the wound now of all times. It's always been a bit of brightness to see you talking of Nikki. It's awful that she's going through this, that you had to make the hard decision. May love and strength bolster you.

    1. Thank you for the ethereal well wishes! Yeah, it was difficult to ring in the new year, to see people be so excited to see the last of 2021, when I knew that four days into 2022, I'd be saying good-bye to my buddy. :(

  2. We lost 2 pets in 2021 and it sucks, whether you decide to release them from their pain or they choose the time to go. So sorry for your loss and for having to make that decision.

    1. God, 2 pets?? That's absolutely heartbreaking and I'm so sorry for your loss, too. We chose to release Nikki and I spent days wracked with guilt over it, even though I knew it was right.


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