Kibble is good, but if the fence fell down I would feast on venison.

Nikki art 10/14/99
My name is Nikki, before that it was Missy for a couple of weeks, and before that it was something else. The people who called me Missy found me by the side of the road. I was so tired. I don't know why my real people left me, but now I make sure that I'm in the car first. I spent most of September and October in the back of my new truck. I like the truck, but I hate small rooms. Trucks are different. People always come back to the truck.

My new people, the ones that drive my truck and call me Nikki, are pretty well trained, but they sleep too late. I try and try to get them up on time, but they tell me that 5 a.m. is too early. They tell me that 6 a.m. is too early. They even tell me that 7 a.m. is too early. I've never had to work so hard to get people out of bed.

A lot of people that I meet say, "Hey, I used to have a dog like that." If you cross German Shepherd with anything else, you get mostly German Shepherd. Like any good shepherd, I like to be in the way. I don't like toys though. Toys are not food. Rawhides are food. I like rawhides.

It rained last weekend. I do not like rain. It's wet. It also makes scary noises on the roof. I was so scared, I had to go to bed. I really hate lightening. One of the first nights that I was at my new house, there were all these flashes outside. I couldn't lie down at all until Anne turned on the lights in the bedroom. Then I could sleep.

After the rain, Jeff put straw down in my pen, he said it would help keep my feet clean. I hope so, because I need my feet in good working order. Since it rained, the dirt is all soft and I can dig. I dug just a little right by the fence and found a gopher hole. If I put my head in the hole, I can smell him. Anne caught me with my head in the hole. I thought for sure I was going to get into all kinds of trouble, but she just looked in the hole, then put a flower pot in it. That was not very helpful. I started digging a couple other holes in the middle of the pen. I know they've seen it, but they haven't said anything. These two-legs are weird.

So many new things to learn! My new people take me to other houses where there are even more people. Yesterday I was brave and stood in the middle of a whole bunch of people, and nothing bad happened. After a while I got scared again and had to go under the table. But sometimes pieces of turkey skin fall on the floor, and if you're under the table, you can grab them.

It's been raining every few days lately. And it's colder now, but that's ok, because I have a lot of new fur. My new red collar got wet in the rain. Now my people laugh at me and call me a redneck. I don't know what that means, but they laugh and scratch my belly so it's ok.

This new place makes my brain work too hard. But every few days I have a thought. Thoughts can be things like: when a Jeff holds his arm out, snaps his fingers and says, "Hup", then I can jump up and put my feet on his arm. Anne put her arm out and said "Hup", so I looked for Jeff. Sometimes thoughts are slow. Last week it rained and rained and rained. Monday morning, Anne sat with me in the garage for a while and told me I should sleep in the garage, but I couldn't do that so I stood in the rain all day. But Tuesday it was cold, so I slept on my bed in the garage. Learning is hard work.

Every night when my people come home, we have to do the ritual. First we have to walk down to the end of the driveway to get the mail and look for cats. Then they give me my rice and I have to throw part of it on the floor. Next we have to go downstairs to get a drink. I don't want the water upstairs, I want the water downstairs. Next all people must report to their assigned seats so I can eat my kibble. Sometimes it's hard to get them to sit in the right chairs, but usually after a while at least one of them will sit in the soft chairs. After kibble, it's time for a chew or a nap until bedtime. I dream of chasing deer and cats. I bark and growl, sometimes loud enough to wake myself up.

What is the deal with all this lightening?! Last night it happened again, and I was so scared. I really wanted into the house, but my people weren't home yet. I went to the best door and tried to get it open. A little piece came off, and some wood chips. Then the whole wire part of the door fell and hit me on the back. I was even more scared, so I went into the evil garage. I hate being in the garage by myself, there's a big box that makes noise. The best thing to do at the time seemed to be to chew on my bed. Before I knew it, it was ripped to shreds. Then there were some more really bright flashes. I tried to get into the laundry room, but that door was too hard and all I could do was make some wood chips and bend a little piece of metal. Finally Jeff came home and let me in. Once he turned on the lights it wasn't so bad. But now every time the lights flicker, I have to go look out the window, even if it means walking on the icky parts of the floor.

Oh man, my two legs have completely slipped a gasket. There is another dog in my house. We went into town and I spent the morning in the truck, then I got to come out and meet a nice lady. This other dog was there, but we ignored each other. We each got a biscuit -- I checked to make sure she didn't get any more biscuit than I did. Then my people and I went for a walk, and I got back in the truck for a while longer. When they came back, they put that other dog in my truck!! I couldn't believe it. She had her head in my window looking into the cab. She was butting in on my turf something fierce, so I let her have it. Ripped a chunk of fur out of her butt. Then we got home. Guys, you're not serious about letting her into the house are you? Oh yes, they were.
So my people and this Leah thing went into the bedroom, and Leah just plops down on one of my beds like she owned it. Ok, so it was a bed I refused to sleep on, but that doesn't matter. She wants it, so I want it. As if that wasn't bad enough, Leah starts shredding one of those stupid plastic things my people are always trying to fool me with. Those are not food. Hey, wait a minute, those ARE food! No fair! Worst of all the Leah thing is a puppy, so I can't even get too mad at her. I snarl and growl at her and she bellies up immediately. It's very frustrating.

The second day Leah was in the house, she ate all my good toys. First she ate the rawhide that I had been working on. Then she ate the hoof. Then she started eating the bone with the rope through it. Well, that was enough of that, I took it away from her. That was just the morning.
Leah has been following me around for two days apologizing for her existance. Everywhere I look, she's on her back in front of me. So I chew on her ears and legs, and tail. I grab her by the scruff and drag her around. I remember doing this with my brothers and sisters.

Me and Leah are best buddies. I really like having somebody else around during the days when the two-legs aren't around. We bark at the deer and dig holes in the pen. Leah figured out that all this stuff that's been lying around on the floor since I got here are toys. The plastic toys aren't reallly food, but they're fun to gnaw. The rope toys are good to shred. I still don't like the squeaky toy, I hate that noise.
Now in the evenings after dinner, we wrestle in the living room. Our people laugh and laugh. We wrestle for nearly an hour until we're both panting and thoroughly covered with slime. My people say it's an amazing change. I say it's exhausing keeping up with this pup. But it's good to have a buddy.

It's common in larger dogs to lose control of the hind end. Nikki never quite knew she had hind legs, unless they stopped following her for some reason. At the end of her life, they stopped following fairly often, with painful results when stairs were involved. Usually she only fell a step or two, but sometimes half a flight at a time. Eventually she hurt herself doing it. We decided not to make her suffer through a questionable recovery.

Nikki is buried with Tsuki's ashes underneath the big redwood trees. She would hate it.

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Anne Powell 11/22/00