Nikki Today was a sad day for this photographer, a day long known to come. The family dog, affectionately known as Nikki, or "You Little Shit", or "Hey Baby", or "That Damn Dog", or just "Mutt" was peacefully put down today. It broke my heart!
About sixteen years ago, to my dismay, my wife and I picked out this pure white Peek-a-Poo puppy for our daughter's birthday, which came with all the promises of walking, feeding, and bathing. After the first few days the "Mutt" became mine to, you guessed it, walk, feed, bathe, take to the vet, and in general keep happy. Even though she was the family dog, the "Mutt" was very much a part of me. She was excitable, neurotic, yappy with high shrill bark, fearless against bigger dogs, and extremely loyal to her family. I did not realize the effect this little bundle of energy would have on me as I counted down the days to her final veterinary appointment. As the "Mutt" became older, she became more obnoxious, more demanding, more of everything that earned her the special names we used to call her. But in the end all of those age related misgivings seemed to be forgotten and all the memories of the special times came flooding back into the present moment. Memories of her escaping from the house, only to play the game of "catch me if you can" with me chasing her up and down the street on roller blades. The result ended with me landing the neighbors bushes with the "Mutt" running home straight for the front door. Or the day she planned and executed her escape with the result leading to the Police picking her up a block away because she was too cute and groomed to be a stray. The officer told us she rode the whole shift in the police car with her head out the window. We recovered her at the police station where served an hour sentence in the cage. Or the groomer that refused to groom her anymore because when they caged her, she became a miniature "Cujo" and tore up the cage as well as any towels she could get her paws or teeth into. I also remember the excitement when any of us would come home. The announcement and greeting at the door, the jump into our laps, and the constant snuggling-in when I would play with the kids on the floor. She always wanted to be close and part of the activities. She was an integral part of our family.
Keeping to the theme of photography, I now have a deeper understanding and respect for pet photographers. I did not have enough pictures of our smallest family member. Maybe because photographing our pet was always so difficult. She was in constant motion and never obeyed any complex commands with the exception of sit and stay. This must be a very difficult line of work. Pet photographers require patience and must have a great love for animals. This line of work is so important because I believe families need a memory archive of pets, the same as those maintained for children. Today we looked back and was grateful for what we had, but it would have been nice to have had the foresight to have a few professional pictures taken.
I did not think that letting an animal go would be as difficult as it became. Guilt came over me as I thought about the decision that it was her time to go, even though I knew she was tired. After returning home I did receive her sign. A sign that let me know she was now happy and content, I was kissed by my first butterfly of the season. Before walking into my home I stopped to take a deep breath and admire the new blooming flowers recently planted by my grandson and me. As I stood, a butterfly emerged from the bustle of colors and fluttered closely to my cheek, then quickly headed up the street as if to say "catch me if you can". At that moment I knew I made the right decision and she was once again running up and down the street knowing that she finally made her escape.
Farewell Nikki the "Mutt", thanks for bringing us joy and being a big part of the family.
Enjoy and remember,
"Moments in time are lived once. Images of those moments live forever."