**Meat’s views do not necessarily reflect the views of Blocland**
It was a cold January day in 1993. I was 14 years old. My family and I were returning home from a day of skiing in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. We’d made the journey many times before but that day was different. That day, as we pulled up to our house, we were greeted by a small, shivering ball of black and white, moving erratically along the banks of fresh snow that lined our driveway. At first, we thought it was a rabid skunk, scavenging in vain for whatever garbage we might have left outside. Perhaps it was a raccoon that got separated from his gang of thieves.
As we got closer we realized that it wasn’t a skunk, a raccoon, or any other wild beast one might find in the mountains. It was a dog. A smelly, wet, freezing cold dog…and it was as close to death as any creature I’d ever seen.
We immediately grabbed the little thing and brought it inside to warm it up. We bathed it, fed it, and watched as the life slowly returned to its eyes. Over the course of the next two days we cared for the little girl, who we named Eddie (it was the 90’s) despite her lack of male “parts”. We put notices up around the community asking if anyone had lost a dog and waited impatiently for a call that never came.
By the end of the second day, we were all in love. Even my mother, who was notoriously anti-dog, was smitten with the little Shih Tzu. We asked if we could keep her, and my parents agreed, but only if nobody claimed her. Just as we were growing accustomed to life as dog owners, the phone rang. A woman told my mother that three days prior, her “little Abry” had wandered into the woods. The frantic owner described the dog’s appearance, took down our information and headed over. When she arrived, the look in her eyes removed any of our hopeful doubt. It was her girl. We reluctantly gave Abry over, but vowed to replace her with a dog of our own.
My mother immediately began calling breeders and eventually found a woman in North Jersey who bred beautiful black and white Shih Tzu’s. We drove to her house a week later and were greeted by a litter of the cutest puppies we’d ever seen. They were running around, jumping all over each other, and barking playfully. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the runt of the litter. She wasn’t as active as the others and seemed indifferent to their horsing around. I went over to her and she looked at me. It was love at first sight. I told my mom and my brother that this was our dog and they both agreed. We took her home that day.
We called her Nikki after the model, Niki Taylor (it was the 90’s, fuck off), and she was the light of my life. I took her everywhere. She slept in my bed. She would lie on my stomach while I watched TV. She sat on my lap at dinner, while driving, you name it. We were inseparable. She’d even get jealous when she saw me messing around with girlfriends on the couch in our living room. She was my girl.
Over the years, my love for her grew. She was as much a part of the family as my brother or my father. I had pictures of her on my wall in college, and eventually in my apartment as a young professional.
One day in 2007, I got a call from my mother. Nikki was living with my parents at the time and they noticed a change in her. She had become very quiet and slept all the time. Feeding her was near impossible and she began losing a lot of weight…something a 10-pound dog doesn’t have much of to spare. The vet told my mother that Nikki had cancer and was living every day in excruciating pain. He said the only option we had was to put her to sleep. I was devastated.
A week later I was at my parents house preparing for the worst day of my life. I held her from the minute I got home until the minute I placed her on that vet’s cold table. I looked into her eyes and told her how much I loved her as the vet prepared his toxic brew. I heard the electric razor shave a small spot on her hind leg; a target for the needle. I held her as the needle entered her skin once, twice, three times before finding one of her deteriorated veins. I’ll never forget the horrifying sound she made as the life slipped away from her. A small squeal; a sigh that still haunts my dreams.
It’s the second worst thing I’ve ever heard.