Nico came to me over a decade ago in a shoe box off the J train, a puppy passed into my hands on a sticky afternoon on a lower east side street corner. Right then we both fell into a love affair from which neither of us ever escaped. She became my baby and I became hers. When I fell pregnant she was the first to know, alerting me each of the three times by firmly planting her soft head on my belly and refusing to move, for hours, for days. She held me. When I gave birth at home she was there at my side, holding the space for me. And as the children grew, she nuzzled them and let them climb on her and slept with them each night, her 80 lb body carefully cradling their tiny frames, holding them safe. She was, quite simply, the most majestic creature I’ve ever known.
Nico passed away a couple of weeks ago on a hot summer afternoon not unlike the one on which she came to me. She developed a heart tumor a few months back. I tried to fight it, to heal her, tooth and claw with everything I had. Yet life moved forward as it always does.
She suddenly- overnight it seemed- withered away, from strong to frail, boisterous to tired, healthy to sick, young to old. My god it was so alarmingly fast. And then I knew it was time for me to hold her.
When I was a young girl living in Oregon there were wild woods behind our house. My two sisters and I would venture into them to wander and climb trees, and the adults would always hand us the leash on our way out the door and tell us sternly, if you get lost out there don’t worry, the dog will guide you home. We did get lost. And our dog always did pull us back, out of the forest, into the light. That dog’s name was Bubba. I was small, 4 or 5 years old, but I still remember. I hope my children will remember Nico too. I really do.
She passed away in my arms. I laid with her on the floor and held her until she slipped away. In too many ways to ever tell, she’s guided me home. I hope that I did the same for her. For the past few weeks I kept praying for a miracle. I now realize that she was the miracle, and the past 10 years with her were a miraculous gift. Goodbye my sweet baby.