This is the story of how we found our dog. More than that, it is the story of how "Nick" found us.
"Nick" was 17 months when we adopted him from the Corgi breeder in Pacifica, California. That was July 4th weekend, 1998.
After my eldest daughter recommended we get a Corgi, I searched on line to learn about a breed I knew nothing about. Other than "Queen Elizabeth's Corgis," I had never seen one in person or known anyone who had owned one. Kelly, said they are great family dogs, very loyal, great mountain dogs and herders. What did I need a herding dog for?
So I looked on line and read about this curious breed and gentle dog with the face and body of a small German Shepard and itty bitty legs. There are two kinds of Corgis, mainly: The Welsh Pembroke Corgi without a tail (lopped at birth) and the Cardigan Welsh Corgis with long fox like tails that drag on the ground.
Of the tail-less types, I loved the "Tri-color" mix the best. This coloring is black, white and auburn, whereas the others are all or mostly auburn. I was completely fascinated by the breed and read about a Corgi breeder show coming to our county in May of 1998. I was propelled to attend and see the breed first hand to determine if this was the dog for us. This was to be our first dog since we each left our birth homes and as a married couple.
I attended the show alone and observed the qualities of the breed. Also important to me, was to observe the breeders and to see what kind of people they were; how they treated their dogs and presented them to everyone around and not just the judges. A perfect dog or show dog was not what I wanted. I wanted to find a Corgi that would be the right fit for our household, already inhabited by 3 very territorial, alpha cats. Good luck, right?!
I spoke to many breeders, learning more and soon came to realize that very few Corgis were for sale. One breeder introduced me to another, believing she might have one for sale that wasn't of "Show Quality." I couldn't imagine what that meant and I had no intention of ever "showing" my dog in this world of perfectly bred dogs with impeccable lines and markings. Not my deal. Our family just wanted a dog to love and to become a part of our family.
I met Lorna and soon learned that she had two for sale, a male and a female. Her male was a Tri-color and house trained already. The female, a "ginger" and not what I was looking for, but the male had possibilities. She would let us come to her home to meet "Nick" in about two weeks.
My husband, Billy and I drove down the coast with anticipation and excitement, much like our first date. We couldn't wait to see Lorna's Corgis and just knew that one would be the right fit for us. Never in our wildest imaginations did we know just how perfect a fit this dog would become.
After being lead to her back yard, where all 8 of her Corgis were hanging out, we quickly realized there were 16 eyes all fixed on us and checking us out for what was to come. Two of the dogs were in a small enclosed area, one smaller and auburn and the other one, a Tri-color! The latter was wagging his tail-less behind and son-of-a-gun, had the broadest smile on his face I have ever seen. He was the one! We asked to see him, let him smell us, pet his beautiful double fur coat and let him get to know us.
He bolted from his pen and came right up to us, with a knowingness that was both relieving and mystifying. He languished at our feet and snuggled, sniffed and licked our hands, as if he had known us his entire seventen month life. We clicked.
After signing the papers, receiving advice on his eating preferences and sealing the deal, we stood to leave. Lorna gave her "Nick" some last hugs and verbal reassurances and he just simply ran past her and beyond us directly to our waiting car, complete with new kennel and soft bedding, for his ride back to the north bay and to his new home.
It all happened so fast and so easily we couldn't stop smiling. It was like Christmas morning and the anticipation of a long awaited gift. "Nick" was it. He was our dog now and became a member of our family in an instant.
The life he would lead would be between two homes. One by the Bay and one in the mountains. He took to his new lifestyle like a duck to water.
Nick had a new family and didn't flinch at the site of our 3 adult cats that were filled with pure attitude. He got it. They were here first. No problem. He would manage. And he did. Soon after, there was another addition to the family and the one which became Nick's ultimate pal for the next eight plus years...a month old black and white Lop Earred Rabbit, whom our youngest daughter named, "Kisses." "Kick Ass" would have been more appropriate, but "Kisses" it was. He and "Nick" were a sight to behold and hung out together like they were joined at the hip. "Fric and Frac." "Nick and "Kisses."
Our smiling Corgi, "Nick," short for "Nick at Night," is nearly twelve years old now. He has lived a very full Corgi life as their life expectancy is on average eight to ten years. That is so hard to believe, for such a lively active breed and for a dog that could hardly sit still for so many years.
Our "Nicky" is so old now, by Corgi standards. It is unbearable to see how little he moves anymore. The rapid onset of his knees, hips and back end giving out underneath his girth, grips my heart and shreds my hope that he will ever be the same. He is in his decline and it came on so fast.
As "Nick" was the largest of his litter, with such a big body for his short little legs, we feared how this may impair him with age. It was only a matter of time. With only the front half of his body working now, he collapses under his own weight with every step he takes, with such deliberate care and a look of sadness in his big golden brown eyes. He knows he is not the same. He can no longer go for his daily walks with mom and dad and sniff every square inch of both neighborhoods that he had come to call his own.
His beautiful thick soft fur is still shinning in the sun light where he lays on the deck most days. He slumbers willingly, hardly moving any longer. He weakly accepts our love and praise, the long strokes of hands through his fur, the scratches he once jumped in place for and the anticipation of playful hours around the yard, running so effortlessly; his fierce love for life and activity.
He just waits now. We cannot bear to say it outloud, but we just wait with him. There is nothing more we can do for our sweet doggy but simply love him as much as we can. We prepare the special food, keep his weight down for his joints and muscles, manage his meds twice a day and keep him comfortable.
This is the time we all dread and try to deny will ever happen to our beloved pets. This is awful and as depressing for our "Nick" as it is for our family. Yet we know this day will come for all our precious animals that came into our lives with unmatched trust and love. The pure affection, the unquestionable loyalty; the incredible sweetness of being.
Our three cats have all passed, one by one over the last four years and our sweet bunny died two years ago, almost to the day. They all lived long full lives and collectively and individually, brought us so much joy.
"Nick" is still with us, but a shadow of the high energy puppy he once was. These twelve years have gone by like a bolt of lightening, full of flashes of happy memories, companionship and the special love of a wonderful dog.
Time to go sit with "Nick" in the gentle breeze outside, the quiet of the mountains to embrace our senses, to pet his glistening fur once more and to utter sweet words of love and gratitude for choosing us to be his family.
We were the lucky ones.