You never contemplate when you adopt a pet what the day will be like when you have to say goodbye to them. You only know love, excitement, and joy in giving a lonely animal a chance at a happier life. You want to play with them, feed them well, hope that they will protect you. In turn, you get licks and smiles when you return home and a “fuzzy puppet” (as we call them) that would rather be by your side than anywhere else.
It was a warm June day. We’d finally decided it was time to get a dog. Matt and I had been married for a little over a year, and we’d had the OK from our landlord. We chose Nanouk because he was anxious to go home with us and loved playing ball. They told us at the shelter that he was a Shepherd/Lab mix who was around 4 years old.
We took him on walks each morning; our neighborhood was at the base of a local hiking trail. The first week we had him, he managed to jump our 6 foot fence, walked up the trail and found an unassuming family to befriend. Next thing I knew, Matt had received a call from the family saying they took him home because he refused to get out of their minivan! We had to drive to another town to pick him up that night! After many episodes of the same ilk, Matt started taking Nanouk to work with him. Luckily, that was an option.
We didn’t know anything about his history, other than he was found in a parking lot wandering around…..As the years wore on, we became quite certain he’d been abused, and was used to living in small quarters. He was very afraid of people at first, and tried to bite strangers (and succeeded a few times…sorry about the ripped pants Dan!). He never once went to the bathroom in the house, even when he was left in too long and should have had every right to do so. He never chewed up shoes or ate food off the counter. He never barked unless he thought there could be imminent danger. He loved chasing balls, hated baths, was afraid to go into lakes and was quite the squirrel hunter…
And he LOVED to hike…
Joshua Tree NP:
He was an excellent traveler: (one trip he rode around with us for 3 weeks!)
We took him on many camping trips:
Monument Lake area, CO:
He moved with us from California to Texas:
Nanouk went to places like New Mexico (he had a growth removed on his side right before the trip…So I cut up my t-shirt for him to wear so people wouldn’t keep asking what had happened to him!):
Death Valley and Cambria, CA:
Dodge City (haha):
Our Christmas card from …2005? We never could get him to look at the camera…
He celebrated holidays with us:
Many times he went with us to the family cabin in Shaver Lake, CA.
I used to get so mad at him when would sneak up on the couch!
He received the nickname “Snow Puppy” after a trip to the mountains and we realized how much he loved it. He played, chased sleds, ate the snow…
Over the years, he gained other nicknames, like Nockers, Shoondockles, Shanny-nookles, Knock-Knock Head, Nookers…
Lake Meredith, TX:
More hiking at the canyon:
One of his favorite walks was to the park just a few blocks from our house:
He however, did not care for the bath I gave him:
When we had to make the decision to put him down last week, Matt and I both had to remind ourselves that he had a GREAT life. Finding these photos made me realize just how much he got to do and see.
He was my first “baby”, and I miss him, but I know he didn’t die a sad dog who just sat in the yard every day with owners who didn’t care. We gave him the best life we could, and I am hoping he knew that!