... but sometimes it still hurts like it was yesterday I don't think I've shared this yet, and I've been thinking about it all day so I wanted to post. Maddie will be 5yrs old tomorrow, and with the happiness of that today I am reminded of my Nikki - that saddens me, and yet the memories are happy at the same time. . . This is Nikki, my sweet Shetland Sheepdog that I literally grew up with. To the best of my knowledge we got her as a puppy when I was roughly 5yrs old. We didn't always do the best things with her, I wasn't knowledgeable about her care and food (which I naturally regret), but she was loved more than anything. And somehow, she was the most well behaved dog I've ever known. I have a lot of memories growing up with her - we lived at a house with a large yard, and a pond, and one time while we were walking Nikki stuck her head in a whole and two baby foxes came out to see her. I reckon they thought she was their mom, but regardless it was the most amazing thing at the time! They were so cute, and Nikki was so gentle with them. Nikki used to make my mom scream, because she would play with naked baby opossums, really gently, and then let them go. Nikki taught me many things, including how do to the whole fostering thing. She taught me that its okay to get attached, because it helps. And its hard when they move on, but its always worth it. When my family first started fostering she always seemed to help the new dog learn the routine, and they often learned to 'go' outside because of her. My sweet Nikki was like a sister and a mom to me at the same time. I remember just hugging her and crying a little bit when I was going through those rough teenage years, in high school. She handled my changes and my problems in stride, and she always coped to new situations as if it'd been that way her whole life. Nikki got older, struggled with her weight and arthritis. That's when I got Maddie, and somehow sweet Nikki tolerated my crazy baby and even taught her a thing or to. I still see Maddie doing some things, little things, habits that she's picked up from Nikki. And when Maddie helped me with my fosters, out on my own from the family, I know in my heart where we both learned it from. In a way, corny as it sounds, I feel like a part of Nikki lives on in all the dogs we've helped together, and even now through Maddie - and the dogs she helps me with still to this day. . . After failing health and old age, Nikki had to be put-to-sleep the day after my birthday, July 27th in 2005. In the months after I remember when I visited that the house seemed very empty, even if I had Maddie and 2 other dogs(whether they be foster or whathaveyou). Nikki was ready, and though I was bitter and hurt that day, its something that I don't regret nor blame my parents for. She was ready, and I know she's up there somewhere with my friends, family and other animals who've touched my life - taking care of them and getting spoiled the same. Time doesn't heal, but it does allow you to learn how to cope and manage Rest in Peace, Nikki, me and the rest of the family love you and miss you!