Living with Pets, Nika Kagui was originally published in The Bridge, the magazine published by IWAP – International Women’s Association of Prague. Nika Kagui was more than just a pet, she was a beloved dog that was part of our family. We still miss her every day, but the memories of her are no longer sad.
I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change. My busy mother found time to take her on countless of walks every few hours, my neat germ-phobic father heard her howling one night and she’s slept in his bed ever since, and I discovered the true meaning of unconditional love.
But there were many sacrifices too. We couldn’t go on as many family trips, we worried too much about leaving her with others. Also, just like many other purebred Labradors, Nika had many health problems; one vet even recommended that we ‘don’t waste our time and money and put her to sleep’. She had hip problems among many others, and she was at risk of not live past 3. We decided to take our chances and vowed to keep her alive for as long as possible as long as she didn’t suffer and had the will to live – and boy did she love living.
She was always full of energy and curiosity. Among driving in the car and playing with Leia, a puppy we bought for her because she couldn’t have her own, her passion was swimming. She would climb the ladder into the blow-up pool in our garden with confidence; look at us to see if we were watching her and then jump in and swim for hours. When she got out she would dry herself on a towel that we laid out for her. Watching this regular routine never got old and always raised our spirits.
But despite the happy moments, there was also a lot of worrying involved. She underwent over 7 operations over the 8 years and 5 months of her life. Seeing her shaved in strange placed, bandaged up, limping with sleepy eyes after a long operation was always horrible. But no matter what state she was in, she would greet us warmly; wagging her tail, begging us for a treat and making us scratch her back. Her eyes always twinkled with gratefulness and happiness that made every single sacrifice worth it.
When she died in surgery a few months back, we were devastated. She was more than a dog: she was a member of the family, a friend and a reflection of ourselves. She fought for her life until the end. When her heart stopped during other surgeries, she would make it beat again. When we worried that we were selfish to put her through the operations, she showed us that she too wanted more than anything to live. Her bravery, determination, happiness and her endless supply of love is something that along with the memory of her will be with us in our hearts forever.