Our animal companions occupy a special place in our lives. They love us unconditionally, trust that we will love them back in kind and take care of their needs. In September 2011, our daughter, Megan was living at home, and asked if she could adopt a puppy from a dog rescue organization in our area. The puppy she settled on was a border collie/lab mix (we think) whom she named Nika.
Our golden retriever, Noah, took to her instantly. They played together, slept together, and until she was big enough to stand up to bullies at the dog park, Noah defended her. A deep bond developed between them.
When Megan moved to Orlando for her Disney internship, we kept Nika because she was living in a high rise in downtown Orlando and working 8-10 hours a day. During our frequent visits, it was always obvious that Nika regarded Megan as her human. She loved us and Noah, no question, but when Megan walked into the house, Nika went nuts. And when Megan left again or we drove back home after a visit, Nika seemed out of sorts.
This little bundle of joy burrowed her way into my heart. Everything for Nika is about curiosity, joy, exploration. She doesn’t run, she hops. She doesn’t just race into the dog park to greet her friends, she tears in there, her tail whipping from side to side. And when she encounters a dog who is not so friendly, she instantly falls to the ground, rolls onto her back, and offers up her belly as if to say, Hey, dude, be my friend, okay? And she’s like that with humans, too. She loves everyone.
In June, when Megan’s Disney internship ended, she decided to start a dog walking business. Her area is perfect for it – lots of high rises inhabited by young professionals who all have dogs that spend eight hours alone while their humans work. Nika went to live with Megan and Ollie, her roommate’s dachshund.
Noah’s world suddenly shrank. He sort of moped around the house, didn’t run and play at the dog park, and was certainly less active than when Nika had been around. I’m convinced that Noah sank into a kind of depression. Whenever the two of them got together after a separation, their love for each was palpable. One time, Nika literally jumped out of window of Megan’s car to get to Noah.
All day today (August 3), I’ve been feeling out of sorts without knowing quite why – one of those days when you feel antsy, restless, for no apparent reason. So tonight we’re at dinner with friends, talking about an app we hope to develop, and get a call from Megan. Nika has been attacked by a pitt bull, in the elevator of the building where Megan lives.
Megan is totally freaked out, Nika is covered in blood, and the elevator and hallway are saturated in so much blood, she says, that it looks like the scene of a murder. I tell her to get Nika into the shower so she can see where she’s injured. After numerous phone calls, Megan says that Nika has a deep puncture wound in her neck and she and a friend are rushing her to an emergency veterinary clinic.
The upshot of all this? Nika went into surgery for the wound in her neck, the parents of the young woman who owns the pitt bull marched down to the concierge desk and insisted on knowing who the “other dog” was, because that dog (Nika) was at fault. The concierge refused to give them Megan’s name; she was standing right there as the parents went on about this.
Megan blurted, “I own the other dog and she would never hurt anything or anyone.”
Matt, the concierge, said, “You need to see the security video,” and played it for them. It clearly showed the pitt bull lunging for Nika, grabbing her at the throat. The father said they would “help pay for Nika’s vet bill.”
$1200 and change. Really? Think again, my friend.You’re going to be footing the entire bill.
The pitt is being taken away tomorrow by the county’s animal control shelter. Any time a police report is filed about a pitt bull, this is what happens. I have to say that I feel bad for the pitt. This species fills animal care facilities all over Florida. Most of them are euthanized. As our friends said tonight after Megan’s call, “They are lovable dogs. But they can turn on you in a flash and when they do that, they are wild, uncontainable.”
Please keep Nika in your thoughts.