I am a huge dog lover. I have grown up my entire life always having a dog (until recently). Whether it's petting random ones on the street that pass, or even visiting my sister's dog - I will take any interactions with dogs as much as I can.
Many years ago - the first time I ever went to Casey's house, I saw Casey baby talk Nikki over to her and cup her face in her hands while saying "Nikki's a babyyyyy". This was well received by Nikki who promptly starting licking Casey's face.
I obviously needed some attention from this adorable dog and tried to befriend her. She walked away from me as soon as I approached.
Casey explained that Nikki had been a rescue dog and was extremely timid toward people she didn't know.
I said I understood but couldn't hide my disappointment at not having some "Nikki love" in my life every time I would visit.
As my visits grew more and more, Nikki eventually started to recognize me, but was still very hesitant at giving me any real affection besides allowing me to pet her.
One night as Casey and I prepared to go out with a few friends I leaned down in front of Nikki petting her and got my first, wet, sloppy Nikki kiss.
Casey ran over yelling "AW LOOK SHE LOVESSSSS YOUUUU!!!". Casey's excitement and happiness over this matched mine and she was not even the one being kissed.
The day after Casey's death, friends and I visited the Feldman's at their house and were there for many hours.
As anyone can imagine, it was one of the hardest days of our lives and was filled with tears, hugs and immense sadness.
Nikki was no different. She knew something was going on and paced around the house with a very somber demeanor.
Since that day, I have found myself really clinging to Nikki's love and attention. I am usually at the Feldman's once a week (or every other week) and ALWAYS run up to Nikki for hugs and kisses (after greeting the Feldman's, of course).
I would sometimes ask if Nikki still slept outside of Casey's room - and found that she usually did and would sometimes even go in to walk around. I truly believe that she understood what was going on and missed her best friend.
Nikki became one of my best friends. I would always make sure to pay extra attention to her (even being a total creeper and laying with her ALONE in another room while many other guests were in the rest of the house) and always was happy to see her.
Last week (almost a week to the day of Nikki's passing) Mrs. Feldman and I were outside with Nikki talking about her and how she had recently been having a few health problems. I remember looking at Nikki as she came over to me and saying 'Nik, you can't leave us yet - we're not ready'.
She kissed me more that night than any other time I had been with her - and that was the last time I would ever see her.
When Mr. Feldman told me about Nikki's passing he said "Nikki is with Casey now".
After reading that text I immediately started sobbing in front of my entire family. My devastation was overwhelming and I could not stop crying for the rest of the night into the next day.
Nikki was Casey's dog to me. She was her buddy who Casey would always talk about and make a big fuss over every time she saw her. Seeing Nikki always helped bring back great memories of my dear friend and knowing I would never have her to bring those memories back saddened me more than I could have ever expected.
I will miss getting my 'Nikki greeting' from now on when I visit the Feldman's, but I know she is with my friend taking care of her.
As I write this on the morning of Casey's birthday I am very sad, but I also know that she is not spending her birthday alone. She and Nikki will be present in the Feldman house tonight as we celebrate Casey's life and how full of a life she led in such a short amount of time.
I miss my friends, Nikki and Casey - but their spirits will always be present in their house and in our hearts and it comforts me to know that they are together - with Casey baby talking Nikki and Nikki responding with wet, sloppy kisses.
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