NINA (affectionately nicknamed "Nini Panini") came into Rescue at the end of August 2007. She was a stray rescued from the Brookhaven, NY shelter and those of us who have spent time with her can't fathom why no one was looking for her. Estimated to be at least 11 years old, 22-1/2" at the shoulder and 65 lbs, Nina was very arthritic and had Protein Losing Nephropathy (PLN) and Hypertension, which is a side effect of the PLN. She was so arthritic that she walked very straight-legged and yet she was able for some time to manage going up a long flight of stairs or take several walks around the townhouse complex a day. She was a very happy dog and loved everyone she met, be they human or canine, and everyone loved her back! She spent a month in foster care with rescue volunteers, the Slowiks, then went to live with the McDonnells (who always have taken in the older/sick hard to place dogs) for about 6 months until Jerri was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and then came to me for 4 months. Spending that much time with a dog, we all came to feel that she was "our" dog. Nina was very well mannered in the house, knew some obedience commands and had such a wonderful disposition that it was obvious to all of us that someone had loved and cared for her for a long time. Perhaps her health issues became too much for them, and they let her go thinking someone would take her into their homes. Well 5 of us, 6 counting the dog walker, got to own Nina for various lengths of time. Things I remember about Nina: she loved to lie outside under a favorite bush at the Slowiks and dig for worms so we nicknamed her the "Worminator" (she also searched for worms in the grass during spring rainfalls); she did not like the sound of a microwave beeping or any kind of beeping sound and would bark and bark until you either muted the TV or distracted her with a carrot; her stubby little tail was ALWAYS wagging; she'd climb a flight of 15 stairs so she could sleep next to the bed; and she slept most of the day on her comfy dog bed. I affectionately called her "Nini Panini."
Her first day with me, she fell asleep and I didn't have the heart to wake her so I went upstairs and left her sleeping in the living room. At 1:30 AM I was awakened by the sound of thump, thump, thump and huff, huff, puff and here came Nina up the stairs to find me. When I woke her up at 5:45 AM so we could get in a walk and time to pee and poop before I left for work, she rolled over, opened one eye and gave me a look like "You've got to be kidding!" I told her if she lived here, this was the time we got up during the week. She didn't play much w/toys but did have brief spurts of energy when I first came home and for 5 minutes she would bring me a tennis ball to throw and she'd catch it or she'd pick up the big soft green "mousey" toy and shake it and bring it to me for a tug of war. Then she'd go take a nap before dinner! Because of her PLN, she needed to go outside every 3 to 3-1/2 hrs so I had to hire a dog walker to come in twice a day. She'd lie by the doorway waiting for Rochelle to come and the last month of her life, Rochelle would bring her to her house for the day since we were in thunderstorm mode and Nina was afraid of the storms. She'd just pace and couldn't seem to settle down. At Rochelle's she would greet all the day residents, fling a toy around for a brief moment and then go in the den to her corner and sleep the rest of the day, unless the doorbell rang, then she would be up and checking things out w/the rest of the dogs. She was Rochelle's first Airedale client and she loved her too.
The beginning of July she was having more and more trouble walking, couldn't get comfortable even on the orthopedic dog bed, was losing control of her bodily functions, and finally wasn't eating or drinking. It was time to help my friend on her journey. It's never an easy decision, but I'm a firm believer of quality of life for humans and dogs, and Nina's had gone down hill very quickly. As she passed over the Rainbow Bridge, I leaned down and whispered in her ear that I expected her to meet me with my other 3 Airedales (Jul, Bear and Ari) when it was my turn. She went peacefully, but it was emotionally difficult because she had become MY dog in those 4 months. However, I kept focusing on her greeting me at the door with her waggy, stubby tail and rubbing against my legs. As Virginia Slowik, her first foster Mom, said "We all gave her a happy, safe, loving last 11 months and Nina was truly a wonderful GIFT that we were allowed to share!"
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