It's quiet around the old homestead today. Hickory the Wonder Dog has gone to Wonderland.
Hickory came to us as a puppy when he was only eight weeks old. When we got him, he had a bald spot on top of his head and a scar down his face. He was the last of the litter to be spoken for since he was deemed "defective". But I'm a sap for the underdog and that made him all the more lovable to me.
The bald spot grew larger and the vet determined it was a dermoid cyst, so Hickory had to go through a major surgery to have it removed when he was a year old. Which also meant the had to have the skin from his neck pulled up and grafted onto the top of his head. From then on he always looked kind of like he had a bad toupe!
The cyst was not the only thing that grew. Hickory was a large, economy size dog, topping out at 130 pounds. Yeah, that's a BIG dog! But then, we're big people, so we suited each other. The living room already seems huge now, without him sprawled across the floor.
His home away from home was out at Shamra's house, with his best friend, Sadie, the cats and the chickens. I never had to worry about putting Hickory into a kennel for trips because he was always welcome there. He spent hours roaming with Sadie in the meadow and going swimming in the pond. (Sadie hated the water, though, and would look at him with distain when he would mosey on over next to her to shake off the pond water.) Shamra's family dubbed him "Big Daddy" and loved him as much as we did.
We said our final farewells after his back legs gave out and he was unable to get up. Hickory's last night was spent outside because he couldn't get back up the steps into the house. Since it was raining, I made a little tent out of tarps and spent the night with him. It was our last campout together.
I petted him through the night, keeping him as comfortable as possible until the vet came the next morning. Then I held him as he relaxed into his final sleep.
Hickory saw Vlad and I through life's ups and downs... accidents, surgeries, death, divorce and unemployment... always maintaining a steady, loving gaze just when we needed it most.
We'll hold him in our hearts always and trust that he's happy now in Wonderland.
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