Our Hickory

by Pete & Nan
(Fremont, WI.)

When we picked out Hickory, we wrestled with the name. She had a brown spot on her side and looked like the dog in the Dick and Jane books, I wanted to call her Spot, Nan wanted to name her after her former family dog Ding-a-ling Daisy. We were at a stalemate for about 5 minutes. We were in the process of buying our Marsh Road property and it had many beautiful hickory trees on it – So she said how about Hickory? With her coloring and personality it was a natural fit. And Hickory it was, a name as unique as the dog itself.

A Eulogy for Hickory

Thirteen years ago Nan and I visited a puppy farm near Sheboygan falls to look at purebred Springer Spaniels. Nan’s dad said, “Get a Springer, I always had good luck with them!” Well, there was one little gal who showed instant interest in us, she wasn’t the prettiest dog, or the biggest – she was small with white fur, a few speckles and a brown spot on her side, plus she had a tail that went wild as she looked at us. Her mother wasn’t very pretty either, a salt and pepper barrel shaped dog – not what you would think of as a purebred. There was doubt, but with those little dark eyes, and her smile, she was irresistible. We had to have her. She licked Nan’s face all the way home. A long ride home, and little did we know, we were all in for quite a ride! There was good and bad throughout of course, but that puppy’s tail never stopped wagging…

Big Trouble comes in small packages…

Only six months after we brought her home she couldn’t even walk down the stairs – she had a real problem, we took her to the vet and were told that because of the over breeding in these dogs they are vulnerable to disease, and she had severe Hip dysplasia & arthritis. Her ball & hip joint were totally deteriorated. She was in pain, and needed to be put down. But then, the Vet said, there was one possible option, he could saw the ball off of the femur of the leg and save the dog – she would never run again, but she would get around – the leg would work just like her front leg joints and it would be just the muscle holding her together. We looked at her - and the tail still wagged… Nan opted for the surgery. It was the best investment Nan and I ever made. Many things in life are worth more than money, and this sure was. (P.S. She would eventually run, like Festus- but she could still run!)

So now, we had a fragile dog on our hands. And what do we do? We adopt a young Husky (same age, same gender). Holly was her name, and what we did not know- but were soon to find out, was that two females of the same age were bound to fight to determine dominance. The Vet said they would do it for the rest of their lives. And they fought – In the front seat of the car as I was driving down the street, In the back seat, in the house, in the yard, at the campfire (Nan got bit), In the doorway between my legs as I brought supper in from the grill, the supper ended up on the floor and I had a hole in my leg. If you were present during one of these events, you knew these were fights to the death. The vet made out like a bandit. But that tail still wagged…

It’s a dog’s life…

Our most favorite routine that Hickory had would occur every morning when you woke up with her in bed. At the first sign that you were waking, she would struggle to her feet, climb on top of you, put her front legs on each of your shoulders and lean into you – It was the biggest and best hug that anyone could get each day. I believe it was her way of thanking us for each new day. And as you looked over her shoulder, that tail was going wild…

Another character trait of Springer’s is that they have a very keen sense of smell and are natural hunters. Hickory certainly had this talent; if a kitty was lost at night, I would send her out into the darkness, and say, “find the kitty” then I’d just sit and listen for the “ aaAAArrrOwwww”… I knew she found the target. Hickory helped keep the kitties’ safe at night. Unfortunately, three times, she found a skunk before the cat! Nan has pictures of me giving Hickory her first tomato juice bath. We went thru three large cans of tomato juice, one on the dog, and two on me. And the tail still wagged…

That sense of smell lent to one of her most impressive talents. You see, she loved to chew stuff up and play fetch. And many of you watched as she would fetch a rock we threw into the lake or river – I used this trick to keep her busy as I tried to cut the grass, or work on the car, or drink a beer. She got very good at it – I loved watching as she would dunk her head under the water and blow bubbles to keep water out of her snout. Very funny! And 98% of the time, it was the damn same rock that was thrown. Even with her head under water, that tail still wagged…

Chew, chew, chew, Springer’s love to chew stuff. Hickory was a master, She chewed all my stuff, my socks, shoes, combs, TV remotes, wallets, receipts, hats, belts, underwear, and cats. She chewed balls, and toys, and wood, and rocks. Heck, she even chewed my Bubba teeth. Bit them right in half. ( She looked funnier in them anyway) and the tail wagged…

Some people say dogs have a short memory – don’t believe it – One time, I threw a yellow chewed up ball in Moody lake, Much to her disappointment it sank in deep water before she could swim to it. Four years later, as the water in Moody lake drained out – I noticed her standing on the dock squealing and barking – I finally walked out to see what was going on, and there under about 3 feet of water, was that torn up plastic yellow ball. She wouldn’t let up until I retrieved it for her. She loved that ball, and the tail wagged…

Que Sera Sera

2010 has been difficult, I left my job & Nan did not… nuf said… We recently lost Nan’s dad Earl, and our cat Sparkles. But last January, the vet told us that Hickory had a fast growing mass cell tumor. She had roughly 6 months to live. If there was one benefit to being out of work, it was the time I got to spend with my constant companion, my shadow – Hickory. And every morning, that hug, assuring me that life is good today, and the tail would wag…

Hickory has been quite sick the last few weeks, and stopped eating a few days ago. Today, Nan decided to end the suffering. We cry, but this is not a story of sadness, it is a story of endurance and life. Things do not always go the way we want. Tough times come and go. Hickory’s arthritis always mimicked my own, so I knew if I hurt, she was hurting worse. We would take our aspirin and fall fast asleep, snoring and irritating Nan to no end.

With all the fights, the ground down teeth, the tumors and cloudy eyes, it never stopped her from the next adventure. Her last days were spent puking and chasing balls. And the tail still wagged.

The lesson:
“ Life is short,-don’t forget to wag your tail.”
Hickory Schmidli (1997-2010)

Hickory, We love you and we will miss you very much !

Thank you all for your support and prayers during this difficult time.

And please remember to spay and neuter your pets.

Pete and Nan.

Comments for Our Hickory

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May 29, 2010
Warm Thoughts
by: Down Under

Pete & Nan, condolences on the loss of Hickory but what a beautiful story this was. Thank you for showing us how to turn something so tragic into something so beautiful. Warm wishes.

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