In Honor of a Dog Gone Too Soon

This week has been very hard. On Sunday evening, our senior Shiba Inu Aiko couldn't get up on her back legs. It had been damp and  cold, so I thought she maybe just needed to have her pills and lay down on the warm carpet next to the heater. By Monday morning, she was still not able to get up on her back legs, so we made the excruciating decision to let her go. I've been crying ever since. A piece of my life is gone, and all I can think of is her laying her little soft head on my chest as we laid in the back of David's van in the vet's parking lot, and her beautiful brown eyes losing the spark of life and growing dim as she passed. She was only 9, but due to what I believe were congenital defects from in-breeding - she was  a puppy mill dog - she had several health problems and long-term problems with her knees that made her old for her age.

Despite that, she was a gorgeous red Shiba Inu who always knew she was special, from the day her daddy fell under her spell and brought her home, even though he didn't really like dogs. She was born in Nebraska on December 14, 2006, and ended up in Colorado Springs, where she found us. She rode home in the back seat between Amanda and Hunter, who instantly fell in love with her. We named her Aiko, in honor of the Japanese princess. She was a spicy little puppy who teethed on all of our chair legs, table legs, and baseboards. People would stop in the street to see her and pet her and tell her how beautiful she was, and she accepted all the praise as her due. She was enrolled in training class and was the only one who didn't get a diploma, but she didn't care at all. Her main issue at training was the inability to come on command. She came when she felt like it, and no sooner. She wasn't very interested in toys, and would not fetch, but loved to race around the backyard with her tail straight up in air.

One of my favorite memories of her was when we were hiking Waldo Canyon, before the fire, and as we rounded a corner, came face to face with a group of Japanese tourists. The man in the front of the group saw her, smiled  and bowed. Aiko was very honored by such a sweet gesture.

As she aged, she became hypothyroid and gained weight. She didn't like to take a walk on a leash anymore, but didn't mind strolling the streets by herself if she could manage to slip past a hastily un-closed gate or door. She was tolerant of all other animals, except her bro-fur, Winchester the boy-Shiba for whom she had no use. At the end, her best friend was a cat named Blackie Chan. They would lay together and lick each others' faces, or walk around the yard together.  She loved to lay on the carpet in Hunter's room close to his heater, or in her dog bed with the cat. She loved treaties of any kind and hated taking pills and having her nails trimmed. She would get very anxious at the vet, but always wanted to go through the door to the rear to see what was going on back there. In her last year, she had a wonderful veterinarian named Dr. Kocher at Northwest Animal Hospital.

Aiko Marie Buck was one-of-a-kind, and she has left a Shiba-shaped hole in my heart.


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