Doug and Kris' Adventures with Nikka

Last Updated: 27 May 1999

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The Adventure Begins

6 May 1997 - The Call

It started out just like any other day at work, but then...

"Hey, Kris, this is Dusti. Can you give me a call, it's..., whenever you get back? It's like, ah, what is it? Around noon? Yeah. It's , uh, ten 'til noon. It's a desperation call. Please call me at 426-6434, I believe it is. Um..I'm not certain of that, but that should be George's. So, ah, give me a call and I'll call you back later, too. I'm gonna hound you down. Ask big favors of you. So call me, would you? Bye!"

I called 426-3464 and got a lady at a woodworking shop. I told her that I was trying to reach a private residence - could she tell me if I had reached 426-3464. She said that I had not. I apologized, thanked her, and hung up. I tried again. This time I got a guy at some woodworking shop. I told him that I was trying to reach a private residence and that I thought I might have the wrong phone number. He didn't know which number that I had dialed because the shop has three phone numbers that all roll to the same phone.

Unfortunately, I had George's number on my phone list at work. Sure enough, my brother-in-law answered. "Can you take my dog for a month?"

"I hate dogs! No!"

"You hate dogs? What about cats."

"Nope. I like to visit other people's dogs and cats, but I don't want one of my own! I like to visit. Then I can leave."

"Don't you like any kind of animal?"

"It's the hair. I don't like hair. Birds and fish don't have fur. Why do you need someone to take your dog, anyway," I asked?

"Steph was going to take her, but she backed out," Dusti answered.

"When does your flight leave," I asked?




"Well, try to find anybody else that you can. Let me know if you still haven't found someone."

6 May 1997 - Guess Who Has a Dog

At 7:00 that night Doug and I showed up at George's to pick up Nikka the dog. Nikka is a dead ringer for the Grinch's Max. She came with her own bucket of food and basket full of blankets. She wandered around outside of George's before we left, but she didn't have to pee (or worse). She came back every time that we called. The ride home was a sniffy one, but uneventful.

The basket went onto the porch, which we cleared of toxic materials and chewables. We piled the recycling and my rejected U of MN textbooks (I'm saving them for a bonfire) in front of the outside door so that there wouldn't be any squirming out.

6 May 1997 - Run, Spot, Run!

We brought Lily out the back yard, set ourselves up on some lawnchairs, and watched Nikka sniff around the back yard. When she got too near the edge of the backyard, we'd call her and she'd come back. Uh, except FOR THE LAST TIME. She turned, looked at us, turned again and took off.

Doug ran after her. I sat with Lily. Lily and I sat some more. We were still sitting. Where were Doug and the dog? I carried Lily around to the front yard. No sight of them. A sick feeling settled into my stomach. Up the block two houses - nothing. Down the block two houses - nobody.

"Doug," I shouted quietly? Don't want to make a scene for the neighbors...

No answer.

I put Lily back into her cage.

Up the block again. Down the block. Check the house. Empty.

Into the little red truck. Around the neighborhood three times. No Doug. No dog.

6 May 1997 - Gasp and Wheeze

One half hour later I park the truck in front of the house. The lights are still on and the house seems quiet.



Doug is shirtless and glistening with sweat. And breathing hard. And limping.

And coughing. And coughing. And coughing.

"My feet feel floppy and big."

Nikka had run across the street to St. Andrew's. Doug caught up with her and grabbed her collar. Nikka rolled over onto her back.

"Grrrrrrrrwowl." Bite. Bite. Snap. Bite.

Doug let go.

Nikka ran.

Doug considered giving up.

Doug reconsidered and resumed the chase. He worried about what he could do if Nikka was bitey again when, and if, he ever caught up.

Nikka ran through the neighborhood and across Lexington Parkway without stopping. She took off across McMurray fields. All the way up Como.

Doug considered giving up. His own version of the sick stomach weighed heavy as he thought about going back to Kris without the dog.

Up the road Doug saw a couple petting a dog. He wheezed up. It was a boy petting Nikka. His mother was watching.

"We saw her running up the street and managed to call her over. She seems calm now," said mom.

6 May 1997 - Dog on a String

Doug carried Nikka half a mile back to the house. She's a little dog, but she gets pretty heavy pretty quickly.

Our conclusion from the experiencs of the day: this dog does not come back when called. She has been accused, tried, convicted, and sentenced to the string.

Nikka: Prepare to be leashed!

7 May 1997 - The Perp Walk

Nikka, at the end of a long blue rope, and I walked 1/2 way to the Como Park Conservatory. I was outfitted with a plastic Walgreens shopping bag. Happily, the bag remained in my pocket. There was a little pee but nothing worse. It was a beautiful, warm sunny morning. I actually didn't mind the walk or having to get up a half hour early.

7 May 1997 - Dog Anxiety

I don't know any thing about taking care of a dog. Once at work I started making calls. Beth and dog-people from work assured me that it is alright to leave Nikka on the porch all day while Doug and I are at work. A morning walk, and evening walk, and a night walk would be plenty. Beth thought that a little family-togetherness TV watching with lap-sitting would be appreciated. Beth also thought that there'd be a special bonus in heaven for kindness to dogs.

Noone could believe that I really had a dog.

7 May 1997 - Terri Visits

It was drizzling after work so Nikka got the quick walk around the yard three times. There was no pee or anything worse.

Terri stopped by to see Lily her new home. Imagine Terri's surprise to find a dog! She let Nikka into the house for the first time. Nikka did the circus poodle walk, sniffing her way past each of the bird cages. We sat down with beer and hard cider and Nikka parked herself on Terri's lap.

Nikka got the dark version of the quick walk around the yard three times. There was a little pee, but nothing worse.

Doug and I moved Nikka's basked into our bedroom. Nikka spends the night next to us on the floor (in her basket).

8 May 1997 - Something Worse

Thursday morning's walk was cold and windy, but also bright and sunny. Nikka, trailing from a long blue rope, and I headed towards the lakeside version of Como Park. There was plenty of sniffing, and a little bit of pee. We walked for about 20 minutes before heading back. On a whim, we took the long way. Nikka stopped, squatted, and then something worse happened. Looking down, I admit that for a moment I considered leaving the little fudgy pile. But I know that's wrong so I pulled out my Walgreen's bag and grabbed it up.

The bag still sits at the top of the stairs to the garage. It's too small for the garbage men to take, and I sure don't want it in my kitchen garbage can.

8 May 1997 - Another Nice Walk

This walk was a nice extended one down to the lake and back for several loops around the neighboorhood. Sort of a repeat of the original escape route, only with the dog. Some more pee. That's all.

8 May 1997 - Just When You Thought That it Couldn't Get Any Worse

Nikka and I went out for a quick trot up and down the block. There was a little pee, but nothing worse.

Back inside, I had just taken my contacts out for the night when Nikka trotted into the bathroom wagging her tail. She dragged her butt on the bathroom rug. Doug suggested that she should probably have a bowl of food and a bowl of water if she was going to spend the night in the house. Since she hasn't been eating much, and since we were all going to bed I skipped the food and got a bowl of water. Nikka lapped up a few slurps and wandered out of the bathroom.

Thirty seconds later I heard a gooey yack from the hallway. Doug reported that Nikka had just puked all over the hallway rug.

9 May 1997 - In Which Kris and Nikka Relax in the Hammock

Nikka, once again restricted by the long blue rope, wanders around the hammock. There was a little pee, but nothing worse. She doesn't seem to eat much. And if that eliminates fudgy piles, I'm hardly inclined to encourage consumption.

But what she really craves is love and attention. She jumped onto the hammock where she sat on my lap while I finished Patricia Cornwell's "From Potter's Field".

10 May 1997 - In Which Nikka Escapes. Again.

Doug's mad cross-park chase aggravated his already terrible cough. He's been threatening to hack out a lung for the past three weeks. This week I started feeling peaked myself. Sure enough, I was coughing like crazy this morning. Not being in the mood for a walk, I tied Nikka's long blue rope to the back stairs (I have to remember later to check for something worse) and went back into the house to spend a few hours documenting this saga on the Web.

About twenty minutes into my new project, Doug looked out the front window and remarked, "Hey, isn't that Nikka on the sidewalk?"

My stomach filled with lead.

I dropped Lily and ran to the door. Nikka was still sitting at the end of the front walk gazing at the house. I opened the door, praying that she wouldn't run. Nikka trotted right up the stairs and into the living room.

Another disaster narrowly avoided. Nikka re-secured.

10 May 1997 - Nikka in Chains

Just Kidding. But she sure hell isn't going outside by herself again, long blue rope or no!

11 May 1997 - Cold Days Ahead

The weatherman is threatening a cold day ahead tomorrow - maybe even frost. We're going to try leaving Nikka in a room in the house. Problem is which room would work best?

-12 May 1997 - BLACK MONDAY

13 May 1997 - DAY OF MOURNING

14 May 1997 - Something Worse Going the Other Direction

More porch-time for Nikka.

Walking towards the lake always seemed to stir something in Nikka's bowels. Today, for the very first time, there was not just pee but also something worse while heading towards the zoo. I realized that the park trash cans take trash in smaller bags. No need to worry about the special needs of the neigborhood garbage men. Nikka and I also discovered that there doesn't appear to be a permit required for starting a bonfire in the park firepits. Actually, I discovered the permit situation, and Nikka discovered that I iill not allow her to eat discarded food from the barbeque pits. No more vomitus incidents!

17 May 1997 - That Last Evening Walk

Doug and I were invited to a hot tub party which started at 4:00. We figured that a good plan would be to wait until 6:00 so that we could feed the giant pink baby and walk Nikka before we left. Everything went just fine and the party was fun (nice hot tub, Tom!).

When we got home at midnight I stepped out to walk Nikka. There was a puddle on the porch. Now it had rained (it rains everytime we go to a party at Tom's, but not until the party has already moved inside), but there are still storm windows on the porch. The puddle didn't smell, but it didn't take a urologist to figure out what it was.

Poor Nikka. She didn't seem too freaked out, and neither were we. We just realize now how important that last evening walk really is.

18 May 1997 - Little Wet Footprints

The little puddle was still around this morning. Parts of it had dried leaving behind a peculiar chalky white residue. Nikka and I went out for our regular morning walk. When we got back, Nikka was banished to the porch, as usual. As usual, she danced around by the door hoping to come in with me. As usual, I refused. In her excitement Nikka jogged around the porch, or more accurately, around the puddle. She left little wet pee-prints all over the floor. I know that, having the whole porch, *I* would have avoided the pee. I guess that's the difference between man and dog.

But Kris, you might ask, you're a woman? Don't you mean the difference between woman and dog? I answer: you obviously haven't seen me with my new haircut and wearing a baseball cap!

19 May 1997 - A Very Bad Night

Drat! The porch was a little damp (and smelly!) again today. Bad news is, the damp wandered underneath Nikka's basket of blankies. Well, THAT basket wasn't coming into my bedroom, so we tried a little experiment. Nikka and her basket stayed on the porch tonight.

I woke up every two hours all night, and I don't know if Nikka slept a wink. We'll just have to come up with some other plan, I guess.

20 May 1997 - I'm Gonna Get Me Some Kibbles And Bits

Last week Doug and I went to {name of chain pet store omitted} to get Nikka some more dog food. Neither one of us had any idea what you look for when you select puppy chow. Our big fear was that we'd get something that Nikka wouldn't eat.

Well, that wasn't a problem.

We brought a little baggie with remains from the original bucket-o-food. If only I could describe the pet-clerk's face when I pulled out this bag in front of a warehouse full of doggie delights and asked, "Where can I find this food?"

She laughed and suggested that it might be "Kibbles and Bits". She thought that she recognized the little bones.

Nikka's been chowing down. Or mostly chowing down. Or chowing down a bit. Apparently, the BITS are delectable, and the KIBBLES are, well, brussel sprouts. Fortunately, when you're trapped on a porch by yourself all day eventually even Kibbles become appealing.

21 May 1997 - HELP!!

All those stories about the importance of removing the urine smell have new meaning for me now. Evidently, once a dog, er, urinates somewhere, it is ever after etched in some prehistoric deep and mysterious part of her brain that this is a sacred place of the Soggy Newspaper Dog (that's God spelled backwards - GET IT?). It doesn't even matter whether or not there IS any newspaper.

Nikka still gets a nice walk three times a day. And she ISN'T getting any more water than she did last week. How come there is so much more precipitation? The smell is nothing to write home-page about either, but I'M DESPERATE. What can do we about this problem?


22 May 1997 - Heading For Bit-Free

It was not my intention to have so many entries centered around elimination, but I am just amazed. This whole dog thing is way different than the bird world.

I found out today where all the Bits go. Let's just say that I was caught without a second bag in a clean-up-after-yourself city.

23 May 1997 - MN in Bloom

In 1958 the Kiwanis Club of St. Paul planted flowering crab trees around Lake Como. The trees are in bloom now, and they are beautiful. Thanks, Kiwanis!

24 May 1997 - Como Park

With two walks a day, I've seen more of Como Park in the past few weeks than I saw of it in the past eight years.

10 January 1999 - Epilogue

It's taken some time to recover from the destruction that Nikka wreaked on our feathered family. On 12 May 1997, BLACK MONDAY, Nikka tore our 14 year old cockatiel, Barney, to shreds. I found him in pieces on the living room floor. I had to pick up his ragged parts before we would bury him deep in the raspberry patch. He's there now with a bag of his favorite sunflower seeds and his beloved giant bell. Just last month we noticed a strange mark on the white living room wall. It was clearly blood painted on with feathers. Barney had tried to escape Nikka's gaping maw. Ultimately we know that he failed.

Nikka spent remainder of her stay on the porch. No amount of whining or begging could persuade us to risk the lives of any of our surviving beaky friends.

We have one last picture of Killer taken in July 1997 at Aunt Karen and Uncle Perry's up north Johnson Family Reunion. Killer has since moved to Salt Lake City.

27 May 1999 - Epilogue 2

In the spring of 1999 Nikka was with her people hiking near a waterfall. She lost her footing on the damp rocks and fell about 15 feet. She was dazed and in pain. The vet said that she had swelling in her brain and spinal cord. He was unwilling to operate because Nikka was so old - something like 14. The best thing, he said, was to wait and see whether the swelling would go down on its own. By evening Nikka was in a coma. The next morning Nikka was dead.

She was cremated and put into a small urn. The urn now sits in my sister and brother-in-law's bedroom. Wanna see?

It's sad to think about any animal falling that way. And even worse if you picture one of your own animals. On the other hand, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some part of me is relieved that our birds are just a little bit safer. Poor Nikka will never kill again.

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