On a warm spring morning 11 years ago last Saturday, my family made the short trip over to the Lincoln County Humane Society in Merrill to see about getting a dog.
My daughter who was 9 at the time had been lobbying Kim and I for some time about the need to get a dog. Our friend Billie had been bringing over her dog, a white terrier named Tristan, quite a bit and both Beth and Alex loved playing with him and brushing him.
I eventually discovered that whenever my children brushed Tristan, they would collect his fur and keep it in a desk drawer in Alex’s bedroom. I am still not entirely certain why they felt the need to keep many months worth of dog fur. Who knows what kind of scheme a 9 year old and a four year old were working up, but I think it involved making a creepy dog-shaped pillow stuffed with the fur.
After several months of avoiding the topic, we eventually agreed to check out the dogs available through local shelters. While there is nothing wrong with purebred dogs, I have always felt the ones that end up at shelters likely need a little more love.
At the time, there were no dogs at the Taylor County shelter, which is why we ended up going over to Merrill. While I filled out an adoption application and Kim and I were being grilled by an interviewer as to our fitness and worthiness to be pet owners, my kids were busy taking different dogs for walks around the area where the shelter in located.
Our choices came down to Kiko and an older very mellow golden retriever mix dog whose nails had been painted bright pink. Our friend had brought her dog along so that we could see how the two would behave together — they got along great and were like two peas in a pod.
I thought about this over the weekend when a picture of Kiko showed up in my social media feed from shortly after we had gotten him. He was almost completely black at the time with a small amount of white around his mouth. The folks at the shelter had estimated Kiko to be between two and three years old when we got him. When we had him microchipped here in Medford, the vet put his age at closer to five based on his teeth and the pattern of white in his hair. Our guess is he is anywhere between 13 and 16 years old, which is a pretty respectable age for a dog.
Kiko is a Pomeranian mix and has the thick doublecoat that comes along with it. Every spring we have to make a point of brushing his coat out and clipping off the matts that he gets from wallowing in whatever disgusting pile of something he finds. He especially loves it when other dogs in the neighborhood pay a visit to our yard, because it gives him something new to roll around in.
Despite not being a large dog, Kiko squirms a lot when he is being brushed and it takes two people to accomplish the task. Since I am the one who has to bath Kiko when he decides to roll around in something gross or eats something that doesn’t agree with him, my wife and daughter have the job of brushing out his undercoat. Last weekend’s mild weather was perfect for the task and soon the mass of hair roughly equalled the size of our dog. Despite being worn out from his grooming, Kiko seemed much happier with his coat lighter, which made it a pretty good gotcha day gift.
It is anyone’s guess how many gotcha day’s Kiko could be around for, and while my wife and I have a number of projects, most notably the replacement of our living room carpet, planned for after Kiko passes, we are not in a hurry to see him go anytime soon.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.