This is Nouschka. She's a big, black Bouvier. We got her the first summer we lived in this house, about 7 or 8 months before I got pregnant for Xander. We had her for 4 years, almost to the day. She was already 9 when we got her and almost 13 when she died last year. That's pretty old for a Bouvier, and she was in great shape until the last year. And even until the last month or two, she was still okay. By the end, she had started to lose control of her bladder and was having trouble going up and down stairs. Unfortunately, our house is full of stairs. Poor darling.
It's been a year, and we still miss her.
I'm thinking about her tonight, because Xander is in the kitchen as I am typing, and he is talking all about her. How much she loved to go for a walk. How he would run with her when we had her off the lease on the back path in our neighbourhood. How she would follow him around (he was a toddler with food!).
What he doesn't know is that Nousch came to us and she had never known a cat. She was surprised upon meeting our two, but it took about a week for everyone to settle down. She scared the fur off Emmanuel when she barked at him the first two times she met him. I still giggle at the mental image. He doesn't know that she had a whole other life, where she lived in a kennel (though she was well-loved there too) and had about 5 litters of puppies. He doesn't know she came to us for her "retirement". She hated thunder and fireworks, and would climb onto the bed if you let her. She'd pant like her tongue would fall out any second. She LOVED food. Xander was a big boon to her diet! (I never knew how much she ate until she was gone. Now I have to sweep the floor when the kids are finished eating and I understand why we had such trouble keeping her weight down.)
She did not like to go outside for long. My Mother laughed about this. "Who ever heard of a herding dog who hates the outdoors." Truly, it wasn't so much being outside, but being away from us, her people. Nouschka loved us.
Nousch drove me NUTS when I was pregnant. I was always tripping over her, because she was always underfoot. She was not generally that kind of dog (she'd be close, but not right next to you or under your feet), but when I was pregnant, she would not let me out of her sight. It started happening even before the test turned positive too! Ray used to tease me and say that "Nousch knows you are having puppies."
I never worried about our kids with her around. If I left one of the boys sleeping in his bouncy chair in the living room, she would curl up right beside him. I could putter through the house, knowing that no one would touch that child. She loved our boys and had not a second of hesitation when they came into our family.
I miss her step. Her wet nose pressed at the door when we come home. Her whole behind moving when she was happy. Having her hopping beside me on a walk or jumping in the backyard. And this from the dog who was "not playful" according to her previous owner. She was serious, but she had moments of crazy playfulness too. I miss her sleeping on the stairs when I go to bed. It took me a long time to stop searching for her in the dark with my toes when I go down the stairs for water at night.