In Remembrance of Niko Chapman

1 April, 2004 ~ 7 August, 2017
Lincoln, IL, United States



On April 1st in 2004, 3 yorkipoo puppies were born in New Holland, Illinois. You, my dear, sweet Niko, were one of those puppies. Eight weeks later, when I first laid eyes on ... Read more >
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Biography

On April 1st in 2004, 3 yorkipoo puppies were born in New Holland, Illinois. You, my dear, sweet Niko, were one of those puppies. Eight weeks later, when I first laid eyes on you, I knew I loved you, but I had no idea the profound effect you would have on my life. I was 9 years old and my life was about to drastically change. You were supposed to be for my older sister, Toni, but I would soon come to understand that dogs choose their person, not the other way around. Somehow, by the grace of God, you chose me. I like to think itís because I ďrescuedĒ you. Toni wanted to crate you at night and you didnít like that. You cried and cried because you wanted to snuggle up with her to go to sleep. After a few sleepless nights, Toni put you in the laundry room so she could finally sleep. You just cried even louder. That night, I heard your cries so I took you out of the laundry room and I let you sleep on my pillow. You were so tiny, you were the exact size of those little Beanie Babies. I was actually afraid Iíd accidentally hurt you in my sleep because I was a violent sleeper before I met you, but I trained myself to not move at all when I slept to keep you safe. I wanted nothing more than to keep you safe and happy and for you to know just how loved you were. Unfortunately, shortly after you came home, you started having weird, shivering episodes. You would shiver and shake and you didnít want to move but you also didnít want to leave my side. I knew something was very wrong so Mom and I took you to the vet. I got such terrible news: you were very, very sick and I likely didnít have long with you. You were diagnosed with a severe heart murmur. The vet said it was so bad that you wouldnít live past a year old. That was devastating to hear. Iíd barely gotten to know you but I already loved you with my entire heart and soul. Every day with you seemed like a miracle because I didnít know if weíd get another one together. I never knew when I left for school or any other time I left the house without you, if I would be coming back home to be greeted with kisses from you or if you would already be gone. Because of that uncertainty, anytime I left the house, I always made sure I gave you a kiss and told you I loved you. I did that because I wanted the last thing you ever heard to be me telling you how much I loved you. I didnít know at the time just how stubborn you were and how hard you would fight to stay alive. You made it past your first birthday, then your second, then your third, and so on. You had a shivering episode about every year or two but that was about it. Still, your mortality weighed on me, it was just one of many things that caused me a great amount of anxiety and depression. Because of my perfectionism and OCD, I put so much pressure on myself at school. Straight Aís came at a heavy price: my mental health. But you were always there for me and you would lick away my tears when the anxiety pushed me over the edge. Things got worse for me when my health took a turn when I was 13. I became disabled and my world imploded. The only reason I never gave up, and sometimes I desperately wanted to give up, was because of you. I knew you needed me. Nobody could take care of you the way I could. Nobody could obsess over you the way I could. Nobody could love you the way I could. Our bond, our deep, profound bond, is what kept me alive, and I believe itís part of what kept you alive. When you were 9, you started coughing. We went to the vet and we received another devastating diagnosis. You had congestive heart failure. You were put on several medications but I did not have much hope. I donít know why I hadnít realized it yet, but you were much too stubborn to give up without a fight. You knew how desperately I needed you so you fought as long and hard as you could and you made it 4 more years. Those 4 years were filled with such heartache and pain but also joy and love. I was so grateful for the time I was given with you. Considering I was told you wouldnít live past a year old, you making it to 13 was nothing short of miraculous. I just wish I could have made your last day more special. I didnít know that August 7th of 2017 would be our last day together until just a couple hours until we said goodbye. I knew that you werenít doing well, you had been eating so poorly for a couple weeks. I thought that if I could just get you to eat, you snap out of your funk. Because thatís all I thought it was, just a funk that you would snap out of like you had so many times before. But this time was different. Unlike how many dogs with CHF go, your body was shutting down. You werenít panting, you werenít suffocating on fluid in your lungs. Instead, your breathing slowed down, your heart slowed down, everything was slowing down. After we got up from our nap that afternoon, I had a long talk with Mom. She could see it was time, it was only a matter of days. But I knew you werenít comfortable and I knew that the extra couple days we might have gotten together would have been for my benefit, not for yours. I called the vet and we got the last appointment of the day. I only had a couple hours to tell you how much I loved you, how much I would miss you, and how very, very proud I was of you. You made the most of those last couple of hours, too. You were so weak and tired but you did what you always did, you comforted me. All your life, you felt it was your job to take care of me, to protect me, to comfort me when life became too much to handle. You were absolutely amazing at your job and you were the most incredible friend. I will never forget everything you did for me. I love you so much, Niko, and I always will.




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