Today marked my 9-year anniversary of adopting Nico — my beloved Husky-Labrador mix — from the Humane Society in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Nico was approximately a year old when I got her, and I effectively made her adoption day her birthday.
To be alive for a decade… and to be a dog. Happy Birthday, Nico.
The circumstances of me adopting Nico were pathetic, if not wholly unspectacular: I came back to finish my senior year of undergrad after taking two semesters off. I was living by myself on campus and in a modest 1-bedroom duplex, and I admit I was incredibly lonely. Most of my good friends — my support system at the time, aside from my parents — had either already graduated or disappeared from my life, leaving me alone to complete my studies in quiet, anti-social solitude. At the time, I was recovering from a year-long bout of depression that resulted in the contemplation of suicide and a 3-month out-patient therapy stint. I was an emotional mess and being alone certainly did not help. Ever since returning to Urbana-Champaign towards the end of 2006, I knew I needed a companion, a best friend.
And so, on Presidents’ Day of 2007 and with the help of my veterinary student friend Dawn, I adopted a thin, timid dog originally named “Jasmine.” I’ve always wanted a Siberian Husky, what with the stunning eyes, perked ears, and the dual-colored coats. And it was Jasmine’s eyes that I noticed — what drew me to this particular creature was the stark blue eye and regular brown eye. Sure, she was shy, but I knew this dog was unique.
My cousin’s name is Jasmine, so I renamed her Nico. At the time, I’ve been really obsessed with The Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and the model/singer Nico who collaborated with them. I remember when I first took her out of the shelter: she started squat-walking, excitedly leaving behind her a trail of piss across the fresh snow. At first, she wouldn’t play with her toys or even pay attention to me; the shelter even noted that she was afraid of male humans. Still, it seemed she was just happy and curious to explore the world outside of the kennel. God knows how long she’s been in there.
On her first night, she cautiously slept on the floor. On the second night, she was comfortable enough to sleep on my bed, huddled like a furball by my feet. Since that day, Nico has always been by side: to graduating from Urbana-Champaign, to moving back home to Chicago, to moving to Jersey City to Williamsburg to Crown Heights, NYC. As dogs go, she’s a faithful companion and the most loyal friend to grace my side. It’s idealistic and foolish to think or hope, but here’s to another decade of this unconditional love.
I know people will say that I saved her. But fuck that; she saved me.