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Sputnik is a Rat Terrier, although his dark brindle markings would disqualify him from registration with either the AKC or UKC. He is about eight years old, weighs 16 pounds and stands 15 inches at the withers. I found him listed on Petfinder and adopted him when he was about a year old. Sputnik came from a shelter in New Jersey where nothing was known about his background. At the shelter, he briefly went by the name of "Jax". My name for him comes from our mutual love of balls - mine being 1960s signs such as these and these. Sputnik's ears look very much like the spikey projections of these signs. The actual Russian translation of his name is "fellow traveler" which is also very appropriate.
Nik has boundless energy and is crazy about toys, especially balls. When I adopted him, his teeth were already filed down from obsessive chewing on tennis balls. He will retrieve balls for as long as you can throw them. He also loves stuffed toys and squeak toys but guts them instantly. If a toy isn't handy, an empty bottle or a tiny piece of paper is a fine substitute. Nik is also fond of chasing and hunting rodents and insects. His high-pitched screaming and manic barking are luckily only an outdoor phenomenon. A few times, his screams have actually frightened squirrels enough to make them to fall from trees. I trained Nik for agility but he didn't enjoy competition since you can't bring a ball into the ring. We developed our own form of agility using trees, trash cans, benches, etc.
In 2008, I discovered that Nik was completely blind in his right eye. The vet believed it was probably a genetic defect. The retina in that eye is completely detached. He may have even been blind in that eye when I adopted him. Despite the handicap, he caught balls with great precision and was able to leap and go around objects efficiently at top speed. Nik evidently developed his own system for depth perception.
In 2011, I began to notice some vision loss in his left eye. The vet detected the beginning stage of a cataract. The consistency of the eye was too soft for an operation. It would most likely result in retinal detachment (blindness). At this point in 2012, Nik probably only has 5% of vision in his good eye. I have to be careful where I run him since he doesn't see poles or chain link fencing. We stick to big grassy areas and beaches. Luckily, among the many tricks that I have taught him over the years, he understands the words "left" and "right". This helps me to help him find his toys. Despite the eye problems, Nik's enthusiasm for life and chasing toys is undiminished! We will savor every day that he can run around like a maniac.
|photos taken the day I adopted him, no muscles yet and such an innocent face:|
|rare motionless moments:|
|Nik needs foot/leg wraps when the ground is frozen/icy or he comes home with bloody feet|
|Nik is fast and fearless in the water. He loves scaling the waves and riding them in pursuit of his ballie.|
(photos thanks Eric Maierson)
|Nik is crazy about lure coursing||Nik & the Pacific|