Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Goodbye, old friend

Back in the spring of 1991, I was engaged but living by myself and eager for canine companionship. A friend of mine told me that a lady she worked with had found a puppy in her neighborhood and wanted to know if I was interested. It was love at first site. He was a cute little black puff ball and the vet estimated he was about 5 weeks old and had some kind of wire-haired terrier in him. He was a feisty little thing and I named him Oscar.

As a young pup he would climb any obstacle that separated him from me or any of the fun, “forbidden” objects in the house, and he would give you a cute little puppy growl if you tried to take anything away from him. In October of that year, the hubby and I married and he moved in. A territory war began between my two guys. Oscar would frequently choose the hubby’s clothes to chew or pee on, and he was often the subject of our early marriage fights. In fact, one night it became so bad that my husband said it was either him or the dog. I chose the dog, but then decided to meet him halfway and try obedience lessons.

From the first lesson I was hooked. I learned so much about dogs and their behavior, body language, and the ways they communicate, and most importantly, I learned how to make my dog behave using positive reinforcement. I also learned the importance of crate training. I can honestly say that dog obedience lessons saved my marriage. We took lessons for several years, and I was encouraged to take up competition training by one of my good friends and teacher. Even though Oscar was a mutt, I found out I could register him with the United Kennel Club (UKC) and show him in obedience as an American Mixed Breed dog. We registered and soon a UKC-sanctioned trial came to our area. We entered and competed against a couple other dogs in his bracket and took first place. Our performance was far from perfect and honestly, I think one of the judges just felt sorry for us, but we got the certificate to say he earned his CDX. It was an awesome feeling.

Even though we earned our certificate in obedience, Oscar was never the type of dog you could really trust around small children or other dogs. He was aggressive and territorial so we retired and only occasionally practiced our old obedience routines. Over the years he became more cantankerous as he got older – a true Oscar the Grouch. When we had our son, we were very careful when he had any interactions with Oscar. Oscar wanted nothing to do with Braden, and Braden learned to leave Oscar alone. By the time Kelsey was born this year, Oscar had already been confined to the dining room as it has a tile floor and he had frequent accidents.

In the days leading up to Christmas, it was apparent that he was becoming more and more confused and when let outside, he would frequently stand staring at the grass as if he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. This was especially troublesome because we have a pool in the backyard and we were afraid that he would fall in and drown. The past 3 mornings we woke up to find him completely unaware that he was lying in his own feces, and we decided that it was time to say goodbye. I took him to the veterinary clinic this morning and the doctor was very kind and talked to me for a long time about this decision. He agreed that Oscar’s quality of life was greatly diminished and it was time. I made peace with my decision, said a tearful goodbye and left him in the vet’s care. I could have held him while the vet administered the euthanasia drugs, but I just didn’t think I’d be able to handle that. All I can do is pray that he had a very peaceful passing.

Goodbye, old friend. You were a good companion to me for 15½ years and I hope to see you again some day, when we cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

Monday, December 11, 2006


No, this is not another late post that should have been written around Thanksgiving telling you what I’m thankful for. (Ok, it sort of is, but play along with me here.) So lately the kiddos have been driving me a little bit batty. I think that’s normal when you have to spend time with anyone 24/7. “But Missy,” you say, “you’re not with your kids 24/7. You work, remember?” Ah yes, and I am thankful for that job because it gives me a break from the crazy. We recently had 2 snow days at home because schools, daycares, and my job were closed, which gave us another 4-day weekend right after the Thanksgiving 4-day weekend, and I came to realize during that time that I’m not really stay-at-home-mom material. I love my kids dearly and would do anything to protect them, but I need some space and a little time to myself each day to just zone out. You can’t really do that when you are snowed in at home with 2 kids and your spouse goes ahead and goes to work because jeez, he’s the boss and what kind of example would that set?

So anyway, I decided in order to keep my sanity I’m just going to embrace the crazy. Instead of dwelling on how much the boy’s incessant chatter grates on my nerves when I long for peace and quiet (because my GOD, the child never shuts up), I will focus on how thankful I am that he is able to express himself through language. Check out some of the gems he has come up with lately:
“Mom, you’re my sweetheart.”
“Mom, thank you for sharing your milk with my sister.”
“Ah, Kelsey girl, it’s ok. Don’t cry.”
To Kelsey: “When the paci falls on the floor, you gotta check for hair because we don’t eat hair.”
“Mom, you’re my best friend.”
“Mom, you and Kelsey are my best friends.”
When I ask if Daddy is his best friend too, he says, “I suppose.”

Instead of dwelling on how smothered I sometimes feel because a certain baby girl wants me to hold her 75% of the day (I’m not kidding – you set her down and she cries. I can’t handle the crying. It rips open my soul.) and I can’t get anything done in the house, I will try to remember that she’s getting older by the minute and soon she won’t want me to hold her anymore. The cleaning can wait. And instead of feeling irritated that she’s whining and fussing and saying “Mamamamamamama” over and over again while she’s in her exersaucer and I’m doing dishes, I will rejoice that she said “Mama” as her first word.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed and sometimes burdened by my parental responsibilities, I will keep in mind how truly blessed I am to have such terrific kids. Instead of feeling sorry for myself because the hubby is never home and helping me, I will remember that he isn’t home because he’s working and being a good provider for his family. And finally, instead of getting stressed this holiday season about all the shopping I need to finish and the cleaning I still need to do, I will relax and remember that I have a lot to be thankful for.