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.


Blogger Procrastiknitter said...

Oh Missy I'm so sorry! I'll keep you in my thoughts! (((HUGS))

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Meira said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. But I'm really glad you got have such a cool dog for so long.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Oh, Missy! Please keep in mind that you not only saved your marriage, you nurtured a healthy and happy dog! You rescued him and gave him the love, time and discipline he needed. I'm so sorry for your loss. Try to remember those crazy "hot dog on a schtick - wrapped around your knee" training days! LOL Much love, Kim

11:50 PM  
Blogger TexInTheCity said...

Oh, Missy! I am so sorry for your loss. ((hugs))

6:20 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

It's so hard...losing our fuzzy little family members. I'm sorry to hear about your loss!

8:34 AM  
Anonymous krista said...

I thought I left a post before, but must have not done it right. I am soooo sorry for you! I had a cat for 17 years and when he died it was like a child to me. I sitll grieve at times and it has been 3 years. I hope your memories comfort you!

2:50 AM  
Blogger The Thinking Man's Babe said...

Hello Missy,

I am so very, very, very sorry for your loss. Dogs are the most wonderful creatures...and you had quite the little guy!

All Best,

2:24 PM  

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