I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table, trying to figure out the words for this post. A lot has happened in my life over the past few months (and you can go back and read all about all the fun stuff that’s been going on), but nothing has really prepared me for this. Over the past year, maybe even longer, my mom, brother, and I have had conversations about this and knew that the time would come, but we didn’t know when it would happen.
Tomorrow night, we are bringing my lovely, amazing dog Oscar to the vet one last time.
We got Oscar back on July 1, 1998. My dad really didn’t want us to get a dog, but my brother and I convinced my mom to go to the Humane Society in Newington, CT, just to “look,” but obviously we knew we could convince my mom to take one home. As we walked up and down the hall, with all the dogs barking at us, there was one dog in particular that seemed to choose us. I told my mom that he jumped up when he saw me, but when other people approached his kennel, he would just sit there. While I can’t recall if that actually happened or not, I can tell you that a few hours later, we were in the car, taking Oscar back to our house.
My dad was less than pleased, my grandma said that Oscar had “wolf in him” and was terrified. Over the next few months, Oscar escaped through a hole in the door and chased down a cyclist, was so strong that he pulled me over and dragged me down the street, and managed to run away numerous times. But he always came back. My dad and grandma both quickly changed their minds about Oscar. Oscar ran away a little less, and mastered some impressive tricks. He knew how to give his paw (both of them, actually, because clearly he’s ambidextrous), beg on command, speak, roll over, stay, and eat a dog biscuit off of his nose. We also trained him to be “gentle,” in which he would eat food from your hand gently; to “bring,” which involved licking a yogurt container and bringing it back to the kitchen and dropping it next to the garbage can; and to “sing,” in which he would howl on command. My uncle began referring to him as the Einstein of dogs and his name stuck with him throughout his life, despite getting sprayed by skunks multiple times and running into a glass door once.
As the years went on, we stopped having to keep Oscar confined to fenced areas, and we were able to let him off his leash at schools nearby so he could get all of his exercise in. Other exercise included running through our yard and visiting neighbors when it snowed and we were outside shoveling. He refused to eat dry dog food and would only eat it if it was mixed with canned food. He also really enjoyed when we put ice in his water or put a fan right next to him on hot summer days. But more than anything, he really began to appreciate marshmallows. We don’t know what it is about them, but he loves them and he’s probably had one everyday since we discovered how much he enjoyed them.
A few years ago, we noticed that Oscar began walking with a limp. As the limp worsened and his back legs began having problems, my mom talked to the vet and tried to figure out what we could do. Some illnesses were written off and some were believed to be the cause, but we never got any testing done to determine anything for sure, because by this point, Oscar was already getting old and we didn’t want to put him through too much. So my mom did some physical therapy with him at the vet’s office, which included walking on a water treadmill and doing various exercises to keep his strength up. My mom also invested in Eddie’s Wheels to help him walk. His wheels helped him for awhile, but within the past few months, it’s been clear that his front legs aren’t as strong as they once were and Oscar isn’t as happy as he once was.
My mom, brother, and I have discussed over the past few months when the time would come and what we would do. Would we know it was the right time? Would Oscar tell us when he was ready? Would we never have to make that decision and he would do it on his own? Over the past few weeks, we’ve known that the time was getting closer and that we’d have to make a decision sooner rather than later. We have honestly done everything we can and have prolonged his life years beyond what would’ve been possible had we not done physical therapy, gotten Eddie’s Wheels, and gone out of our way to make sure our dog was comfortable and happy.
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., we are taking our lovely dog into the vet. He’s 14 1/2, which means he’s lived a long and happy life. And the most amazing part about it is that despite being completely dependent on us for the past couple of years, despite his inability to walk and run and do all the things that dogs do, up until recently, Oscar seemed happy. I’ve always felt that dogs hold all of the qualities that ideally, humans would possess, but their purity and their ability to love and exude happiness exceeds what I believe any human is capable of.
I’m not quite sure how to wrap this up, but I am going to include a collage I made (which unfortunately only has pictures from the past few years).
Oscar, we are so lucky to have chosen you and even luckier that you chose us. You are honestly the best dog in the entire world. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me and all the love you’ve given me. I love you so much.