Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remembering Oscar, The Finest of Doggies • 1999-2014

Oscar Charges Around the Yard, Dec. 2005
We lost Oscar today. There have been many tears. It's so hard to see someone you love faltering, and I confess that I chose not to see it — would make that choice again, even. Oscar was a frisky puppy for about 14 years and fragile old dog for maybe one year. I used to marvel — to the point of regular irritation — at his boundless energy, his unquenchable cheerfulness, his steadfast guardianship of our manor.

Man, did he know the sound of the mailman's truck.…

I would have battles of will with him over it. Once that truck drove down the street, Oscar would growl — grouse, really— over it. He knew I hated it. He didn't want to growl, because he knew that I was possibly going to explode out of my office and shame him into stopping. But he had his sacred mission. And that mission was to save us all from the mailman, a personage who had the gall to return to our doorstep day after day.

I can't think of anything that bothered Oscar quite so much. In fact, I can't think of anything else that bothered Oscar at all.

Half Golden Retriever, half Chow (with a black tongue to prove it), he was a lover, not a fighter. In fact, he could run backwards faster than any animal I've ever seen. That was his strategy with other doggies who came to play and took too much interest in his hindquarters — he'd stay nose-to-nose with them and run backwards, impossibly matching their speed and they struggled to get behind him.

When we lost Oscar today — when I sobbed over him at the vet's office and Lucy and I hugged him a few more times, stroked the whisps under his ears, dug our fingers into his plush neck fur — I thought: I've known Oscar for as long as I've known my beloved wife, Lucy. Because Lucy was Oscar's savior. Before we even met, she'd rescued him from a dark night, in the middle of a highway. And even though I was the one that Lucy married, I know that Lucy was Oscar's girlfriend. He cheerfully begrudged me — not just my presence, but my gradual Alpha incursion, banishing him from the bedroom, from the kitchen… he accepted these strictures like everything else: casually, with a constant smile, and perky ears. Oscar was a joy to train, he was easy to train. We've still got remnants of masking tape on the floor that we used to teach him to stay out of the kitchen (even, let me point out, when we moved the kitchen to a different room). He never begrudged these strictures, and if he maybe did some poking around in the twilight hours, well, what was the harm? Leave no trace, must have been his motto because I could never tell.

Oscar welcomes a very special new friend in Sept. 2011.
We lost Oscar today. There have been many tears. And just like losing anybody you love — man or beast — I know those tears are selfish. They're for me, because I wasn't done with our time. I wasn't ready for it to end. But he was a good boy. He was a good boy. He knew when Lucy had cancer. No fucking shit. He knew. I don't know how, but he knew. That alone puts him in the Good Boy Hall of Fame.

Putting up with me is another thing. I was never comfortable with the level of LOVE that Oscar emanated. Early in mine and Lucy's cohabitation, when I worked at home and it was me and the dog, we had to work through me being engrossed in a computer screen (or anything) and looking up to realized that Oscar was eyeball-lasering me, giant grin, perky ears. And grouchy me insisting over and over: "Go DO something! Git! You cannot sit there staring at me!" It's true: I need space. I could be embarrassed but what's the point? It's just who I am. Oscar loved me anyway. 

If you've never had a dog, you may not know this: Dogs love you anyway. No matter what particular kind of asshole you may be, they love you anyway. And that's special. It can be irritating, I'm the first to admit; but there's nothing like it. Nothing that approaches the love of a dog. A good dog.

Oscar was a good dog, a fine fellow. A lover. Ever cheerful. Eternally seeking the attention of his girlfriend. Playmate of Mr. Mustard, a cat-dog combination unnatural to many minds. Disciple of biscuits.

Oscar: you will be so missed. Thank you for being my friend, for your boundless love.

Oscar Points Dog • 1999 - 2014
Here are some photos I made of Oscar over our years together.

7 comments:

CountSmackula said...

Beautiful.

Alison said...

I'm sorry. Oscar was a beautiful dog. And a good boy.

Lori Houlihan said...

Tear inducing. <3

lee said...

Lovingly done, Mick. My sympathies to you and Lucy.

teresa said...

biscuit lover extraordinaire! He always knew I was good for several biscuits, we had an understanding over this.

Bob Callen said...

Thank you for sharing, my sympathies to your family.

Lauren Miller said...

Wonderfully said. We too will miss Oscar greatly.