I have been avoiding writing this post for a while, because it was, frankly, too painful to write a couple of weeks ago. But, I feel like letting it go much longer wouldn’t really honor my little buddy’s memory… so here we go. This is the story of my sweet boy, Oscar… a brown dachshund with a tenacious spirit and a heart of gold.
Oscar’s life started off a little rough. He was rescued from a puppy mill when he was small. From what we know, it took him a while to be able to walk because his feet were so sore from the cage he was kept in. He was scared of everything and had trust issues that took quite a long time to overcome. After he was rehabbed, he was adopted by one of my student’s families, where he started to become a much happier boy. But, life changed and the family needed to find a new home for him when he was two years old. They knew we had another dachshund and asked us if we wanted to take him into our home. It seemed our dog, Scout, needed a friend so we agreed to bring him into our family.
Oscar came to live with us in September of 2010. At first, he didn’t really like being here. Scout was aloof and not very friendly. Oscar was scared of men too, so he would constantly yell at Jeff and pee on his lap. But with time and a lot of patience, he became a treasured member of our family.
Oscar was a sweet, Hufflepuff of a dog. He had big, dark eyes that seemed to peer right into your soul. When he was a bad boy, he would stare at you so sincerely with those eyes, you couldn’t be mad at him for long. He was a good cuddler, and would rest his chin on my hip when I would lay on the couch for a nap. He was fiercely loyal and followed me everywhere I went in the house, even the bathroom. When I made dinner, he would stand right at my ankles to beg for treats… oddly, he liked vegetables best. He adored eating ice cubes, and would come running from wherever he was in the house when he heard the freezer door open. He loved to run, play, and eat grass as if it were his favorite salad. He liked to sit upright like a person on the couch, and would wear a blanket over his head like a Jedi. He would sit up and beg for snacks too… Twizzlers were his favorite. He had a tail that never stopped wagging… ever. Even when it was smacking into walls, or Scout’s face, that tail wouldn’t quit. He walked liked a thunderstorm, pounding his little feet through the floor. He loved to play with his stuffed hedgehog, and would run down the hallway, shaking it ferociously in his mouth. Every time Jeff would leave the house, Oscar would bark, turning in at least three circles by the door… only to do the same when he returned. Nothing about Oscar was subtle.
Of course he had his share of issues too. We used to say that if he were an actual child, he would have an IEP. (I did research to see if dogs could be on the autism spectrum, and believe he legitimately may have been.) He ate every meal as if it was his last, swallowing the food whole, then walking away and burping. That boy would bark at EVERYTHING! Car doors, shadows, cabinets, television, leaves… you name it. On Tuesdays, he would bark as the trash guys dumped the bins into the truck… all the way down both sides of the street. Our house was never quiet. He had an arsenal of grunts and groans to express his displeasure, and would smack things that he didn’t like with his digger paws. (The poor donkey in our manger scene will never be the same again.) He had many needs, and wanted to tell me about them all the time. I would threaten to send him to the sausage factory if he didn’t cut it out. But of course, he knew I didn’t mean it. He was my boy, through and through, and trusted me.
Sadly, dachshunds have notoriously bad spinal issues. That long frame is awkward and has trouble supporting their adventurous spirits. Oscar was one of the unfortunate ones that struggled with these problems. In the last few years he had to have surgery twice to repair disc issues that were paralyzing him. Once in his neck to repair a compression that paralyzed his whole body. And a second time in his lower back, to repair a paralysis in his back end. After the first surgery, he sprang back to his normal self immediately. The second took him quite a bit longer to recover, but he finally did return to himself again.
Early in the morning on September 26, I woke up to find Jeff sitting on the edge of the bed with a flashlight. He told me something was wrong with Oscar. He was panting very hard and had a look of alarm in his eyes. The back half of his little body was refusing to move once again. We got dressed quickly and set off for the emergency vet’s office. As we drove in silence, we could both feel the impending doom in the air. I think we both knew we would be coming home alone. I just sat in the back seat with Oscar and stroked his sweet face, trying to calm his anxious heart.
When we arrived, the vet gave Oscar a shot to calm his nerves, and did some tests. She explained to us that surgery would possibly help him get going again, but the chance was around 50%. Even then, the disc issues would keep happening, and that the time between incidents would keep getting smaller. Then, she left us alone to talk. In those choking, agonizing moments, we decided that our friend deserved to stop being afraid, no matter how much it hurt us. Jeff and I were there with Oscar until he breathed his last. We sat on a couch huddled together as a family, talking to him and telling him how very much we loved him. I held my hand on his chest until his little heart took its final beat. Our little family suddenly got a lot smaller.
The past month in our house has been so quiet. Every time I hear the trash can lid bang closed next door, I am reminded that Oscar isn’t here. Every time the front door is opened and no one comes running, I am reminded. Every time I take a nap and there is no one to cuddle with, I feel an empty reminder too. His bowl is still on the kitchen the floor and his favorite toy is sitting on the dresser smiling at me, because we just can’t let him go. Not now. Even poor Scout doesn’t know how to behave, changing her patterns and constantly staring down the basement steps, as if her friend will suddenly reappear. My heart breaks missing my sweet boy. Some days, the stupidest little things make me cry. I just feel so sad. I feel like I let him down. I miss him so bad!
I really truly hope that God has our pets waiting for us in heaven. I want nothing more than to arrive there one day with Oscar barking his foolish head off to welcome me home.