Thursday, October 22, 2009

The passing of my little shadow


Back in 1999 I spent many months visiting the pound and humane society looking for just the right dog. It was often a heartbreaking visit since our pound was not well maintained in those days and seeing all those dogs jammed together in kennels and needing homes was quite depressing. Finally, on one visit to the Humane Society (not a depressing place like the pound), I saw the cutest little terrier who came right up to the gate and licked my hand. I got him out of the run and all he wanted to do was lick me. He had already been taken home once and returned and by the way he acted someone had beat him at some point in his short 2 years of life. His name when I found him was Pele, but my hubby decided he was really an Oscar as we took him home. Here he is in the early days of his life with us:


Oscar was a scared, timid, loving little 15 pound dog when he came home. From his looks we think he was part Cairn terrier (one little girl who saw him during a walk said his face looks just like Toto in the Wizrd of Oz) and Schnauzer. His torso was definitely all Schnauzer. His hyper personality when outside the house matched both Cairns and Schnauzers. He had a lot of anxieties when we got him. He would throw up every time he went for a ride - probably thinking we were taking him to the pound. He would start panting and salivating anytime he was locked in a cage. He eventually came to love rides - but never could handle being in a cage. Ah one episode we've never forgotten. Just a few days after we got him Tony brought home a "monster" burrito from his favorite Mexican fast food restaurant. He cut off about 1/3 for himself and left the rest on the counter. We were sitting in the family room and heard a rustling coming from the kitchen. We peeked around the corner and there was Oscar greedily eating all the chicken, beans, cheese out of the rest of the burrito (and carefully leaving behind all the lettuce and rice). We started cracking up - and that scared him. I'm sure he thought he was in trouble. We just had to laugh because Tony had left a corner of the wrapping paper hanging over the counter, Oscar smell YUMMIES and since he was very underweight he was also very hungry. Yummies were in reach so he snagged them! We let him finish up the burrito. That was the only time he ever did something like that - but then we gave him as much to eat as he wanted since he never would eat enough to get fat.


When I started looking for a dog I also applied to Westie Rescue to get a dog. Not too long after we got Oscar they called to say a 5 year old Westie was now healthy and available for adoption. We took Oscar to meet Kirby and since they got along we added Kirby to our pack. Here's a picture of both of them around Christmas time in 2003 ...



After about 2 years Oscar was used to rides and had come out of his shell completely. He gained 10 pounds and was a life loving, happy, energetic, frisky friend to all. He was always my shadow and companion in the house, in the yard and in the car. He loved belly rubs and was free with his kisses. He figured if you were using the bathroom you had nothing better to do than rub his back or his belly. Here are just a couple of pictures of him saying "RUB MY BELLY" ...


He was empathetic (or he liked the salt in tears) since he would always come up to lick my face when I was crying - no matter how quiet I tried to be. If he found something interesting in the yard (snake, dead or dying rat, ...) he would find a way to let me know there was SOMETHING TO SEE!!!! Come SEE!!! He definitely had the hunter instinct - he LOVED to chase lizards, rats, squirrels, cats, rabbits ... He only got the tail off of one lizard in all his "hunts" but he never stopped trying. I remember one time when the fountain in our yard was running and something was making bubbles form and pop on the surface of the water. Oscar would stare intently at the bubbles and touch them with his nose to get them to pop. The pop would startle him but he would continue to watch the bubbles with seeming fascination.

Another thing he would regularly do was walk up to you and put his chin on your leg hoping for pets or treats or ... He was such a cutey when he did that!


His "brother" Kirby absolutely adored him, but not so much in the other direction since Oscar was attached to me more than anyone or anything. Nevertheless Oscar would not play with me but loved to wrestle with his brother. My mom has a bed with a big space underneath and Oscar and Kirby would play with Kirby under the bed and Oscar trying to "get" him from outside the bed. Kirby would also try to keep up with his buddy during walks and play time out in various fields. He couldn't run or walk nearly fast enough, but he would sure try! I guess that's a recurring theme that we can all learn from dogs - keep trying and enjoy the effort!



Oscar absolutely LOVED to run. Unfortunately his hunter instinct meant I couldn't let him run unless it was a fenced in area since any rabbit or squirrel would send him chasing. When I was working long hours I used to take Oscar and Kirby for walks late at night and for a while I would let him run off leash since not too many cars were driving around at 10PM in our neighborhood. Well one night he saw a rabbit and followed it under a gap in the canyon fencing. Fortunately I could hear his collar jingling as he chased that rabbit around the slope of the canyon. Fortunately I still had a hold on Kirby. Eventually Oscar tired of the chase and decided he wanted to come back. It took a while to get him to come back near the hole he scurried under and then get him to crawl back under. After that little scare (we do have coyotes in the canyon!) I no longer gave him the opportunity to run around our neighborhood.



Despite my careful watching Oscar would sometimes scoot out the front door when someone gave him an opening. Fortunately he would usually come home fairly soon or would eventually come running back to us when we went looking for him. A few times we had to get in the car and go looking for him and then he would RUN into the car so he could go for a RIDE!!!! Tony's mom and dad came to visit us once and didn't really know about his escape tendencies so they left the door cracked as they went to get their luggage. Sure enough - Oscar was off and running like a shot. They couldn't believe how fast he got out - LOL! So they dragged the bags in and by the time they came back to the door to go out looking for him he was already back, sitting at the front door, happily panting and waiting to come back in and say HI! Boy were they surprised. Here he is enjoying a ride. It was really a sight in the side mirror when he and Kirby were both sniffing out the window.


Over the years Oscar had many health problems. Apparently he was a mutt who got a lot of the bad genes from his parents. We had his hip socket fixed when his back leg kept popping out of its socket. Now if this happened while he was running he didn't stop - he just kept running on 3 legs. Something in his early years made him quite paranoid about cages. He would totally stress out anytime he was put in one. When I took him in for his leg surgery I asked them to just tie him up outside the cage so he wouldn't get so stressed. They didn't do that initially and even in his post-surgery drug hazed he managed to push hard enough on the door to get it open and he fell out. When I heard that I told them they HAD to keep him out of a cage and he would be fine. They finally put a pad on the floor and tied his leash to a cage and he stayed quietly in place until I came to pick him up.

I took him home, with his 3 good legs and one bandaged leg and a bag of meds. He was still in a drugged stupor so I figured it would be safe to leave him on the front porch in his basket while I went to get the rest of his stuff out of the car. Silly me! When I returned to the front porch with everything in hand there was no Oscar in sight! I couldn't believe he walked away! So I went looking for him and found him already out of our court and staggering down the street on our normal walk route - LOL! Even a drugged stupor and three legs couldn't keep him down.



He also had regular ear infections. One finally got so bad that he ended up going to the doggie ER. At the time I had no idea it was his ear. He was throwing up and couldn't walk. Unfortunately this started on a Saturday and our vet wasn't open on Sunday. I did get some liquid food from the vet on Saturday in hopes he could keep that down. By Monday it hadn't stopped so I tried our vet when they opened and found the doctor wouldn't be in for another hour. Since Oscar was so dehydrated and doing so bad I just took him to the ER. After quite a bit of time waiting and discussing various possible issues they asked if he had any ear problems. I told them he had regular ear infections so they looked into that as a cause and sure enough he had a REALLY bad ear infection. Since it was recurring and he had not been able to find any root cause my vet asked them to recommend a specialist to look into it. They suggested I try an allergy vet and fortunately they had an opening that afternoon. So they pumped Oscar up with subq fluids (he looked like he had 2 saddle bags on either side of his back) to reduce his dehydration until I got into to see the allergy vet.

The allergy vet was very helpful and immediately could tell what his problem was. We scheduled an ear surgery for the next day so they could go in and clean out the ear and see how bad it was down deep inside. Fortunately they did have some anti-nausea medicine so he could eat. But until they cleared out the ear his dizziness would continue. It turned out his infection was so bad it burst his ear drum. Once that got cleared up we did testing and found out he had allergies to a lot of the things I'm allergic to - LOL! So we started giving him allergy shots and with that a few key meds we kept his ear problems under control most of the time.

(shh - sleeping dog)

Oscar really loved every moment in life. When most dogs would be layed low be some sickness he just slowed down a little. He REALLY loved the UPS man. His highlight of the morning was the arrival of the UPS man with a treat. Here he is watching from the bead room for the UPS man to drive up (and a shot of him hanging out in a suitcase - he loved to snuggle in our things!)


Unfortunately this year Oscar was diagnosed with kidney failure. He was never a big chow hound, food was not his top priority, so getting him to eat kidney specific food was a challenge. He dropped from 25 pounds down to 18 but was usually the same happy, energetic dog. He started eating a lot less in the past month and it got so bad while my mom was taking care of him that the vet finally started giving him subq fluids. Those helped for a while, but not too long. He kept going just long enough for both Tony and I to get back in town and spend a few days with him. Unfortunately 3 days ago he got really sick and fluids didn't help. 2 nights ago he spent a lot of the night throwing up and having diarreha and hadn't eaten hardly anything for 2 days. He was not doing well. So yesterday morning Tony and I took him for his last walk and his last ride and sent him off to doggie heaven. Here he is in the last few hours ...

He passed away quietly yesterday morning surrounded by his pack. I miss him tremendously and keep expecting to hear the tick-tick of his little feet on the tile behind me. I know he's off playing with my Dad (who he never met) and Tony's dad (he would always stick his head under big Tony's hand to get a pet), but I wish he was still here being my little shadow.

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