This is Oscar.
He is our dog.
He is a member of our family.
He was our first baby.
He is old now.
I remember the day I brought Oscar home from a local Miniature Schnauzer breeder. It was a warm, early-June Saturday morning. Kevin was at work and I was nervous. We had moved into our house and put down brand new carpet the previous summer and I dreaded the thought of pee and poop everywhere!
Yet, I had wanted to get a dog and I knew that puppies needed training. Oscar was a quick learner and we received a lot of great advice from my parents who had been raising Oscar's uncle for a few years already
Oscar has been a faithful dog. He has tolerated the birth of one baby and then another and then another. He has never complained. He has never acted out. He has never waivered from his responsibilities. He even put up with his toenails being painted hot pink last summer, just because we were bored.
In his geriatric state, Oscar has taken on a not-so-pleasant scent requiring, much to his chagrin, more frequent baths. He makes more noise these days too, however, not in the way of barking. He grunts and groans, but not in a way that would suggest he's in pain or discomfort. This has simply become who he is.
If he's not following me around the house or pacing circles around the kitchen island, Oscar can generally be found in one of two places...
His bed in the kitchen under the desk, or,
Under mine and Kevin's bed, usually on Kevin's side. I don't know if that part is intentional or if it's just happened out that way.
I will admit that, with the birth of each child, I became more distant with and even more irritated by Oscar at times. I'd get angry, for example, that it's raining outside, I have a baby crying or children fighting and I've let Oscar out and now I can't find him. When he finally does make himself visible I then have wet, muddy paws to clean. All four of them! It seems trivial now, but in the moment, it likely felt like the end of the world.
Now that I haven't had a baby around for a while, I find myself drawn to Oscar more these days. Perhaps I feel some guilt over those years when I treated him like he was in the way. Yet another dependant in my life. He wants for nothing but to be fed and given a clean drink of water, to be let out when nature calls and to receive the occasional kind words and scratch of the ears.
I know the day will come when Oscar's life on earth comes to an end and it will be a sad day for our family. It will be a teachable moment for our children and one that will help them grow and learn about coping with one of life's many disappointments.
Until then, I'll continue to enjoy watching Oscar sit on the front stair steps as the late morning sunlight pours in
on his skin until he lays there, panting, with his little pink tongue hanging out. I'll continue to watch how excited Oscar still gets when he sees that my Dad is at the door, here to spoil him like only my Dad can do. And I will continue to bake him the peanut butter treats that still make his little stub of a tail wag.