Oscar The Dog
There are very few companions who want nothing more than to be in the same room as you and maybe lay in a pile of your dirty clothes later.
When Oscar was a baby we would hold hands at night. He would sleep lengthwise on my pillow, stretched out beyond the width of my head. As we fell asleep, I would reach up and hold his paw. Fur to skin, night after night. That's how we fell in love.
Those first months with Oscar in our home, were also our first months as husband and wife. We were living as newlyweds in a newly post 9/11 world when Oscar the Dog bounded into our life smiling, wiping his paws at the front door; ingratiating himself immediately to my husband who is a sucker for people who wipe their paws at the door.
Off leash in the jungle of Riverside Park, we risked the wrath of the NYPD by letting our 20 pounds of fluff and breath run free through the wildlife. Stopping only to kiss babies or pee on a perfect spot, Oscar would run fast. He'd go faster than we can probably remember now, and then suddenly stop on a dime and run just as fast right back to us, as if to say - look how fast I can run! Isn't this the most fun thing ever? Run fast with me! You won't believe how fun it is to run this fast! - His ears would fly behind him, and his tongue would loll out the side of his grin. I always felt like that look on his face would be worth the fine if we ever got one. We never did. Oscar was very stealthy.
He made lots of friends. His first friend was Haggis, the wiry black haired dog down the hall named for Scottish sausage, which we all thought was weird, but Oscar loved him anyway. He also loved this one lady at the dog park in particular. Fran, I think her name was. She had the grossest, dirtiest hair I'd ever seen. I used to think Oscar loved her so much because her hair probably smelled like bacon. But maybe he could just tell she was a kind soul with nowhere in the world to call her own, other than that spot, on that bench, where she sat, day after day, in the Riverside Park dog run. Or, ok, c'mon let's be real, maybe it was the bacon. He found true love in Rocky the Maltese. In love stories where the woman loves the man so much she'd risk everything, her savings, her reputation, hell, even her life --- that's how much Oscar loved Rocky. You know in sad movies when someone dies, and some supporting character says something like -- "but he never knew true love" - well, no one would ever say that about Oscar.
Oscar + Rocky = True Love Forever
For years it was just our little Upper West Side trio. And then suddenly Oscar started to pay extra attention to me. He'd lay next to me with his head on my belly and look up at me as if to say - we both know what's going on in there, don't we?
Baby #1 was just starting to show in that tummy,
In the photographs documenting my belly expanding every month, in the background, of every photo, is Oscar.
A little preggo
A little more preggo
When our first baby arrived, we wondered how Oscar would react.
Oscar's new baby
He gave the baby a kiss on the head and laid down right next to him, as if to say - That's how, ok? Relax.
Oscar at Isaac's bris. We thought this was hilarious. He ... did not.
He actually really enjoyed a solid ride in the Baby Bjorn
Four years later when our second baby arrived, he looked at me again. His eyes relayed a different kind of a message - Another one? For real? What are you, an idiot? But he loved the new baby, just the same.
A thorough exam of Baby # 2
Our babies chased him and used him as a step stool and pulled his hair and held on to his tail and balanced on him as they learned to stand. He never bit them. He never growled. Once, he rolled his eyes at them. But then again, so did I. He licked dinner off their faces and kept the ground beneath their highchairs clean. He was gentle with their playmates, greeting even the most timid child with a wagging tail and a bonafide smile.
Oscar in a sea of babies
It is true he nipped the ankles of unsuspecting delivery men, and barked maniacally at a woman with dwarfism, but mostly - if we add up all the minutes of all the days - mostly, Oscar was a good boy.
Oscar being a very good boy
Until just recently when he was too old to travel, Oscar rode the airplanes with us wherever we went. He sat on the sofa in Chicago, letting my dad sit and pat him in quiet for hours. He hovered under my grandfather's spot at the dining room table, eager for the generous droppings he would sneak him with a wink. In Georgia, he would snuggle between my in-laws and their dogs, allowing himself to be part of their pack. He would sit quietly with my mom, or wrestle with our brothers. He splashed in the Atlantic Ocean, he played in the Colorado mountains. He rode the subway to work with Evan for years. He basked in the sunshine between the slats of our patio table.
The hardest part is opening the door. What's the fun of opening the door if Oscar's not there to greet us? Who will let us know how wonderful it is that we've come home safely? Who will remind us that the simple act of coming home to our house is cause for wild celebration? I suppose for now, we'll have to remind each other. Greet each other with hysterical happiness whenever anyone comes to our door. Hug and kiss and jump up on the sofa with glee.
But later, after all that hugging and kissing and jumping, we'll have to remember too, to sit quietly and hold hands with each other as we fall asleep.
Oscar the Dog
Jan 8, 2001 - March 22, 2015