We had been looking for a second dog when we got you. We’d come home empty handed from the SPCA and our neighbour said that their friend had pure bred border collies for sale but two weren’t selling. We could go look and get one for free if we liked. When we arrived we were shown the very border collie parents (neurotic) but you looked different. More like Bella, our border collie lab cross. Black with a bit of white and shorter hair. We weren’t sure if we were ready for a pure bred border collie but we fell in love with you. Even if your name was Batman at the time.

We named you Oscar on our drive home with you. You were named after Cam’s lunch box brand. It fit because you ate anything and everything. Plastic bags, tin foil and even pink fiberglass insulation. You made us sick with worry sometimes. Things got better once we switched you to a raw meaty bones diet.


It turns out we were likely right. Your mama must have strayed because you were definitely not all border collie. You were exactly what we’d wanted.

I still remember when we saw you through the kitchen window when we arrive home one day. You had your back legs on a chair and front legs on the counter and you were hoovering the cookies I’d made! You even went for one last mouthful as Cam reached for the cookies. We were SO mad but we also thought it was a bit funny. Puppies are like that.

Brand New Oscar

You drove your dog companion Bella crazy with your incessant puppy energy.

We were worried when we took you back country skiing for the first time and you ran the 10km skidoo ride in, bounced through the thick snow up and down and up and down all day and then ran the 10 km out. What worried us was that you didn’t seem tired at the end of the day!

Peeking over the fence

You were the fiercest mouser I’d ever met. Better than the cats we had at the time!

You were even able to catch squirrels and wild bunnies, which you proudly pulled apart piece by piece and ate, much to my disgust.


You never just randomly or annoyingly barked. You barked when someone was at the door or something’s not right. You made me, Lily and Leif feel safe when Cam wasn’t home. I can’t tell you how many times I reminded my kids (or myself) that if someone was to come into our house, we’d know about it because you’d let us know.

You slept on my bed with me before Lily was born. You were selfish with the space though and often kicked or elbowed me while I slept on a narrow edge of the bed. This oddly didn’t stop me from letting you come up.

Laid out on the couch

Lily could touch you, pet you and fall on you in the way that toddlers do and you were so tolerant. You helped teach Lily how to respect animals and their personal space without any grumpiness when she infringed by accident.

Everyone's tired of driving in the truck!

You were sensitive, in ways that a lot of other dogs aren’t. You were never quite the same when you and Bella were separated during six months we were not able to have you live with us. Bella was tragically killed shortly after she left us and we never saw her again. I hope you don’t think we just got rid of her.

You almost died in the care of someone else during that six months. I felt so guilty for not being able to have you stay with me during that time and so angry because I’d trusted that you would be kept safe and cared for. I found you another home for the rest of that period where you were VERY happy! You had other dogs to play with, hikes everyday and were loved. Your wound healed with that care. Still, I was happy to have you back with us when we were able to have you again.

Oscar trying to ignore me

You were always uneasy around the vacuum and whenever the garden hose was on.

Cam sometimes thought you were annoying because you weren’t as “cool” as Bella, who could and had practically done everything. She could cross raging rivers over narrow logs where you needed to be carried. She could wait for a landing helicopter and jump in with ease while heli-skiing while you were very occasionally motion sick driving in the truck. She would listen and obey without question, while you would allow your nose to take you further away when we called. I know that Cam loved you and especially needed you when his long time companion, Bella had died.

Saving Oscar

Your feet smelled like nachos. Seriously, it’s as weird to write that as it is to read it.

You always smelled good and almost never like “dog” or “wet dog” smell. You smelled almost sweet.

Back and forth on the shore

You liked scratches or harder brushes behind your ears and your neck but were really sensitive to any pressure on your back end. This was true even when you were younger. Things that make you go hmmm…

Daily play at the ball diamond

You were right by my side when I started to go into labour with Lily. Your attention could not be swayed. It wasn’t different when Leif was born except that you were there watching him come into this world. You and Cam. You greeted him with a gentle touch of your nose and a sniff.

You weren’t always when you were little but you became a very “easy” dog to have around. A real joy for friends to take care of. I think you had a standing welcome in Oona River whenever you wanted.

A boy and his dog

I remember the day you jumped up in excitement about going for a “car ride” and landed with a scream. You’d hurt your back. You need anti inflammatories but were never the same afterwards. Your back end muscles started to disappear and you weren’t able to move as well. I started to lift you into the truck each time. You got lighter and lighter to lift.

Eventually your two back legs ended up acting as one with the feet pressed together. You were having a harder time getting up.


It broke my heart when you started falling. At first it seemed like accidents like when you were running and went from the grass to the pavement but then it was when you got pushed over by another dog. Later still you started to fall every once and a while when not moving and without anything pushing you. I felt as helpless as you looked with your legs splayed on the floor. It took you longer and longer to get up with each fall.

Oscar chilling in the grass

I hated to watch you go up stairs with such effort and feared for you as you practically fell down them each time. You started to take longer to come downstairs after a night’s sleep. Sometimes it wasn’t until mid day that you would come down. You were sleeping a lot more…

I started to wonder if your hearing was going. You wouldn’t seem to hear but even a whisper of food or treats would make your ears perk up. You never lost your appetite and would remind us of supper with an intense stare and an excited bark.


You weren’t willing to go outside anymore if the weather was cool or wet. Of course you had to go to relieve yourself so I had to make you occasionally with a gentle push or bribe of a treat.

This old deeg of mine

Your favourite spots in the house are in your bed at the top of the stairs or next to my bed, on the floor pillows in the dining room or laid out on the hot floor of the sun room.


We’d been talking for about a year about how to know when the right time was to let you go. It was SO hard to talk about, much less make the actual decision. We talked with friend and the vet about it. We talked as a family about what would be best. We didn’t want to wait until things were so bad off that you were in a lot of pain. Honestly, I want for you what I’d want for myself. To die with dignity and with my loved ones around me.

You were my first deeg. You were my baby before I had babies. I still called you baby until the day you passed away.

This old dog

The vet came to our house since you never liked going to see them. You took your last peaceful breaths with me laying next to you. I stroked your fur, just how you like. You could see Cam and my eyes looking into your eyes as we told you we loved you. We all said goodbye.

27 Responses to Oscar Was Thirteen

  1. Courtney and family says:

    Thinking of you and family! Loves to all! Oscar was an amazing family member and neighbour! Xo

  2. erin says:

    as i looked at these images and read your beautiful, loving words about oscar, i had that thought again that i have when i see your family and your dog(s) …i wish all dogs had such love, such selfless care and adventurous people to live with. what a life oscar had! i celebrate that time and am so thankful for your willingness to share it all here, so soon. the pic sleeping with (a very tiny!) lily and the one with leif are favourites, and there were some from longer ago before i knew you that were fun to see too. what gifts you gave each other, and what gifts he will continue to give afterwards, too. this was your kids’ first dog, too … how special that he gave them the safety, the love, the pleasures of play … what a legacy he leaves for thirteen. sending so much love and i’m crying along with you. it’s never easy saying goodbye to a beloved animal, a pet, a member of the family.

    ~erin xo

  3. Grammie says:

    A beautiful tribute to Oscar. I’m sorry for your family’s loss. He was the nicest dog I’ve ever met.

  4. Bridie says:

    Annie, Cam, Lily, Leif and Kep:

    I am so sorry to hear about Oscar.  I remember when you brought him home and I know what a treasured 
    member of your family he has been. I just read your beautiful tribute to John and it moved both of us to tears.  

    I certainly remember Oscar’s gentle nature, and his boundless energy (trying to run some of that off at Gold Creek).  
    And I remember Cam’s urging him to “be cool” like Bella.  I’m also fairly certain he scared away a bear in the bushes 
    beside me hiking at some old mine one day.  I was scared having heard huffing and cracking branches in the bush 
    just ahead of where Patrick and I were on the path.  Oscar took off after something and then I was worried for him, 
    but he came back and all was well. Whether whatever I heard was a threat or not, I always think of that day as the 
    day Oscar saved me from a Grizzly! 

    My heart aches for you all right now; I know he will be deeply missed.  

    Love, Bridie

  5. shannon says:

    Awww Annie:( I am so happy for Oscar that you made this hard decision and he was able to go in peace and love. I am a bit choked up. Oscar was just plain a cool dog. We couldn’t believe what a great communicator he was and we joked he could speak english! Thinking of you today. Hope Lily was able to cheer up Lily a little.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. It is so hard to see a cherished being suffer and to make the decision to let them go.

  7. Tracy says:

    Ohhhh, I’m so sorry to hear that your sweet Oscar is gone. As I write, I have my own very storm-scared border collie cowering under my skirt, and I think about how wrenching goodbye will be one day. It sounds like Oscar lived the very best of lives…lively children, loving adults, lots of adventures and treats for the taking. Wishing you peace as you come to terms with his absence…

  8. Annie says:

    Thank you all for the kind and thoughtful words. xx

  9. Lynn says:

    Crying like a baby over here, that was so moving. What a beautiful tribute to a great dog. He was lucky to have you by his side right to the end, lucky to be loved so much, lucky to be such an important part of your family. Sending you all my thoughts right now.

  10. sitkaspruce says:

    What a lovely and beautiful tribute to a boon companion. This post made me cry – the love of a good dog is one of the best things in life. Condolences to your family

  11. Maude Goyer says:

    I am very sorry : (

    It’s the first time I visit your blog – this post was shared by a friend on FB…

    Your writing is beautiful. Very inspiring. Excellent post. Touching and still, I feel a lot of hope.

    I will come back on Sensible Living… thanks to Oscar.

  12. Dawn Suzette says:

    So sorry for your loss Annie.
    This is such a beautiful tribute to him.
    Keeping you all in my thoughts.

  13. Annie says:

    Thank you so much. xx

  14. Melissa says:

    Oh Annie… Such a beautiful post.

    I know how much he will be missed by all of you…

  15. lisa says:

    I’m so sorry that your dear sweet loved one has passed Annie, such a beautiful tribute to him, every emotion I have was felt while reading it. Sweet thoughts to you and your family.

  16. Kim says:

    This is so beautifully written and so heart wrenching at the same time. So sorry for your family’s loss. <3

  17. genevieve says:

    Annie, I wish I could express properly how sorry I am about Oscar. What a beautiful tribute; saying goodbye is so hard. I brought tears to my eyes…and oddly makes me want to go out an get a dog for us…He was very lucky and it seems, so were you. Hugs from out east

  18. Annie says:

    Thanks so much everyone. I’m still feeling pretty raw but I’d like to respond to each of you now that my eyes aren’t welling up so I can’t see my own typing. But hey, maybe that’s still to come. :)

    I hadn’t realised how noisy my old deeg was. His lack of presence was immediately felt. It was very quiet while we ate supper without Oscar milling about in case of dropped food. It was abnormally quiet in the late evening and while we slept without Oscar’s constant shifting in his bed or to different spots to find comfort for his sore bones. I had to have Kep up on the bed this morning (no dogs on the beds since we had kids!) to snuggle in between Cam and I. He was a little uncomfortable with this odd situation but settled in to be pet. Kep seems just fine, which I’m relieved about.

    Courtney, you were always so good to Oscar. I’m sad that he isn’t going to play with Bob and Lola or stow away on your neighbourhood walks.

    Thank you, Erin! Your words are bringing the tears back into my eyes.

    Corilee, he was such a nice dog.

    Bridie, I hadn’t realise how good it would feel to hear other’s stories about Oscar. Thank you for that. I remember that time you took him out. Dogs are so handy while out and about in the bush. They’re good at letting you know when something is there and warning that something to get the heck away from the people! You are kind to think of him saving you but I’m only glad he didn’t bring a bear back to you! Ha.

    Shannon, he was so good at letting you know what was up, wasn’t he? I hope he shared those skills with Kep. He’s going to miss the freedom and adventure that Oona had to offer. I’m glad he never ate one of your chickens.

    Thank you, Cinnamon Gurl.

    Tracy, my Oscar would be there with your deeg cowering and shivering in fear. He never did get used to storms or fireworks. I’m remembering that it hurts so much to let him go because we loved him that much too. Enjoy your dog and give him some extra snuggles! Thank you, Tracy.

    Lynn, thank you for being there for me! I can’t tell you how much it means.

    Sitkaspruce and Maude, thank you so much!

    Thank you, Dawn and Melissa!

    Gen, I’m totally crying again too. Even with the pain I feel now, I’m so grateful to have had him in our lives. Thank you!

  19. Jim and Irene booth says:

    Annie and Cam and kids

    So sorry to hear of your loss. We lost our dog Duchess in March. She was almost 16. I know how hard it is to let them go because they are a member of the family. Your tribute and pictures were beautiful. I would like to say it gets easier with time but I am still having a hard time moving on. It helps to know that you could be with them when thay go and know they will not have to suffer any more.

  20. ~Chelsea~ says:

    So beautifully written, and so sorry for your loss of Oscar. What an amazing life you all gave him. We had only had Cali for a few days when we brought her to your place in Cranbrook. Cali and Oscar (at least I’m pretty sure it was Oscar and not Bella??) TORE around your yard in the dark and pouring rain. I thought they were never going to come inside!

    As Bridie said, my heart aches for you too. Your words bring me to tears, and there are no words I can offer – just a bunch of love to each of you.

  21. elementsofmylife says:

    As hard as it was, I’m so glad you got to be with Oscar when the end came. It always seemed so wrong that that wasn’t the case for Bella.

    In all my Cranny dog memories Oscar and Bella are together but strangely I don’t remember him as a pup. Perhaps it’s just that he wasn’t that little by the time we met.

    I remember so many easy walks next to Doc and Jan’s and the way he would bound in the snow and chase around between the trees, both there and on ski days. I remember feeling your stress about him running off and eating garbage. He seemed such a silly dog at the time but my how things had changed by the time we came to visit you moved up north. You’d found the food he needed to eat to be healthy and he really simmered down with age. It’s hard to imagine Cam ever using the line “be cool” to Oscar in the recent years but I remember that refrain so clearly from the early days. He really was a cool dog though as you say, awake to the nuances of family life and such. May his memories life on.

  22. Annie says:

    Thank you, Irene. Bizarrely, I’m glad to know that it’s not so easy to move on for the loss of a loved pet. Sure, let the grief ease but I’d be sad if the sorrow was too easily passed! Does that make sense? I’m so sad to hear about Duchess. It’s been a little while since I was out your way. :(

    Chelsea, I remember your visit pretty well! Cali was so high energy and that rain was intense. Bella was often put off by Oscar’s energy so I appreciated the time he spent with Cali. Thank you!

    Elements- It’s so true about not being there with Bella. It was such a shock and I think we all felt like we didn’t get to say goodbye. We’d had sort of been saying goodbye to Oscar for about a year now. I love your memories because they mirror my own. Oscar became a different dog at different times in his life. I miss that crazy puppy, that age when he was garbage eating (but not the garbage), his enthusiasm for all, like walking, skiing, hiking, or just being with us doing nothing at all but then I also loved this older, “cooler” Oscar in his old age. He was just simply “good”.

  23. Sarah Grundy says:

    Dear Annie,
    I cried and cried reading your beautiful words about sweet Oscar. I’m so sorry for you all feeling the pain of losing him so much.
    I’ve been thinking of you and send you lots of love as you grieve your gentle boy.
    S xxx

  24. erica says:

    I’m so sorry about your loss of Oscar, what a wonderful family he chose to live with, and I’m glad you had such a great lifetime with him. Big hugs to you all…..

  25. k says:

    Oscar sounds like a wonderful pup, and that he had a wonderful life with you.

  26. Tai says:

    I haven’t been around your blog for a long while (life = busy), but this was the first post I came to since having stepped away. Tears. So sorry for your family’s loss. Our beloved Baxter (10 year old boxer) had to be put to rest in March and it was one of the most difficult goodbyes I’ve yet to make. It looked like Oscar had a wonderful life with a wonderful family. Blessings from afar ~ tai

  27. Annie says:

    Thank you! I’m so touched by all the thoughtful words. xx

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