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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.