Where do you begin to tell the story of having to find a new home for your dog?
I have waited over a month to write this, because I don’t really know where to start. I mean, I’ve always loved dogs, but I’ve never considered myself a dog lover. It’s not like we just gave a kid away…
But I also get the attachment and love a family builds with a pet, and this story is full of that.
Oscar, and his liter-mate sister, Lulu, were our first family dogs. We brought them home as little pups at about 7 weeks old. I was voting for a Retriever or a Lab, but for some reason Dave was set on Australian Shepherds. Obviously, I fell in love with the little balls of fluff immediately, and our life hasn’t been the same since.
We brought them home the day before Mother’s Day, 2007, and the puppy drama began immediately. We crate-trained them, and I swore my life had ended forever. Without thinking, I even blurted out to Dave that having a newborn baby was easier than these two. I wanted to give them back.
These two destroyed an entire set of outdoor furniture. They chewed up approximately 147 slippers.
And slowly, but surely, they grew.
We loved them even while they drove us nuts. Aussies by nature are herding dogs, with a lot of energy. We took them to obedience school, and after about the 3rd class we just quit going. It wasn’t that the dogs were not trainable, it was the owners lack of commitment.
Dog training is harrrrd. (hear the whine?)
We tried to walk the dogs in our old cul-de-sac neighborhood, but most of the time they walked us. My poor pregnant body was yanked down our street more times than I want to remember.
When Oscar and Lulu were three years old, we were in the process of selling our home, and looking to buy a new home on the North Shore. During the process, we planned to live in my parent’s beach condo. We knew we couldn’t have pets in the condo, so after failing to find a temporary on-island home for the dogs, we went with our only offer: Dave’s sister and her husband in Oregon, who offered to keep the dogs until we found our new home. So, we went through all of the hassles of vet visits, and airline flights…and for the next year Oscar and Lulu became Oregon dogs, growing thicker fur, and wreaking havoc for all of our (blessed saintly) relatives.
We are forever indebted.
(and once we even visited them in Oregon.)
When we finally settled in our new North Shore home, we flew the dogs back to join us. We expected them to frolic all over our two acre property, but instead they have spent most of their days lounging around the front lanai. It feels good to have the family back together.
These two have been really good dogs, and it seems we’ve been through a lot together, so I would like to say that we all could settle down to live happily ever after.
But that isn’t exactly how this story ends.
The part of the story that I left out was Oscar’s unrestrained sheep-herding, dominate tendency. Over the years, beginning when he was just two or so, we began to have little incidences of Oscar “nipping” at people: Specifically, children. The first time or two, I think we were in denial–we had some reason to believe it was a fluke. Once a little boy was poking at him with a stick, and we thought Oscar was defending himself. Another time there was a frisbee going by and Oscar leapt into the air (seemingly to get the frisbee) but somehow bit a girl. Each time we felt horrible, but convinced ourselves it wasn’t vicious and it wouldn’t happen again. There was always at least a year in between incidents, and we were careful to tie up Oscar when kids were around.
Fast forward to this spring. It had been two years since even a small incident, and things had been going well. We have continued to tie Oscar up when friends visit, and we have tried to be very careful. But even on a short leash, as Oscar napped in the sun, he was startled by kids screaming just behind him in a game of hide and go seek. Oscar jumped up in an instant, biting our good friend’s son.
We were devastated.
The boy was ok, but definitely shaken up. We called the parents who were very cool and calm. Dave was pretty sure the wound would not require stitches, but it was still so scary.
After getting the boy home, and following up with his care, the next thing on our agenda was getting rid of Oscar. This was a huge wake-up call, and we knew it was time to make a change. We felt foolish for not doing something long ago.
Dave thought we would have to put Oscar down to sleep. The idea of it upset us all so much. It was a terrible couple of days, scratching our heads about what to do. Oscar truly isn’t a violent dog. But he clearly doesn’t belong in our environment.
Finally, in a last ditch effort, I called a kind man who I see walking a pack of dogs most mornings on my running route. Dallas is a retired pilot, a polo player, and a dog lover. He has two golden retrievers, and a few rescue dogs, including an Australian Shepherd. Dallas invited me to bring Oscar over to see how he got along with the pack. Oscar doesn’t have kids around his place, and thought Oscar might fit in well.
Oscar did great on this visit, and Dallas, GOD BLESS HIM, offered to take Oscar in.
We got Oscar all updated at the vet, then brought him to his new home. We were so sad, but so happy. All at once.
All of this happened a month ago, and it has turned out so amazingly well. Dallas lives about one mile away. He gave us the code to his gate, inviting the our whole family to let ourselves in and visit Oscar any time we wanted. Dallas is a true dog-lover, he takes them for walks, feeds them good food, gives them supplements (who knew dogs had supplements, ha.) He brushes all of the dogs daily (I seriously can’t remember the last time we brushed a dog!) Oh, and last I heard, Oscar was sleeping in Dallas’ bed.
Seriously: Oscar got an upgrade.
Lulu, Oscar’s tamer-sister, has adjusted quite well here at home. We were afraid she would be heart-sick over missing her brother, but so far she seems just fine. We are careful to give her extra love, and are now talking seriously about finding a brush for her, and hey–maybe we’ll even track down some of those supplements, haha.
Now, I get to see my big boy Oscar most days that I go running. He joins me for a half a mile, then I pass him back to his new master. Sometimes he tries to follow me, and he does that irresistible head-tilt that dogs do when they are confused, and my heart breaks a little bit.
But I feel so good leaving him with his new “extended” family. And so much love.
And that, my friends, is the sad, but very happy story of Oscar.
(Check it out–he even has his own personalized tag now…so fancy!)
Anyone who hung in there for that whole story–thank you…You’re either a true friend, or an animal lover.
Now, feel free to share your own pet story in comments below–happy or sad, your story is welcome!
And give me your votes on best dog breeds! I’m starting to dream about that Lab or Retriever again!