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Everyone, meet Oscar!
Karl adopted our first dog, Ruckus, in 1998. Two years later, we bought this house together and became a family of three. Ruckus was a Boxer, he was strong and took up half the couch, and I loved him so much. As a child, we had dogs occasionally, but I never connected with them like our cats. Ruckus turned me into a Dog Person.
At the end of 2008, I was pregnant and just a few weeks from my delivery date when Karl's father died unexpectedly. We were in the middle of a major home renovation, went for a while without electricity or even a back wall of our house and this tragedy happened. Karl's dad left behind his two dogs, blonde mixed breed rescues that were average in height. No one in the family could take on these dogs so we adopted them. We kept them at Karl's dad's house a block away for a while, we, his neighbors, and other family members visiting multiple times a day to care for them. Once our daughter was born and the house was complete, we brought them to live with us. It was total chaos having three dogs and a newborn. I'd love to write that we became a happy family of six but it wasn't true. Alfie, one of the dogs we adopted, did not acclimate well to the new environment. Cindy, the other dog, was extremely aggressive. I was focused on keeping a new little human alive, and Ruckus struggled.
Ruckus was advancing in age and it was clear going from being the “Only Child” to being one of four babies wore on him. He passed away at the beginning of 2012. I share more about Ruckus, his life and his passing, in this post. Later in the same year, Alfie passed away.
What we never expected was how Cindy flourished once she was the only dog. So aggressive, we considered early on finding her a new home. She would snap at us, would be so frantic to catch any food that our kid would drop that we feared she'd hurt our daughter, she would fight with the other dogs and draw blood. As an only dog, she became secure and came to trust and love all of us. She was so sweet with our daughter, and she became my best buddy. I share more about Cindy and her transformation in this blog post. But Cindy was advancing in years, and by the end of 2016 she needed to be carried down the stairs and began having some health issues. Cindy passed away at the end of 2017, at home, on her favorite spot on the dining room rug that gets a sunny square of light in the early afternoon. We took her for a last walk, we fed her bacon as a mobile vet came to put her to sleep. It was devastating. I didn't think a dog that scared me and drove me crazy would end up tearing my heart in two. It happened the week after I quit my job to blog fulltime, I was so overwhelmed and gutted it only got a quick blip mention on the blog and in my 2017 Year in Review post.
After Cindy died, we knew we needed some time without any dogs. The past few years had been a whirlwind with a child and three elderly dogs with their own unique personalities and needs. But after a year we started looking. We knew we wanted a smaller dog. Our house isn't huge, and we knew quite well how it is to care for an elderly dog of size. We also knew we wanted to adopt from a shelter. My favorite way to procrastinate was to scroll through the dogs available at local animal shelters. Our city's no-kill shelter has a Facebook page where they share photos of the new animals that have come in. Each time there was a dog that seemed like a good fit, I'd text the photo to Karl. None of them ever seemed right. They'd be too old, or a puppy that needed to be fully trained, or a breed that I am very allergic to.
Last week, the shelter shared the photos of three adorable dogs – a rat terrier, a Boston terrier mix, and a rat terrier mix. I texted the photos to Karl on Tuesday night. They were the kind of dogs we were looking for – terriers are low-allergen and they were the perfect size and age. The next morning when I came home from the gym Karl said, “The shelter opens at 4pm, let's go after we get E from school.” It had been almost two years, were we really going to get a dog?
We arrived at the shelter exactly at 4pm. The only dogs they had were these three guys. They came from the same home, their owner passed away. They were all so adorable, so sweet, but the rat terrier stood out. Each of us fell in love with him instantly. His name was Oscar. They brought Oscar out into the yard for us to get to know him. He was so sweet, he loved playing fetch and would bring the ball right back to our hand. He and our daughter got along great, we knew he was The One. We took him home that evening.
It has been a little over a week with Oscar in our family, and we're so happy. He slept through the night, but the first several days he was understandably hesitant, scared, and questioning. On his one-week anniversary, it's like a switch went off and he became more secure and has started to show more of his personality. He is strong, curious, and sweet. He loves to bury completely under a blanket, play fetch, and can jump so high (we woke up this week to find he had jumped into our bed; as you can see from this blog post we do NOT have a low bed!). He loves to go on runs with my family, is totally chill on car rides and with little children. He's happy to be around other dogs and other than a bit of separation anxiety (understandable considering the past few weeks of his life) and begging when we're eating human food, he's an utter delight. Expect to see more of Oscar, as he's won all of our hearts!