This is my dog, Oscar.
He’s not a very good dog, by all accounts. He doesn’t come when he’s called, he pulls at his lead, and I’ve lost more than one pillow to his insatiable jaws.
He’s not a very good dog, but he’s my dog.
We go on a lot of adventures, most of them mundane, but when Oscar is with me even the most mundane of settings becomes exciting through his eyes. I notice things that I might not have without him. He makes me present in a way that I am not able to achieve on my own. He is always with me, day and night, waiting patiently outside the shower or sleeping at my bedside, and his presence gives me a comfort unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. He’s lying at my feet as I write this, twitching his toes at some dream-rabbit.
I have only experienced love at first sight with animals, and I did so with Oscar, too. He’s a weird looking guy, with an appearance more likely to make you laugh than sigh, and from the first moment I laid eyes on him I knew that I wanted him in my life. At five, I was at least his second owner. At twenty-five, he was my first dog – the first dog that I had ever been the sole caretaker of, and in the past five years we’ve been through a lot together: dead-end jobs, dead-end relationships, death-trap apartments and a mental health diagnosis that turned my life on a pin. He’s been by my side for the best of it all, including finding the person I went on to marry. Taking care of Oscar has taught me how to better take care of myself, and while I’m still learning on both fronts, I’m grateful for the perspective he’s given me.
I’m grateful, too, for him barking so loudly it scared off a fist-fight that threatened to drag me into it that one night in East Van. I’m grateful for our camping trips, mountain hikes, and nights spent keeping each other warm in Northern Ontario. I’m grateful for his enthusiasm for car rides, which served him well on the five-day road trip from the West Coast to our now home. I’m grateful for his patient ear when I tell him my problems or read him one of my stories so I can get a feel for the cadence, and when he sits by me, head cocked, as though he’s trying to understand every word.
He’s getting old now and I know that I’ve only got a few years left with him at best, so I’m trying to make the most of them. I hope that in the time we have left together I can give back to him a fraction of what he’s given me, because although it might sound cliche, he’s helped me to be a better person.
Perhaps I should clarify: I’m not a very good dog owner, but my dog doesn’t seem to mind.
This is my dog, Oscar.
He’s a very good dog, and he’s my dog.