Oscar

Oscar is kind of a funny name and it fit you. Other than a Dachshund, I had never seen a two-foot long dog with such short legs. You were built completely differently from any breed. Shaggy, with fur hanging over your eyes and a curly tail, I couldn't help but smile when I saw you. The adoption center said you were a Lhasa Apsa mix with a Bichon Friese. You weren't fully grown but we were familiar with both breeds and figured you wouldn't grow much. I should have paid more attention to your huge paws.

The Humane Society said that you had been returned by two former owners. Both had loved you. One had returned you because of your behavior. The second because they didn't want a custody battle for you in their divorce case. We fell in love with you at first sight because you looked so much like Heather, our Cockapoo for more than twelve years.

Our warm feelings cooled a bit when you chewed through a twenty- five dollar leash on the way home. We bought you another one and you did the same thing. The third lasted for five years even though it was chewed half-way through. The animal-control officer used it when she led you away for the last time.

I've never had a pet that I loved and hated as much as you, though now it seems it was mostly love. You chewed up a two-hundred dollar postcard someone had bought from eBay and I wanted to kill you. You barked when you were outside and made the neighbors mad. And you had an aggressive streak that came out when we tried to take a sock away from you. You even would go so far as to bite. That's what got you in trouble. That and your protective streak.

On the other hand your hangdog Eeyore personality would come out, too. And even though you weighed thirty-five pounds you were convinced you were a lap-dog and insisted on sitting in our laps when we read or watched TV. Like Heather, you even had to perch in my lap when I was driving. Not very safe, but endearing. There was no privacy when we went into the bathroom, you always went in with us or pushed the door open. That wasn't so great in winter when the rest of the house was cold. Even so, we enjoyed your company. But why on earth did you like to lick my bathwater? You were funny looking. Your ears were almost long enough that I could tie them together over your head. But you were glamorous, too. Your long eyelashes would have made Betty Davis jealous. Best of all, you never lacked for affection. I don't know how many times I woke up winter mornings cuddling against you.

I suppose that your protective streak had to lead to the final blow. The backyard gate never closed right and we had to tie it to keep Bearette, our daughter's dog, from pushing it open. We didn't always get it right and you sometimes escaped. Once too often, I'm afraid. You got out and a woman who was jogging came too close to the house. You bit her and that sealed your fate. Fortunately I was with the woman in the hospital when the Animal Control Officer came to the house to take you away.

I'll always remember our walks and how much your heeling had improved. I still get a smile when I remember when I told you to find Bearette, the dog, and you came back with the rubber cow we had just given you. There are so many other memories, painful now. I just want you to know how much I miss and love you. Thank you for the interesting years you spent with us. And have fun playing with Heather in Doggie Heaven.

John Anderson is a retired stamp and collectible dealer. He is also an unabashed animal lover and sentimentalist. His novel, The Cellini Masterpiece, is published under the pen name of Raymond John. Yes, there's an animal in it. A stray cat that the hero adopts. If you would like to read the first chapter of the book, or if you have a question or comment for John, please log on to http://www.cmasterpiece.com

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