Monday, October 11, 2010
Love That Dog
My father has two best friends: his dog and his tractor. Actually, the dog is ours---technically. Our dog Oscar rewards loyalty. My parents and I live 100 yards apart, so he sleeps on the porch of the last person who just spent time with him.
Since my father spends most of his days outside, as does Oscar, the dog can most often be seen on their porch.
But we have no hard feelings. We know Oscar loves us too. He and my youngest were pups together. They still spoon each other in the backyard. My baby, 18 months old now, likes to wrestles Oscar, pretend to ride Oscar like a horse, and mutually exchange lick kisses.
Each one of us loves our best friend Oscar; each one of us feels like we have this canine’s undivided love, but, my dad does win the prize of the most reciprocated love and affection. Oscar makes sure he is present every morning to help my dad put on his work boots, getting in the way of the laces with his eager excitement. Oscar loyally stays in the woods all day as my father cuts and stacks firewood. (This brings my worried mother some comfort in case my father should ever get into any trouble---falling trees at 70 years old. Dad refuses to utilize the radios we bought him two years ago for Christmas.) This best friend rides next to my father in the blue Chevy. We joke that my dad has a new blonde girlfriend; Oscar is a yellow lab. No former dog has ever been allowed in the cab; Oscar is privileged.
I just got my teeth cleaned and found myself bragging about our wonder dog more than my own litter of boys. The dental hygienist breeds labs, so I wasn’t totally off my conversation mark by swapping dog tales.
I wowed her with Oscar’s obedience and trainability. Oscar never chases or harms our chickens, leaves our cat alone. Oscar never crosses the line of our back door, knowing his rightful place as an outside dog, and Oscar obediently walks to the dog chain with one simple flick of our hand.
I impressed the hygienist with my dog’s athleticism and instincts: regularly catches snakes, never knew we had so many on our property; lays dead birds on our back porch; and once pranced proudly around the property with the head of a freshly conquered nutria between his doggy jaws.
Oscar is the best dog we’ve ever had. I well with pride when I think of his love and loyalty. In our area we’ve had an increase in Cougar sightings. In fact, six have been tracked and killed because they were attacking local sheep farms. The other day when I was picking blackberries, I knew if a scary mountain lion jumped out at me through the briars, Oscar would----without question----lay down his life for me.
There is just something about a dog. I think dogs were created for us as much as we were for them. There is a unique bond forged between man and mutt. My late grandfather knew this. Grandpa too was a boy who loved a dog. Before Grandpa passed away this last November, he always wanted updates on Oscar. I think Grandpa lived a bit vicariously through the sense of freedom and adventure he heard in the tales of our dog. Oscar kept Grandpa feeling still like a young boy who had a four-legged best friend.
Oscar brings us all a lot of joy and pride. And that is why I smile when I hear my father starting up the tractor and see that yellow streak sprint across the yard, not to be left behind. There is enough love to go around. Sharing Oscar just makes the joy of dog ownership that much better.