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Friday, July 04, 2008

The Story of Oscar

It was one of the first comfortable days back in late March of 2004, and my husband and I decided to go for a walk together. It was the first time we'd gone for a walk since I moved in the previous fall, and we had just set out, not more than fifty yards from our door when suddenly we heard tires screeching. Looking towards the large road by our house, we saw cars skidding to stop to avoid hitting a very wiggly buddle of energy that came careening across the road to us. I heard a voice in my head say "Oh, that's Oscar" - and it was! Soon I was being licked and wiggled against and wagged into by what felt like a warm and fuzzy brick - handsome spotty dog with a belt around his neck and no signs of identification. I looked at my husband and said "You knew who I was when you married me," he sighed and we turned back home, bringing the dog with us. One of the feral children on the street ran up to us and said "oh my gosh, that's a PIT BULL" in a shocked and excited tone. I replied quickly "oh, no, he's much too friendly. He must be a mix." Like most people I didn't really know what a pit bull looks like, and while I didn't believe that an animal could be inherently born evil, I didn't think pit bulls were naturally friendly, either.
pterydactyl bone
Before long we'd had the dog tied to a tree (he couldn't come inside until I knew he was healthy and safe enough to be around my cats!) and we were inside making phone calls. He was obviously extremely friendly, and also obviously completely untrained. Manners were not something this dog had an excess of. Energy was, though. He would jump on anyone who came near him, able to knock them over with his enthusiasm. After a lengthy game of "if you jump, I'll back up, if you stand calmly, I'll come towards you" I got close enough to really look at him and found his tail was split open and bleeding. I know most animals are uncomfortable having strangers handle injuries, and fully expected growling or aggression as I tried to see how bad his injuries were, but I got none. The hardest part was keeping the tail still - it kept wagging so much! - but before long I had it cleaned and put neosporin on it, and had him doctored up.
trying to dress the dog
Calls were made to every local shelter we could find, as well as the police. We posted signs in area pet stores, called businesses near the area he'd come from, and sent e-mails searching for his owners. None were found. I knew I couldn't just take him to the pound - he had way too much energy to be considered adoptable, and I suspected his lack of manner compounded with his breed meant he'd just be put to sleep before my car left the parking lot.
smileAfter two weeks of searching, a shelter about an hour from my home responded to an e-mail. They were in a different county, but had read my e-mail about this very sweet pit bull that didn't deserve to die but needed a home. The confessed that they had no room to take in a dog from a long distance, but said they knew how friendly and sweet pit bulls could be, and they were willing to put him in their system if I would be his "foster parent" - they just needed a name to put in the computer. And so it became official. Like that odd voice said when I first saw him, he was, in fact, Oscar. The shelter had us bring him in for a neuter, and said in a few days when the hormones left his system he'd be much calmer. That is apparently one of those lies they tell you, like childbirth is a "slight pinch". He wasn't calmer. Vets couldn't decide how old he was - some said six months, some said a year, we chose to split the difference and call him nine months old and chose the 4th of July as his birthday. He was deemed healthy enough to begin introducing him to the cats, so that was a big step. It soon became clear that he would bow to the cats in all their needs, and was no threat to them (though he is still to this day not allowed unsupervised with them if no one else is home).
doing taxes
We were his foster parents for about two months with no nibbles. I researched pit bulls until my eyes were sore, and learned how misunderstood the breed is (a sound pit bull will have basically no human aggression in nearly any situation, but will often have aggression towards dogs in particular, and animals in general) We went through a basic puppy course, where he learned things very, very quickly. I got my first taste of what would become a common response - Oscar walking up and being flirty and friendly with someone, them enjoying him immensely, asking what kind of dog he was, and then leaping away in horror to find they'd been kissed by one of those killer pit bulls. And then the calls came. Two within a week. The first was a woman with a toddler. I thought it might have worked, but just didn't feel like Oscar could be trusted not to knock the small child over (what I know now is that he's mind-bogglingly gentle with small children, and likely would have been a wonderful little nanny dog). The second call was a single man, about nineteen years old, looking for a pit bull specifically. Something didn't sit right. I may have been guilty of the same stereotyping Oscar deals with all the time, but I decided then and there Oscar wasn't leaving. We may not be the ideal home for a dog like him, but with me he would get love, and training, and safety.
cold
And so it turns out that Oscar knew something on that very first rush across the highway, something I didn't know. He knew that he was already home.
find the pit bull
In the past four years, I've faced a lot of battles no one should have to face. A lot of them have made me want to give up. But then this fuzzy warm brick crawls into my lap and licks me and wags his tail and plays with my cats, and gives me something else to fight for. Fighting for him allows me to fight for myself. Fighting for him has saved me. So even if he never completes his Search-and-Rescue training, I know that he's already a hero. My hero. My dog.
someone's chewing on my tail
lookin out the windo
Photobucket
whose crate is this?
cold
hiking
buns of steel
relax
beg
Oscar eats kittens for breakfast
bad cuz must be punished
summer alert
poetry

My Oscar.
Happy birthday, Doodle-bug! I love you!
Photobucket

13 Comments:

Blogger Javajem said...

Happy birthday Oscar!

7:13 PM  
Blogger Bess said...

Happy birthday to you, Oscar. Thanks for making my Amie so happy. Keep up the good work. Love from Socks and Priss and Jack and Scamp and Buster too.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Happy birthday, Oscar!

11:27 PM  
Blogger dragon knitter said...

happy birthday buddy! more people need to meet pitbulls like you! (there've been several dog attacks around here lately, mostly pitbulls, and i'm holding my breath about a ban being pushed through)

12:26 AM  
OpenID sallyjo said...

I think I *met* you about the same time Oscar did, or just a bit before. It's great that you have such a hero.

(My word is zqoom. I like it.)

9:31 AM  
Blogger Kadiddly said...

And he's such a pretty dog, too! It's great that you have such a home together!

2:54 AM  
Blogger David said...

Okay, granted, if I'd read this the day you wrote it we wouldn't have this issue, but still:

It's rude to make your brother cry on his way to work.

You two are so lucky to have found each other.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Happy birthday, you handsome guy! And thanks for finding Amie - you two were meant for each other!

7:43 AM  
Blogger Amy in StL said...

Happy Birthday from my Oscar and I to yours! I've always heard that you don't get the dog you want, you get the one you need. I know that's true for us!

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Amie, please give Oscar a big hug, a couple of thumps and a kiss from me.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is a handsome man.... dog
tell him Shaggy said Happy Birthday

12:29 PM  
Blogger Mia said...

Happy belated birthday Oscar! I know what you mean about how often they are misjudged. Our Mighty Kaneosauras is constantly sends people into fits of terror when they spot him. Yet when they see how gentle he is they can't believe it.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may be late to the party - but Oscar is one handsome doggie. Congratulations to hime for picking a great family to become a member of!
-maria (from KR)

8:28 PM  

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