During the whole ‘getting to know you’ phase of this blog, I’ve told you all about who we are, but there’s one important member of the family that I haven’t really mentioned yet. That’s right – it’s time to introduce you to my wiener.
This is Oscar:
As far as I’m concerned, no family is complete without a dog (unless of course you’re severely allergic, in which case a dog sleeping on your pillow would probably be your little version of hell). Years and years ago, before kids, before college funds, and before weekly trips to Costco, the hubby and I lived quite a carefree life in Southern England. We had a lovely little house and spent our weekends hanging out with friends and going on relaxing little mini breaks to Cornwall. But as happy as we were, our home just didn’t feel complete without a dog. Mind you, the hubby had never had a dog. He liked them and all, but everyone else always had a dog. He just cuddled with them, gave them a good petting and then handed them back. We pretty much had the same approach with children at the time.
I, however, had always had a dog. A wiener dog to be precise. When I moved from the USA to England, people always wanted to know what I missed most about my former home. “My dog” I would always say. You know you’ll miss your family, you know you’ll miss your friends, but you never realize how much you’ll miss your dog until they’re not there, stretching out horizontally across your bed at night and forcing you to teeter on the very edge of the mattress.
Gregor was a bit reluctant about the whole idea of actually getting a dog. It’s a big responsibility, he would say. We can’t just get up and go anymore, he would tell me. Vet bills can be huge and who knows how much it’ll eat, he would warn. But I didn’t care. I knew we were ready. I knew he would fall completely head-over-heels in love with it as soon as he held it in his arms. I just had to find the right time and the right dog.
And then he announced that he had to work up in Northern England for nine straight months. That was it! There was no way that I was spending five nights a week for nine months all alone in our house without a little doggie to keep me company, I told him. I needed it for protection, I pleaded (which is a complete lie because if you’ve ever crossed paths with a wiener dog, you know that they’re not exactly threatening….they’ll bark like a fierce beast for about two minutes, give up and then just start humping your shin).
I immediately tracked down a miniature dachshund that had been born six weeks earlier in Eastern England. We were on the opposite coast, but that weekend we could drive across the country to pick up our new puppy. The breeder emailed me a photo of him. He had dark brown eyes that took up most of his face and melted my heart through the computer screen. He was the last one left. The runt of the littler that had been beaten up on and not wanted by anyone else because he was smaller and his coat was a bit patchy. She’d give me a good deal on him, she said over the phone, which was music to my ears. We’d just bought our first house and money wasn’t exactly bursting out of my wallet. But I had to save him. As soon as I saw his photo, I knew that we had to drive across England and bring him home.
I remember calling up Gregor at work, frantically telling him how I’d found the cutest little dog online and that I’d just emailed him the photos. He probably couldn’t understand a word I was saying as I rambled off every single detail that the breeder had just told me over the phone. I was trying to be calm – he always tells me that I get way too excited about things (he’s right) and that I need to give him time to digest things – but no matter how I tried, I still sounded like I’d been sucking on helium balloons and snorting sugar through a straw. There was a long pause (it probably wasn’t actually long at all, but at the time it felt like forever). There was a loud sigh (which may have just been him breathing on the phone, but I was so sensitive to every sound that he was making in that exact moment).
“Ok.” He finally said. “Let’s get him. But you’re training him!”
That Saturday, we drove four hours across England to pick up our puppy. His fur was patchy, he had scratches on the top of his head, and he literally vibrated with nerves when I held him. I handed him to Gregor and within a couple of minutes, he had started to fall asleep. He was meant to be ours.
“Well, he’s going to have a spoiled little life, isn’t he?” the breeder said in her raspy, two-packets-of cigarettes-a-day voice as we were leaving. That was probably a dig at us (now that we’d handed over the money), but I just let it roll off like oil and water. No one was killing our new puppy buzz. No one.
He looked like an Oscar. No other name seemed right. He was so tiny that the only kind of harness that we could get to fit him was a ferret harness. For two straight months, I came home every single day on my lunch break to make him scrambled eggs because the vet said it would give him a lush, shiny coat (he was right). He took forever to house train and had a penchant for pooping on our welcome door mat. I’d wake up in the morning to find him literally wrapped around my head on the top of my pillow. He owned our neighborhood and had personally claimed every single tree and bush on the street as his own. He barked at everything. If a car was within a mile radius of our house, he barked. If a baby cried two towns away, he barked. If a mouse farted outside, he barked. It drove us insane.
A few years later, Oscar was loaded onto an Air Canada flight that would take us to our new life in Canada. He’d always been so gentle in England (aside from the barking), but as soon as we landed in Edmonton, his inner hunter came bursting out of him. My sweet little puppy was replaced by a methodical, poised predator who hid in bushes and crushed his prey with his teeth. Within the first few months, he’d caught three birds. We had no choice but to scold him (as if he knew what we were saying), wash out his mouth (which he really wasn’t happy about) and have solemn bird burials in the backyard. I’m pretty sure our neighbors thought we were a little weird.
And here we are today. Oscar will be ten years old this year. He’s watched us bring home three babies and each time, we couldn’t take the baby out of the car seat until he had properly sniffed and slobbered over every inch of the baby’s body (don’t tell Ro-Ro…he goes berserk when Oscar licks him). He has Gregor wrapped right around his paw and it’s a complete lovefest every time Gregor walks into the house. He still tries to hunt, but usually he just can’t be bothered. He’d much rather lay in a sunbeam and snooze. He once mistook my toe for a tissue and I ended up with three stitches, but his eyes said that he didn’t mean to do it. He barks at the most inconvenient of times, usually when one of the boys has just gone down for a nap. He eats rabbit poop and then has the squirts for a week (but never, ever learns his lesson). He rolls in badger poop and even after three baths, I can’t get the stench off of his fur. Basically, he always smells.
Most of all, he doesn’t like to be known as a ‘wiener dog’. Or a ‘sausage dog’. Or a ‘hot dog’. Or a dog at all. He has big attitude, a big personality, and a big place in our family. As far as he’s concerned, he’s a ‘person with fur’. After all the things he’s been through with us over the past decade, I’d have to agree with him. He’s our Oscar.