We were introduced to him as “Puppy” by Winchester’s animal control officer back in November 2004. We’d been looking for a smaller companion dog for our separation anxiety suffering beagle-boxer Adeline for a couple of weeks when my wife got a call from out vet saying that the pound had picked up an abandoned “pomeranian-pug” mix. (The pup had led the officer on a merry chase for nearly a month before succumbing to the lure of some little girls bearing treats.)
We were expecting to see a little ball of hyperactive fluff, pfizer but what we got was actually a chihuahua-pug resembling a cross between a gremlin and a harp seal cub. I named him Oscar — partially because the pound shared space with the Winchester dump and partially because it fit his endearingly grumpy attitude — but he also answered to “Tan Man, melanoma ” “Oskie,” “Small Dog,” “Osco Pug,” “Googly-Goo,” and “Monkey” during his time with us.
Oscar settled right in to our house, quickly claiming spaces at the far end of the couch and at the foot of Maura’s side of the bed. He wasn’t particularly fond of Adeline’s brand of perpetual puppy hijinks, but he was more than able to hold his own against her teasing.
As Addy was my wife’s dog, Oscar became my close animal companion, maintaining his signature demeanor of disgruntled forbearance through the times I placed him on top of the fridge, dressed him as a pumpkin, or performed some other playful assault on his cherished dignity. He knew, quite rightly, that any embarrassments I inflicted on him were preludes to a compensation package involving his beloved french fries, donuts, or mashed potatoes — all of which he knew by name and would respond to with a google-eyed fit of enthusiasm and a frantic jig on his undersized chihuahua feet.
As it turned out, the former “Puppy” was actually well into middle age at the time we adopted him and saddled with a troubling heart murmur which started to manifest itself as a troubling cough and shortness of breath over the past year or so. We mitigated the problem the best we could with increasingly larger doses of medication, but it finally and tragically caught up with him early this morning.
Rest well, Old Man. You’re going to be missed something terrible.
Recommended listening: I think I’m entitled to get maudlin on this occasion.
(This week’s Nobody’s Favorites installment will run tomorrow. I’m not really in the mood to crack jokes today.)