In my life I have been blessed with the companionship of many dogs. One was a nasty little black cocker spanial named Oscar. My sister had rescued Oscar from the apartment of a former friend who had left the dog alone in her apartment for a few days whille she was out of town. Actually somebody who knew the “Friend” called my sister, and basically she stole the dog. Then of course she needed to park the poor animal, and as I owned a house with a fenced in yard, I was elected. Oscar was not friendly. He especially dislike men and would often bark at my shoes. I think he may have been kicked by a former owner. I tried every form of kindness to win Oscar over, and eventually we sort of formed a mutual respect, although he was hardly affectionate. One afternoon, Oscar was playing in the yard with my 3 year old nephew. He did have a fondness for little kids. Suddenly a very large doberman that lived several blocks over scaled the fence. I saw this happen and headed for the yard. This dog often roamed loose, terrorizing humans, dogs and cats. His owner said he would jump or burrow under his fence.

Oscar, who couldn’t have wighed more than 20 lbs. immediately placed himself between my nephew and the Doberman. The Doberman grabbed Oscar and flung him in the air. Oscar immediately attacked the dog which must have weighed 85 lbs. I grabbed a garbage can cover and a rake and beat the dog until he ran. I gathered up Oscar who had a tear in his muzzle and his ear and whisked him off to the town animal shelter which is next door to the Bide-A-Wee Home in Wantagh. The techs there gave him a sedative,cleaned him up and bandaged his wounds. I took him home and fed him soup. I didn’t know what to do other than call the Police. The desk officer really went through the motions and took my phone report. He said there was really nothing that could be done. Later a tech from Bide-A-Wee called just to follow up. I told him the dog was asleep and related the story with the Police report. About two hours later another Police Officer called. He was a friend of the tech and asked me to come down and fill out a complaint form and specify there was an attack on a human.

Then two or three days later the dog’s owner came over to my house. The Police and Town Animal Warden took his dog. He had to either build a six foot fence with a dog proof lock, or lose the dog. He wanted me to recant my complaint. I told him I was going to shoot his dog if ever I saw it loose again. Never heard from him or saw the dog again.
Meanwhile Oscar lived another six years. I don’t know that we were ever your classic man/dog relationship, but I took care of him and treated him with the respect he earned that day.
When he developed a skin condition, the Vetenarian told me it was not really treatable and the dog was starting down a long slope of discomfort that would eventually cause him a lot of pain. He regretfully advise euthanasia. I paid the fee, gave him his last treat and left. I cried like a child that night. I told my sister, who told my mother. She was adamant in that I did the right thing. The dog was sort of a partner. He watched my back as it were and it was my responsibility he not suffer pain and indignity because of my failure to act. I cried all the way through Mark’s book.

I envied him the love he shared with Sprite. I knew this with other dogs. But I also think he did the right thing by his friend. A friend of mine once told me dogs were angels. They were a means to give us just a small taste of pure love, the kind of love God has for us, and to promise us that anything else would pale in comparison. I have to agree. I have never had another dog, my lifestyle really doesn’t allow it. However my brother and nephew both have dogs, my nephew also has cats as does my sister. I am their favorite uncle and travel with a pouch of cat traets and milk bones often just to get a taste of that love. Thank you Mark, I know how difficult your decision was and how painful it must be to relive the experience over and over.
Thanks for the book,
Joe from NY