So, as we were loathe to announce before, we had a death in the family that was really quite heartbreaking. Our 17 year-old dog, Ozzie had to be put to sleep early in the morning of the 16th due to complications from age. It was a heart wrenching decision, but after events that transpired during the night and early morning, our family made the conscious decision that Ozzie deserved to be at peace and in the condition he was in, that wasn’t going to happen. His age had caught up with him and life just didn’t seem worth living anymore.
My father woke me at about 6:30 in the morning, very upset but asking me to help him get Ozzie cleaned up. We gave him a bath and as dad cleaned himself up, I blew dry Ozzie’s fur until it shone. Ozzie, for one reason or another, really enjoyed having his fur blown-dry, I don’t know if it’s because it reminded him of laying outside on a warm, breezy day or it just felt good to have warm air blown on him in general. I was happy to provide him a few more minutes of any kind of joy and sat with him until dad had gotten himself ready. By then my mom had gotten up for work and we all sat with Ozzie for a while, giving him cookies and stroking his face. Letting him know, that even though the last few months have been hard on us, we loved him very much. It seemed like forever before dad was able to call the vet to let them know we needed to have him put to sleep, which I know I wouldn’t have been able to handle telling them, as I was already overwhelmed with the thought of losing Ozzie forever.
Unfortunately, I was too cowardly to go with my parents to the vet to say goodbye, so I said my goodbyes to Ozzie when they were getting ready to go. I kissed his nose and stroked his ears and let him know how much he meant to me. And for the first time in months, he looked at me with eyes that didn’t seem to be clouded in old age and confusion. He gave me a look I haven’t gotten from him in such a long time. I don’t know if that made it more difficult or I was already so overwhelmed by it all that it didn’t matter. In any case, it was nice to see the real him for the first time in a long time.
It’s been so long since Ozzie joined our family that I don’t really remember the day, but I do remember he was an adorable puppy (That might be enough to get me to look for the photos to prove it). The pet store clerk knew for sure that his mother was a purebred Austrailian Shepard who had the papers to prove it, but apparently had a one night stand with something else. We think maybe a Pit Bull, which would explain his intensity in protecting us. In general though, he was a mellow dog that loved his family and really loved babies. He was the best guard dog you could have asked for.
Ozzie was also very strong when he got older. I distinctly remember a time when I thought I could walk him by myself… Mom often told me to wait for her to take him on walks, but I thought I was a big girl and could do it myself– Surprise, no I couldn’t. That day my luck ran out and my nose was never the same for months. In fact, I was coined (by my idiotic elementary gym teacher) Rudolph because I had a large red scab on the end of my nose for a very long time. That was my fault, not Ozzie’s, but it’s definitely a memory I’ll have forever. As you can see it didn’t really affect our relationship– or anyone’s relationship with him:
It wasn’t until I found these photos that I realized how much he had changed over the years. The last few in particular when his muzzle began to gray and the things he used to love didn’t interest him anymore. Tennis balls and bones and cookies, capture the treasure and running with Yuri. None of these things had made him excited in such a long time and I realized how easily I had forgotten. Seeing these photos reminded me of his exuberance and how much I miss that.
Something Ozzie loved well into his twilight years was sunbathing. I know, sounds like a little old woman, but it’s true. If the door was open during the summer and it was sunny, you could bet hard money he was sitting in the sunlight taking it in. Every other dog I’ve met has always looked for shade during sunny days, but he loved it. If he was outside, he was sitting in the only pool of sunlight our big tree let through:
Ozzie gave his all in taking care of us, even in defending us against his evil arch-nemesis:
Not just any squirrel– THE Squirrel. Many a day when we were outside, the squirrel, angry with humanity for some reason, would throw bits of its nest at anything that was moving. The dogs, people, anything. It was would chitter madly and wait for Ozzie to dare challenge its rule. Which he did. Often.
And The Squirrel, never came down from the tree to pick up the glove Ozzie threw down for him. Victory comes to those who are awesome.
Victory can also come when the humans aren’t home, as Ozzie found several times through the garbage, a box of fudge we had brought home from my grandmother (we discovered he didn’t like peanut butter fudge that day) or the 4 boxes of Peanut Brittle and 2.5 boxes of chocolate daisy mints from Girl Scout days… How he didn’t die of some sort of chocolate induced overdose, I will never know, but he was a sly one. I only wish I could find the photo of him stuck, head first in a Purina cookie box– he was smart enough to eat through the bottom to try and find a way out but was sadly foiled by the size of his head.
In his whole life, I don’t think Ozzie ever stopped being a great dog. I regret that in his last few months, my frustrations with his frailties got the best of me every once in a while. Being woken in the wee hours of the morning for seemingly no reason and a sudden forgetfulness of the last use of the backyard and general issues frustrated me often. At the very least it has taught me that I have to keep that in check when Yuri and Faith become frail as well. I loved him dearly and I can only hope that he is in a better place, young and beautiful again, chasing The Squirrel and finding the very best Ol’ Roys.
Much love, Ozzie. Rest now and we’ll see you again.
Jaina & Faith