My father’s dog Oscar, who helped him get through the two years and two months so far without Mom, was hit by a car last night. My initial thought is that I should be sad but still okay, because Osky had a good life if too short. At least Dad was able to say goodbye to him, and the little guy went as peacefully as he probably could have, for the kind of trauma something like this could cause. But in reality, I’m broken up about it. Perhaps it’s because I loved Osky. Not only was he an all-around fantastic dog, but he was there for Dad in a way I could not be, right after Mom died. Or maybe it’s because now that we have our own furry children, I’m not sure what I’ll do if and when we lose one of them. Or maybe it’s just the bizarre timing of the whole thing.

My brother gave Oscar to my parents about six months before Mom died. They didn’t want another dog, but Josh and Denae surprised them anyway with a happy golden retriever/lab mix, only this puppy had a bit of a boxer snout, and he was a puppy. The sweetest little guy you’d ever seen. And while neither Dad or Mom were initially thrilled about a 8-month old puppy to take care of, Osky turned into the greatest gift in the world when Mom died, with his joy and bouncing and furry face, and just the sweetest personality. He went everywhere with Dad, sleeping under his desk in the clinic office on the weekends, waiting patiently in the car after driving together into town to visit the bookstore and the bank and the hardware store, sleeping all stretched out across the back seat when he wasn’t allowed to come inside. Most of Dad’s regular patients had met Osky at least once, if not a dozen times, and Osky loved to kiss all the nurses at the office.

And now, a month before Dad gets married again, Osky’s gone. He was so clearly meant to help my dad through his grief, through the last two years and two months without Mom.

I really believe Osky saved Dad from losing his mind those first few months, and somehow managed to bring him crazy joy through the grieving process. And I see every day how happy Buddy and Nellie are when John and I come home, how they live their furry little doggy lives in anticipation of the garage door opening, bouncing like deer up and down the hallway, the way Osky did through the fields at home.

Osky, you were one of the best, and you will be dearly, dearly missed.

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