Oh Thursday July 16, 2015, we had to say goodbye to our dog, Oscar. A cocker spaniel, he’d been with me for 10 years. My husband joined us later, but they loved each other a lot.
I wrote a note on Facebook on July 18. Here is the note:
Do you remember when I picked you up for the first time? Well, you picked me, then you sat in my lap the whole way home, gazing up into my face with those beautiful brown eyes. I fell in love with you then.
Remember you slept in a box beside my bed that night, with me stretching my hand out into it in case you were lonely?
Remember, I named you because you were born in March and you were a little golden man?
When we went to the beach for the first time? I thought you’d never stop swimming and I’d have to pick you up in Holyhead. Every beach trip since. You shaking with excitement, losing it when we’d turn onto the strand road.
You shredded everything I owned. But that was just stuff.
Remember I had the mop out permanently for the first 9 months, while you learned to ask to go out.
When you ate Sara’s earrings and we “found” them up in Herbert Park? Least said about that, the better.
Just us two musketeers back then. The vet said to a student, “These two are particularly bonded.” And an old lady on Sandymount Strand said “Youse are a one-on-one. There’s only the two of yis in the house.” “How did you know?” I said. “Ah”, she smiled, “He talks to ya.”
Coming to gigs with me. Barking in the dressing room when you’d hear me onstage.
Doing interviews, and everyone quite rightly only wanting to talk about or photograph you.
Your first other dogs: Ollie, Jill, DJ. You adored them though they put you in your puppin’ place.
Remember the time someone thought there was an adult human snoring somewhere? That was you, that was.
Remember when walking around James’ Fort was too much for your short legs? Later, you could have gone around James’ Fort twice and it wouldn’t have been enough walking by half. Or crazy scamper circles.
That time something fell in the night and I was sure there was someone in the house. You charged ahead of me, barking your head off. You wouldn’t have let them near me. Luckily, they weren’t real.
Never once letting me do anything on the floor without shoving your nose into mine and licking my face off.
When you stood on a wasp and put on a performance worthy of an award – your namesake – fainting, the lot – that had me and the emergency vet fooled until she did all the tests. “He’s fine,” she said, “He just really, really didn’t like stepping on that wasp.”
All the wonderful people who minded you when I was away: Orlaith, Carrie, Aaron, Paula, Jim and Eimear, Foxy, Adrian from Petsitters, Uncle Keith and Auntie Trish. Sara and Stella. Deirdre and Diarmuid. John and Neil. Karen, Anthony, Brendan and Andrea. JJ. So many more. I was always a bit jealous of them until I got back.
Herbert Park pond, where you weren’t allowed in, but you wouldn’t come out.
Do you remember when we went on the ferry to London? And all of the trains? Remember how much you loved Ally Pally and Highgate Woods?
How the only time anyone talked to me on the Tube was when you were with me.
When I scalped you, shearing you at home myself in the kitchen in Muswell Hill. Out walking, people laughed so much I never did it again. You didn’t seem to mind, despite your vanity.
You were so handsome.
Coming on set with me if the AD, cast and crew said yes. Me running back to give you a stroll between set-ups.
Flying. On a plane! Home to Kinsale for Christmas. When the baggage handlers carried your crate through Arrivals you got a round of applause.
Remember when that new guy – Carl – arrived, and seemed to be staying, and you did a giant poo of protest in the living room. But then, point made, you decided he was the best thing since sliced bread.
If I listen very closely, I can hear you in the background of the songs I recorded at James’s house.
Every walk, every cuddle, every time you were scared of thunder, or protecting the house from evil packages coming through the letterbox.
Every curl on the back of your head. Every time you were sick. Every time we were, and you made us feel better.
Remember you were the annoying puppy, bounding up to older dogs, biting their ears, then later having no tolerance at all of pups who did it to you? It was the only time we ever saw you grumpy, Grumpy.
Boop kiss. Behind-ear scratches. “Oscar, why the long face?”
Edinburgh. Shifting more flyers than I ever did alone. Keeping me sane and forcing me out of bed no matter how low I was and up Arthur’s Seat every day so you could get your rabbit-spotting fix. You never caught a thing, but you gave it a good go.
Back to Ireland. Dog for Yes, Face of Poo (pick it up, people), still my first answer when I’m asked what I like to do in my spare time or what my prize “possession” is: hanging out with you. You.
Thinking that if you sat near low laying food, turned your head, and licked it out the side of your mouth that you somehow became invisible. We saw you.
The “stupid cat” arriving. Making you guard your food more jealously. But finally becoming friends. Everyone piling onto our bed in the morning. That was my favourite.
Please don’t remember the heartbreak of the end, that came so suddenly, that hurt so much. Us annoying you, holding you, pulling you closer at night, unable to sleep ourselves because sleep would bring a day without you closer. Don’t remember that.
I hope you remember the beach and the woods and bed and trying to steal chicken and loving carrots – carrots? – so much you’d whimper for one as I chopped. Remember that I hated going anywhere without you. How happy we all were when we got home and you did your curly tapdance at the door. Is that a sock? For me? Thank you. Chewing plastic bottles ‘cos you loved the crackly sound. Lying legs back like the Starship Enterprise in front of an open fire. Sitting under outside tables and making friends with everyone you saw.
That was some 10 years of craic and boldness and love and jesus: that flew.
We’re greedy. We want more…but we’d want more if we’d had 100 years.
I thought about our first night as you lay beside the bed this week, trying to get comfortable, and I stretched out my hand in case you were lonely.
You always looked to us to make things ok. We had to be brave enough to make things ok one last time. And it hurts. It hurts.
But I wouldn’t change a thing, beautiful buddy.
Good boy. Sleep well