It’s been a while since I’ve felt like blogging about Oz. We’ve had a year–with Oz’s epilepsy diagnosis, then his CCL tear/TPLO surgery. But a moment at the end of our hike today inspired me.
Oz and I have been through a lot in his three and a half years. We’ve worked through more fears than I sometimes feel like a living being should be allowed to have. We’ve been to more vet visits than I can count. More specialists than should be possible at the age of three. Had more tests performed, blood taken, consults done, fur shaved than that of the rest of the dogs in my house combined.
I thought maybe we were done after his CCL tear/TPLO. Maybe it was our last bump on the road. Then his chronic stomach issues worsened with too many bouts of bloody diarrhea. And after getting the call yesterday that his bloodwork indicates a small intestinal disease (and possibly large), I know we’re not quite done. That perhaps, we may never be.
When I picked Oz up at eight weeks, this was not the life I had envisioned for us. He’s smart as hell, amazingly talented, the sweetest soul, and a complete trooper. Life with just one of his ailments would be difficult and frustrating, let alone all of them. And yet, he never ceases to amaze me.
He’s learned to approach everything with this breathtaking optimism. He wags his tail at dogs he once wouldn’t have been able to handle being within in 100 yards of. He blindly trusts the many vets/specialists we’ve seen, continually reported as a “perfect patient” for every appointment he steps out of. He mentally recovers from seizures, anxiety attacks, and noise-induced shut downs better than I ever could. He’s learned how to even himself out, get back to his version of normal, even thrive in this world, no matter what is thrown his way.
Oz was not the dog I expected, but I’ve grown to see, we’re what we both needed.
Oz is my best teacher. I would never be the person, let alone the trainer, I am today without him. He’s changed my life in the best ways and I thank him for it every day.
I love him to pieces. He is my soul dog, my shadow, my once-in-a-lifetime best friend. I truly believe that we were meant to belong to one another. I don’t know what I would do without my best boy.
Which brings me back to this morning. As we were heading down the last incline on our hike, my foot hit a patch of loose rocks and gave out. I hit my knee smack against the rocky path. I cried out in searing pain. From at least 50 yards ahead, Oz came sprinting back to me as I sat hunched over my knee. He gently nosed my face, then snuggled into me, pressing his face against my chest and stretching his front leg across my stomach, paw curled around my side, quite literally hugging me, holding me. He sat with me like this for several minutes as I let the pain wear off, ignoring the chipmunks (who he loves so dearly) nearby. When I could finally release my knee and fully sit down, he lay down between my legs and gently rested his face against my hurt knee. He didn’t leave my side until I could stand again. Then together, we finished the trail back to the car.
I could feel his love, his empathy, so deeply in this moment. I could feel how everything we’ve been through has forged a bond so strong, I can’t quite put it into words.
Oz doesn’t deserve the health challenges and brain wiring he’s been dealt, but even in our most difficult moments, he’s never let them defeat him.
That’s not to say these past three and a half years haven’t been full of moments of heartbreak and tears—they have—but for my perfect little soul dog, I’d do it all over again.
To quote a favorite song, “so here’s to us, all the broken dreams, never came to pass…here’s to all we’ve loved, wasn’t meant to last…here’s to us.”
So my dear boy, here’s to whatever comes our way next. The next bump on our road. Here’s to us.