The Play Meister

death pet dog grief

Oscar was The Play Meister. He could entice any dog to play with him; if not fur-to-fur then he would steal their ball and make them chase him. He would dart this way-and-that, with the biggest smile on his ball filled face.

We had two years together and He was the cheapest therapy I have ever invested in.

I was 37 when I accepted the possible reality that I was not going to have children. I had been socially infertile for 5 years. I hit a point in my life where I wanted there to be more than me in the world; I wanted someone else to consider, to care about. I decided to get a dog. I went to have a Shiatsu and the Shiatsu therapist told me of her friends 9month old Shih Tzu who needed rehoming. That to me seemed like a sign. I would say I went for a Shiatsu and got a Shih Tzu! Or a Shit-poo if you use his designer label as he was part poodle!

I went to meet him and my resistance to loving him was there from the beginning. I felt a bit numb! I was grateful a girlfriend had come with me. My first glimpse of him was through the glass sliding back door- he was outside with their other dog. He looked timid and sad. The previous owners reassured me that he was house trained etc. they just didn’t have anytime to walk him or attend to him. They let him in to meet me and immediately he lifted his leg on their lounge. (My friend would later describe this as Oscars ‘Fuck you” moment to his previous owners for keeping him outside and neglecting him.) As I said I was a bit numb about it all but agreed to take him home on a one week trial.

The first night he was understandably freaked out… as was I. He would stare at me in terror trying to comprehend this strange woman who stood at a distance. All I could feel was neediness and it made me want to run.

We got through the first week. The following Saturday I took him with me to a friend’s house in Fitzroy. She also had a dog and we left them in her yard and went to have a beer. An hour later a few of our group went back to the house and Oscar slipped out through the open door. My friend who witnessed it said he ran in front of a car and he was so fast it was like he turned to liquid, dematerialised; and was gone. I was 10 minutes behind him in my search. I felt sick! I had recently put a tag on him with my number on it and hoped that this would count for something. One friend walking with me suggested I call his name. This felt strange; to me; we barely knew each other, I didn’t feel the connection.

It was 9pm on a Saturday night. This was a social part of town. There were lots of cars around. I walked down to the major arterial road. It was at this point I resigned myself that I was looking for a body. This is when my phone rang. Now I felt really sick.

Someone had found him and rung my number. He was alive. For those of you who know Fitzroy will understand when I say he managed to cross Johnson St, Brunswick St and Alexander Parade. For those who don’t, Alexander Parade on its own is a 10 lane major Arterial! He was heading home. His survival a miracle!

I went to pick him up. I hugged him and put him on the lead and we walked in silence as I tried to digest my feelings. We stopped on a bench and I said to him:

That was a fluke that I found you. I cant find you if you run away. We are stuck together till one of us dies. That’s just the way it is.

That was it; my commitment voiced and the beginning of letting Oscar in. All my barriers disguised as rules, slowly unravelled. He just wanted to love me and at some point I couldn’t resist him any longer.

Oscar was my substitute baby. I would take him to markets tucked up in a baby sling, occasionally scaring an unsuspecting baby watcher. He had a fake silver lame cape that he wore when we had parties that transformed his timid self into a social butterfly, party animal. Oscar soothed me through break-up and warded off depression. He transformed my inner life as well as my outer one.

Eighteen months after Oscar came into my life I met a man who had a son called Oscar. We feel into each other. I felt Oscar’s displacement, but knew in time we would all find our ground.

One day I was at work and I got a phone call from my housemate. She had been taking Oscar (Little O) for a walk and she was just about to put him on the leash when he stepped into the gutter. He got side swiped by a car. My housemate said she had enough time to say we love you and He was gone. I am grateful that she was there to herald him out. There wasn’t a mark on him.

Those who had loved him gathered at my house in disbelief The Play Meister was no more ‘Come sunset we buried him in the park.

I was two weeks pregnant.

Oscar taught me so much about love. He showed me where my barriers were and loved me through them anyway. I often muse that his job with me was done, he had opened me to love.

Oscar is a significant part of our family mythology. Whenever we visit his park, we go to His grave and say hello; my two girls would not let it be any other way.

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