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Poor Oscar’s kidneys are failing, and he must go on a protein-poor diet so that nitrogen does not build up in his blood and cause him to go senile and feel crappy all the time. Because the commercial kidney health food is so expensive (ridiculous, because you’re paying a lot for no protein…) my mom supplements with a homemade mix of white rice, carrots, and broccoli. Oscar eats the broccoli first, then the rice/wet food mush mix, then the carrots, which he eats off of the floor after he’s removed them from his dish to get at the good stuff.

This was all quite hilarious to me- my family seems to raise dogs that love vegetables and fruit- Oscar loves oranges and apples, Indy loves bananas, they both love broccoli, Inka loves peas and beans and zucchini.

Still excited... weirdo dog.

Oscar’s diet abruptly became un-funny when we played frisbee in the park on Christmas day and his legs collapsed under him at every landing or abrupt change in direction- his muscles atrophied by lack of proper protein… and age, I suppose.  Though bad, the diet is not as extreme as it could be- it’s a compromise between weakness and senility and he’s losing brain function bit by bit as well.   Apparently he will stare blankly at trees in the backyard or wake up from naps scared, not knowing where he is.

This makes sense, but it was still shocking, considering Oscar’s past as a legendary frisbee star. At his prime he could leap to shoulder height to catch the disc, even though he weighs 50 pounds. On the beach my dad and I once measured the distance between his footprints at take off and landing- he had covered a good 25 feet. He could read a disc better than anyone I’ve ever met, except maybe Chris Rupp.  I was always hoping that playing fetch with Oscar would improve my game, but he never revealed the secrets of his mad skillz.  He also loves frisbee so much that, unlike other dogs that mark their territory every 10 feet, he will not pee until we are done playing and are leaving the park- he doesn’t want to miss any tosses, no matter how short or crappy.  When we’ve convinced him we’re leaving, he will, frisbee still in mouth, finally take a humongous piss and get back in the car.

An easy grab

Locked on and ready to launch

Look at that extension!!

Oscar only ever accompanied us on one backpacking trip, though he would definitely still enjoy an easy hike.  David and I took him and Emma (David’s golden lab) to the Sawtooth range in Idaho one summer.  He disappeared after about 45 minutes of hiking, running after some critter into the woods.  We searched for him for hours, until night fell and we decided to camp and keep looking in the morning.  I woke up sobbing, thinking about how i would have to tell my family that i lost our dog.  We hiked back to the car to get sunglasses (it was very snowy) and then were going head back out to see if he had joined another group of hikers- Oscar loves and belongs to anyone who will love him back and was probably just as content with them as he would be with us.  As David crossed the stream just before the trail head, Oscar scrambled out from under the Subaru where it seemed he had spent the night.  We were mutually overjoyed to see each other, though David kept threatening to strangle him for running off.  He still had his little doggie pack on, and right away i unzipped it to pull out the dinner and breakfast portions he had missed.  He was astonished.  “Wait- i’ve been carrying my own food this whole time?!  Well shit.”  He stayed with us for the rest of the trip.

It's funny because his ears are normally floppy, but are being blown up by the wind. No one really finds this as hilarious as I do.

Here David explains our backpacking route to Oscar, who looks quite surprised by its boldness. (Its funny, because Oscar's ears are normally floppy but are being blown up by the wind here. No one finds this quite as hilarious as I do.)

Another time, while accompanying me on my paper route in high school, he disappeared and when it came time to drive back home he reappeared carrying a big stinky stick in his mouth.  He wouldn’t put it down to get in the car, so i drove slowly and he ran alongside the car with the thing clenched in his teeth.  As he came up the driveway, i realized it was an arm, severed at the shoulder and wrist, with muscles but no skin.  My outburst of disgust caused him to drop it and i ran inside and woke up my dad.  He convinced me it was from a deer or a pig or something…

Despite the occasional disobedience employed to eat disgusting things, Oscar is a fantastic dog and has caused me to fall in love with Austrailian shepherds as a breed.  Indoors, they only wanted to be petted and sit next to you, lean on you, snuggle up – earning a few aussies i know the nickname “Velcro dog”.  Outside, they only want to work for you- catching frisbees, running agility, herding ducks (what?).  They’re amazing.

Sigh… poor Oscar.

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