I wanted a dog my entire life. Granted I knew nothing about how to care for one, the cost, walks in the cold, snow, rain, emergency appointments when grape or raisin was scooped off the floor but it didn’t matter. The thought of having one was a dream.
Autism and dogs was an enticing match. I read about how dogs could be soothing and an ideal companion for one on the spectrum. In thinking about Sawyer who at age 4 was a peaceful love bug, with a passion for those around him led me to think that this was an avenue to take someday.
It was just a thought. A conversation between my wife Kellie and myself. I never thought in a million years that this would be a reality. However, the universe had other plans. It’s almost like the 7 year pug fell out of the sky.
In conversation with a family friend, they knew of someone who was relocating to the west coast and their pug, Oscar would need a home. It was divine intervention.
We went to meet Oscar and we fell in love with him immediately. His snorting and temperament just was impossible to not be hooked. Sawyer in particular held his leash and put his head on Oscar’s head and just snuggled in. It was a natural fit.
Two weeks later on a sunny July day, Oscar’s owner pulled into the driveway with his drivers side window open and Oscar’s tongue wagging out. This was the true beginning of a beautiful relationship.
The instructions were simple. Walk him in the morning, walk him in the afternoon. Food in the morning and food in the afternoon. Keep up yo date with his shots, get his nails clipped, and just love him.
That’s exactly what we did for nearly 8 years. Sawyer was the most frequent Oscar walking buddy along my side. He often would pet him out of nowhere and find joy in him being around.
That was the early days and as Sawyer got older, he loved Oscar but Oscar was my guy. I dedicated my life in caring for him and with that care came sacrifice.
The last year brought a full loss of hearing, deteriorating sight and accidents galore in the house. When a pet ages, it is almost like you want to put a force field around them and fight anyone or anything that recognizes the decline.
With the decline led Sawyer to often ask when Oscar would die? Sawyer has a strong fixation about death and what it means and where do you go? Whenever Oscar limped, sneezed, or had an accident, Sawyer thought it was the end. Imagine a year of those conversations.
Days ago,Oscar’s time had ended. As broken hearted I was, I didn’t know how the reaction of the family would truly be? I knew sadness but I had zero degree of what that meant.
When I came home to share the news, Sawyer said he thought he was going to cry. He very rarely does. He came in for a hug and had a lot of tears, often saying how much he would miss him. Granted it took a lot of conversation about him being put to sleep and the reasons why. Trust me, Sawyer was scared that he would fall asleep and not wake up. That’s how he interpreted it.
The last few days have left me shattered. I never thought an element of Autism would have brought a family pet into existence. Without Oscar, life will be not the same. It goes on but with a hole in our hearts. Without Autism, there would have been no Oscar.
Sawyer might never know but his challenges brought an element of joy that was unmatched. Yes, heartache today but a happiness that will be treasured for a lifetime.