Sweet Oscar has been with us for 3 months now. He has, despite the claim of the shelter that wanted to euthanize him, proven himself to be highly adoptable. He’s great. But he has lots of baggage—baggage that we can only guess at, given he came to us with no history that we could know. He was abandoned and either lived on the street for a while or was tied up right away in front of a shelter. We don’t know. We don’t know how old he is, who he lived with, why they let him go, what happened in his life, or even what name he had for the first many years of his life. We know nothing except that we love him and he’s a very complicated little dog. But we can put together potential pieces of his story.
We know he is terrified of being left alone, and that one has a pretty clear explanation—sweet little dog was literally abandoned. He hates if he can’t see us. He will wait directly outside of the bathroom door for me (or bash the door open if he can). He will jump over our baby gates (used to keep the elderly ones from going into rooms on the main floor and pottying) to follow us. He is only now, three months in, beginning to trust that we will come back into a room and give us a minute or two before he comes to look for us.
He spends all day curled up in a chair in Matthew’s office. He is lucky that Matthew works from home and can be with him all day. Oscar is very dedicated to his job, spending all day in that office even if Callum and I are also home. If he comes up to my office on the weekend and barks at me for attention, and if I’m busy working, all I have to do is tell him to go to work and he runs down 30+ stairs to Matthew’s office. He doesn’t yet respond to his name, but he knows the command “go to work.”
He still sometimes has accidents. He loves to jump on all the tables and desks and has consumed many sips of coffee. He would love for Edward and Billy to play with him, and tugs at their ears to try to start something, but they are weeks away from their 14 birthdays and not really into playing anymore. He’s scared of going in the car, so I try to take him for short errands to help him understand that no one is going to take him somewhere and leave him. Like all the other dachshunds, he loves snuggling my mother. He loves his food, though he’s still not putting on weight, despite our best efforts. His little tail wags almost all day long.
The only real problem we have with Oscar, which is not exactly a problem, but is concerning, is that he is extremely protective of me. He hates it when Matthew and I touch each other—so if we hug or cuddle up, he gets mad. Edward does the same thing, though that’s because Edward is in love with me and can’t stand seeing the Human Husband getting near me. Oscar really loses it at night. Take last night, for example. While I showered, Matthew had Oscar on the bed and was playing with him. He had him flipped on his back and was wiggling him around and having fun. Oscar loved it.
Then I got in the bed. A switch flipped and Oscar HATED Matthew. His little lip started to curl. He started to growl. He started to bark. This is every night. Every single night, Oscar feels he has to protect me from Matthew. He will literally attack him to keep him away from me. Thank goodness he has no teeth. The worst is in the middle of the night. Matthew usually wraps up working around midnight and then comes to collect the dogs for late-night potty. Oscar LOSES it. He not only attacks him, but he will chase Matthew all the way downstairs. Again, he is 8 pounds, tiny, and toothless, so we’re not particularly scared of this fearsome display, but we are sad for him. As far as we can guess, it seems like at some point in his life, he felt he had to protect someone, probably a woman. He felt threatened by a man. He still feels the need to protect me. We spend a ton of time showing him that he’s safe, that Matthew and I would never hurt each other, that no one would ever, EVER hurt him. But still, every night, I have to wake up to get him out of bed to go outside. He is fine with me grabbing him and moving him. Outside of the day he got all his first shots, he has never once snarled or growled at me. But he does daily with Matthew, who during the daytime hours, is his very best pal.
I’m conflicted: I wish we knew his past, because it would help us help him. But, at the same time, I am so glad I don’t know the details. We’re helping him rewrite his story, but it’s slow going. Despite whatever he’s been through, he is still so full of love. He seems happy to have dog brothers, a loving family, and plenty of attention. He’s in an entirely new situation, but his past never appears to be very far from his mind. Whenever he freaks out, we just remind ourselves that he has seen some shit. He has his reasons for lashing out, for distrusting, for being fearful. I wish we had been the ones to have him all along. But he found his way here, finally. And maybe, just maybe, some night Matthew will be able to get Oscar up without fleeing down the stairs as a toothless tiny dog races after him, screaming at him to get away from his mommy.