Crazy Oscar

This is the third in an informal series, The Vermont Animal Diaries, about the pets Kendra and I tended when we lived for a year in Vermont. Part One, Fat Stella, is here. Part Two, Dumb Andrew, is here.

Each of the pets left in our care had unique annoyances, but Oscar was the hands-down winner. Some kind of godforsaken rat-based terrier, Oscar was like a half-blind, crack-addicted, ADHD, jack rabbit on a speedball bender (to put it nicely).  Oscar would occasionally take time out of his busy schedule—digging in the couch, licking the baseboards, sniffing the corners of the rugs and blankets, rubbing the sides of his body against the kitchen trashcans, lifting his hind legs and tail and using his forepaws to drag his rear end across the carpet, begging to be taken outside so he could chase random birds, insects, and leaves in the yard, and leaving Christmas-tree dog-piles in the front entry—to do some really annoying junk.

For example, Oscar loved to watch television. At first, it seemed almost endearing…until we learned what was actually going on inside his odd little melon: He was stalking. Oscar watched television expectantly, in tense anticipation, waiting for any moment that an animal—any animal—would appear onscreen. Why? Well, so he could attack it, of course. Why else would anyone with any sense want to watch television? (It was a foolish question, and you should have known better than to ask it.) In the picture below, Oscar is actually attacking a video that features himself running around in the backyard.

Crazy OscarWe brought our own cat, Beatrix, with us when we moved to Vermont. When we first moved in and were still learning about Oscar, he took special delight in randomly leaping on Beatrix’s back and pinning her to the floor. (I imagine he was thinking simply, “New smell! New smell!”) Regardless, she was an only pet, unaccustomed to having to deal with such atrocious behavior, and understandably appalled. This was why we had no choice but to banish Oscar to the downstairs by applying a baby gate at the foot of the stairs—so that Beatrix (and honestly, the other cats, too) would have a safe haven where they could go for asylum.

I mentioned one of Oscar’s annoying habits was relieving himself on the wood floor in the front hall. In his defense, this was due mainly to the fact that often he would come to the foot of the stairs when the rest of us were upstairs, and whimper, lonely because nobody liked him. And it was difficult for us to discern his “Hey losers, feel sorry for me” whine from his, “Hey humans, I’ve got some waste on deck and could really use a visit to the little terrier’s room.” Our bad. However, even our disdain at taking him outside was his own fault. He wasn’t a normal dog, one you could just let out, he’d do his business, and then come back in. No, you had to go out with him and keep him focused and on task, or he’d forget why he was outside, run off, and get lost.

To his credit, Oscar was really fun to play with, at least for me (a dog person at heart). He had this Nylabone frisbee that he’d chase, literally as long as you’d throw it. Kendra even enjoyed throwing snowballs for him, because he’d dig and dig and dig in the deep snow, frantically looking for each snowball where it landed.

After his owners came back and we returned home, we spoke to them a few months later on the phone, and they remarked how odd it was that he refused to go upstairs anymore. “Do you know what that’s about?” one of them asked.

“Hm,” I said. “That’s really strange. No, no idea.”

Are you a dog person or a cat person? If you gravitate toward one or the other, why? What’s the craziest behavior you’ve ever witnessed in a pet? Does anybody else think the word “Nylabone” is as funny as I do?

2 Responses to “Crazy Oscar”

  1. Scotti October 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    The best thing I remember about Oscar was when Stacy and I would flip the rain stick. Wow, that would make him go bonkers!

    • Brannon October 29, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

      Yeah, I wanted to include something about the rain stick, but this one was already going kind of long. I actually miss that psycho puppy.

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