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Happy 10th birthday, Ozzie

I don’t know his actual birth date, but all my pets get the stat holiday closest to their age. Ozzie’s stat birthday is Canada Day.The first year and a half of Ozzie’s life is a bit of a mystery to me. I was able to trace his tattoo, but no previous owners would speak to me. Maybe they thought I wanted to give him back lol.

Ozzie has an entire chapter of a book of “bad dog” things…
Such as stealing the roast out of the slow cooker while I was gone to pick up the company and then spewing diarrhea all over the living room carpet. I used to keep treats in the bathroom (best place to teach new tricks) but Ozzie opened the bathroom door, went in, turned around and his happy tail closed the door. So he ate all the treats (destroying that particular treat pouch) and then attempted to eat his way through the bathroom door. Twice. Both bathrooms. I’m not a quick study. He once lifted his leg and peed on a client (actually, there is an entire chapter regarding his urinating moments). Ozzie can bring down a deer; he can catch, skin, eat a bunny in a blink of an eye. Ozzie really doesn’t need a home to provide him meals, so I’m honoured he stays with me.

Ozzie has an entire book of “good dog” things….
Because of his hunting abilities it seemed appropriate to get his Canine Good Citizen certification. That was not an easy task! In his previous lives Ozzie had learned (been taught) how to pull on leash, how to ignore the sound of my voice when distractions were present, how to escape any enclosure. Two years to train him!! Ozzie taught me what frustration in dog training is all about, so when you tell me your frustrations with your dog I can nod knowingly and with empathy.
After Ozzie got his CGN certification I thought it would be a good idea to get his St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog certificate. It took two tries, but he got it. Ozzie has logged hundreds and hundreds of hours as a Therapy Dog. That’s not including the thousands of hours he has spent allowing me to sob into his shoulder and the hours he has spent pulling me out of the depths of despair. I am alive because of Ozzie. He stepped out in front of me in a parking lot when I mindlessly went to walk in front of a moving car. He broke out of the house and put himself between me and an attacking dog. I followed him back to my car when I was hopelessly lost in the trails (“are you hungry Ozzie, where’s the car, let’s go for a car ride”). Ozzie is a good dog.

Many of you know Ozzie from classes. He hangs out with the person with the best treats. He is our “real life distraction” in classes. He has met a few thousand dogs over the years. Many he has taught how to play. Others he has taught how to hold onto a resource without conflict. One viciously attacked and hospitalized him and to this day he is still very, very insecure around dogs that look like that one. Ozzie is semi-retired now; he no longer has much interest in Puppy Classes, and he is bored with the Well Mannered Dog class demos. His confidence was shattered with all reactive dogs for a couple of years after the attack, so he no longer helps me with aggressive dogs unless there is a 6 foot fence between him and the dog (there was a fence between him and the dog that attacked him, but the owner didn’t do as I asked and the attack happened through the fence; the fencing has since been changed to prevent that ever happening again).
I don’t know how much longer Ozzie and I have together. None of us know how long we get to have with our furry companions. He’s in good shape. He can still run the trails although he get tired more quickly now, but he hasn’t slowed down! The grey fur is moving in, an occasional lump and bump appears and the vet assures my panicked self that all is okay. His gait is strong with no signs of arthritis. His teeth are wearing down, but gums are in good shape and minimal plaque only on the very back teeth which will be cleaned soon. Our job is to care for our dogs with the dedication that they care for us with. I know that the day is closer now; that terrible heartbreaking day when I will sob into his shoulder one last time. But until then (hopefully years and years from now), I am grateful to my Ozzie and all that he is.

Ozzie reminds me every day that unconditional love exists. Thank you Ozzie, you are a good dog. Happy Birthday my friend. Yes, you will get ice cream later.

He collapsed on January 7th, 2019.  Here is my facebook posting:

It is with a very very heavy heart that I tell you that I had to say goodbye to my Ozzie last night. A sudden collapse due to a ruptured tumor on his liver…none of us had any idea that he had cancer.
Ozzie met thousands of dogs and people during his 8 years with me. Please share your Ozzie moments in the comments. He touched so many people, helped so many dogs, was a steady presence in class and the best at the slow motion demonstrations.
I’m reposting his tribute from his 10th birthday last summer. We didn’t have time for ice cream yesterday, give your dog a lick of ice cream from Ozzie.
Many thanks to Van Isle Vet for allowing us through your door right at closing time on a Sunday, he wouldn’t have survived the trip to Nanaimo and you helped ease his pain with compassion and understanding.
…with a broken heart, ~Jane


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