Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What’s In A Name?

Every week I have the disgusting task of putting gel on my geriatric dog’s teeth, well, the ones he has left, to prevent tooth decay.  Oscar Moe Moe is my 11 year-old Basset Hound, (or Bastard Hound, as my cousin Beth has dubbed the breed).  The dog recently re-entered my life after his litter-mate and life partner, Madison passed away in October.  When my ex-husband and I divorced, Oscar and Madison stayed with him, happily cavorting and rebel-rousing in my former gi-normous backyard. (The dogs, not the ex-husband, at least not to my knowledge). Thus, to our son Wesley, the hounds became known as his “Dogs at Daddy’s.” 

When Madison passed, confusion immediately ensued with regard to his true identity.  Wesley and his Dad kept calling the deceased dog “Oscar,” but described him as the dog I remembered to be Madison.  I shrugged it off as my mistake, given that I had been absent for six years from the lives of the creatures great and small that inhabited my previous backyard.

Even though two dogs* already resided at my now humble domicile (with petit backyard), I couldn’t abide the thought of Madison being alone after 10 plus years with his BFF.  I went to get Madison, and, much to my astonishment, I found Oscar. More confusion ensued. Wesley was grieving the loss of “Oscar,” and I was calling the dog I brought home with me “Oscar.”  Every time I did, Wesley would break down into tears.  The house was absolutely chaotic with three dogs in a state of adjustment-one of whom did not know his own name, Wesley sobbing at least six times a day, and the unbearable stench of Unnamed Dog’s bad breath. 

I took the Hound Formerly known as Madison to the vet to find out what had turned rancid inside his mouth.  After hearing my rambling report of the “Dog Name Debacle,” the vet became confused, thinking he had put down the Hound Formerly Known as Oscar two weeks prior.  Unnamed Dog was given a thorough physical, obviously complete with DNA testing, because the costs ran upwards of a grand.  With 98.6667% accuracy, I was told that Unnamed Dog was, in fact, Oscar.  The vet techs then had electronically resurrect Oscar in the computer system. 

Once identified I was told that New Oscar, formerly Unnamed Dog, had to undergo surgery to remove several cysts from his skin. (Basset’s are genetically pre-dispositioned for these expensive, dermatological pustules and my account with Sona MedSpa was useless in this matter.)  Additionally, I was informed that five of his rotten teeth had to be removed as they were the probable source of his chronic halitosis.  Suddenly it occurred to me that it may have been less expensive to buy a house with a bigger backyard than it was going to be to rectify New Oscar’s post-traumatic dental-dermatological issues. Nonetheless, I proceeded.

During his pre-op visit, Oscar exhibited signs of elimination shyness, and would not give a urine sample.  So, at on the morning before the surgery, there I stood, plastic cup in my left hand, a Mag-Lite in my right hand, sporting pink sock monkey pajamas and squinting.  Without going into any further detail, let’s just say we were successful.  I went inside, washed my hands thoroughly, and waited for the vet’s office to open so that I could deliver the “goods” and the canine producer of the “goods” for surgery. Thankfully, the procedure was also successful and after a night of post-op monitoring due to his maturation, New Oscar came home with much nicer breath. After such an ordeal, certainly, he now merited a name that he recognized, AND one that could keep my nine-year-old tear-free.  

I called a family meeting to try and reach consensus on the Formerly Unnamed Dog’s moniker.  Despite the DNA results for which I had paid handsomely, the four of us agreed to memorialize both Basset Hounds, by re-naming the Formerly Unnamed Dog, “MO,” short for Madison/Oscar.  Granted, Moe was now known to his medical provider as “Oscar,” but I was too exhausted to explain that they would need to virtually eliminate New Oscar and revive the Hound Formerly Known as Madison.  I just let that one go.  Besides, Moe now had a cabinet full of prescription meds, all in the name of “Oscar Boles.”  So, he is now known casually as Moe Moe, or more formally, as Oscar “Moe Moe” Boles.   

He can be an ungrateful Basset-ard, bullying Stafford, our English Bulldog, at every opportunity.  Moe Moe howls when Stafford approaches his food bowl, steals ANY toy Staffy or Milli chooses for play, and growls when Staffords’ normal movements threaten to rouse him from his marathon siestas, which generally last between 10 and 12 hours.

His bladder continues to be sensitive; so on those rare occasions when he engages in physical activity, he dribbles, like a urinary GPS tracking his every move.  He has to have daily eye drops because his body is so old that his tear production has ground to a halt and  he sometimes wanders aimlessly during the night; toenails clicking on the tile, in some kind of doggie sun downers haze. 

As if that weren’t enough torment, his fur is thinning and his hair permeates the air.  Some days, walking into my house is like traveling to the Texas panhandle during the 1930’s and experiencing the Black Blizzard.  On the table in the foyer we now keep bandannas, respirators and masks designed to filter out small particulates.  (These devices also come in handy with Stafford’s frequent, noxious flatulence; apparently a result of the short digestive track the English Bulldog breed is privy.)

I must admit, however, that I am in love with Oscar Moe Moe, despite his expensive upkeep, bad disposition, and slug-like secretions. Like a rock star and her canis familiaris stalker (if the stalker had incontinence issues), Moe greets me with all the vigor his senior body can muster when I come through the front door.  He follows me from room to room, laying at my feet until I move to another room.  He lays on the bedroom rug when I sleep, the bathroom rug when I shower, and the kitchen rug when I cook…okay, so he never lays on the kitchen rug…but if I did cook, he would be there.  In those aged, red, and irritated eyes, I see unconditional love, the vastness of which certainly can’t be encompassed by just one name.

*Lord Stafford Hall Grant and Milli Vanilli Hughes Boles deserve their own blogs, which I am sure will be forthcoming.

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