Two weeks ago, I wrote about my disabled neighbor’s amazing seizure alert dog, Oscar de la Rascal. It was his 15th birthday and Colleen, his mom, threw a great party. That was Saturday. Under “life is precarious,” on Monday, Oscar collapsed in front of the building. It was discovered that he had cancer so severe that, this past Monday, he had to be put down. As beloved as Oscar was, dozens of my neighbors are grieving as am I.

Since he was a pup, I’ve been Oscar’s friend, dog walker, bath-giver and, I suppose, his biographer. In a column years ago, I recounted when Oscar’s photo was on the the Big Blue bus as a “Community Hero.” It was such fun to see his smiling face whiz by.

The award was given because, since he was 5 months, Colleen had taken Oscar to the Police Athletic League’s “America Reads.” Oscar would sit patiently in a chair as young kids read stories to him. As Oscar would stare intently you’d swear he was listening to every word.

The day of the final appointment at the vet, Colleen, with the generous help of another long time tenant, Darren, gently put Oscar into a red wagon and wheeled him into the lobby so everyone could say goodbye. (The wagon was kindly lent to Colleen by Shores residents Lance and Julie whose dog, Max, died not that long ago.)

In the lobby, tearful residents pet and hugged Oscar for the last time. Darren then carried the wagon with Oscar in it, and placed him in his Highlander hatchback. Through the back window, Oscar was still gazing at his friends in the lobby as Darren and Colleen drove off.

Oscar uniqueness might be explained by his training as a seizure alert dog, beginning at 10 weeks. As a result, as my friend Andy puts it, “Oscar had so many human facial expressions, you just thought he was a person.”

My neighbor Alison felt similarly. Once, as she petted Oscar who stared lovingly at her, she said wistfully, “Oscar is so handsome, he listens so sincerely and he stares at me with those eyes. He’d make the perfect husband.” “Al,” I replied, “he has a tail!” “I meant besides that,” she responded.

I would be remiss if I didn’t describe Oscar chasing a tennis ball into the ocean. A powerful swimmer, he’d attack the waves with such joy, strangers would stop and watch. Curiously, he would often bring the ball to one of them, which, despite my warnings, they’d find endearing. That is, until he shook water all over them.

Afterwards, I’d make sand-covered Oscar sit under the beach shower. He didn’t like it but he seemed to know it was the price for surfing the waves. (On my Facebook page is a photo of a soaking-wet Oscar looking plaintively, “Can’t we stay?”)

Back to Monday, before going to the vet, Darren and Colleen stopped at the duck pond at Douglas Park, one of Oscar’s favorite haunts. Oscar never once chased the ducks, he would just visit with them. Much like when I’d take him hiking at Will Rogers Park.

After the hike, I’d feed the deer who’d often eat carrots out of my hand and occasionally a deer would get nose to nose with Oscar. (He was jealous the deer were getting food so with my other hand I’d sneak him some.)

At the vet, Oscar was thoroughly serene. He laid his head down as he got the sedative shot and drifted off to sleep. Fifteen minutes later, the vet asked Colleen and Darren if they were ready. Fighting tears, both nodded and the final shot was administered. Very peacefully, Oscar was gone.

In Colleen’s apartment, Oscar’s water and food bowls are on the floor just like always. On the wall hangs his blue service animal vest and leash. Any second I expect Oscar to bark for a treat as he often did when he first saw me. Now, in the silence, I wipe away tears.

On his last night, I gently petted Oscar before kissing him goodbye. So content, he gave me that look like, “Thanks for being my friend.” I hope he knew that went double for me.

Colleen is unsure about getting another dog. If she does, given the legend that was Oscar de la Rascal, the new pup will have very big paws to fill.

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