birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Oscar and Sally

He’s sleeping—Oscar. He’s almost 14 years old now.

He came into our lives when our daughter said, “I want something to love.” Well, we thought for a 16-year-old girl a dachshund puppy was the way better choice, among the typical options.

So almost 14 years later she is long gone from the house, has a house of her own. And we still have the dog. Well, we have two dogs; the other is 13 now.

It turns out, male dachshunds don’t function optimally alone. Oscar needed a friend, and teacher. When he was one, and our almost 17 year old was almost never home—what with music and science and boyfriends and theater and a dozen other things, he and I went to a nearby rescue, Beagles and Buddies, to find him a friend.

As soon as we got out of the car, he tugged on his leash and headed toward the barking. He sped up as he caught sight of twenty or so dogs rushing to the fence that held them back. As he arrived nose to chain-link, a flash of white streaked from a dark corner and materialized atop the rest.

Their noses touched, and they began to bark and lick. The little white streak fell from the backs of her imprisoned peers, and the aide reached inside the gate and scooped her up. I shrugged, “Well, I don’t have any choice here, do I?”

I wrote a too big check and wrapped the little “boutique” chiweenie in my arms, while Oscar jumped incessantly to stay in touch with his new best friend.

Today I found out his heart is grossly enlarged and may be pressing on his trachea causing his cough and wheeze. She too has a largish, laboring heart. “They’re getting old,” the doctor said with sadness, fondness and resignation.

We’re all getting old.

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