Before I start writing stories again, I thought I had better introduce Oscar.

He’s handsome and well-built, has shiny grey hair with white highlights, has brown eyes and is about a foot and a half tall with four legs and a cute tail.

Meet Oscar, the mini-schnauzer dog.

I was never really inclined to having my own dog. Over the years, growing up, our family tried several times to welcome a dog to the Barr residence. There was Spike, who never figured out that house-training thingy; Mutley, who found that the taste of fresh farm animals was to die for … and a few others that didn’t quite fit the bill.

Finally Mum found Ziggy, a great walking companion and guard. Ziggy’s years were full of great doggy times with the Barrs, but, as they sometimes do, beloved pets die sooner than we do, and we lost her.

Not too long after that, a nurse rescued “T-Bone”, from Inuvik, and Mum fell in love with her, promptly renaming her “Teeba”. She even looks like Ziggy … weird.

Anyway, I personally always seemed more connected to cats. Someone told me you’re either a cat person or a dog person; well, now I am both.

Now that I am an adult, with my own family and home, taking on pets and plants has its responsibilities. I managed plants well, then added a fish to my equation.

I looked after “Boris”, the cat, for almost a year. Then behold, as folks do, I fell in love and soon after moved in with my new man, who had “Abby”, the cat – kind of snooty (the cat, that is) at times, but generally loving with an OCD thing with food.

After a year of playing house, my man mentioned how this was the longest he had gone without a dog and that we should consider a visit to the pound. I understood the yearning, but knew the shedding cat kind of drove me nuts and to double that would be a pain.

I also enjoyed the peacefulness and semi-independence of Abby, which may not be there with a dog. I especially do not desire the yipper-yappers … so annoying. So, sure, honey, we can have a dog, as long as it doesn’t shed or bark incessantly …

Was there such a hound? I wondered.

Turned out that our good friends’ dog, “Diesel”, a miniature schnauzer, doesn’t shed and barks only when it’s really important (to Diesel). The long and the short of this story is that Diesel and “Charlotte” were expecting.

We put in our request for a puppy a little too late, but alas, Oscar, the pick of the litter, joined our tribe because the original owner had to back out.

It was last Christmas and I asked around, “Is it good to give a dog for the holiday season?”

With mixed reviews I got nervous and spilled the beans. I called Mike and told him we had to talk. At this point, I was loosing sleep over it.

We met for lunch and I burst out with a few words along the lines of, “We’re having a baby! I mean, not a human baby … ahh, I mean, it’s a dog … a puppy!

“I’m getting you a puppy for Christmas! I watched as my poor boyfriend’s face turned white and then red, and then white and, finally, normal.

Mike was overjoyed and we were expecting a “fur child”.

I know it sounds weird, but often people get a dog in order to warm up to having human kids, I think; or, at times, they get dogs to replace the whole notion of kids.

You have seen them: the ladies packing their dogs around, oohing over them like newborns. It is pretty wonderful having a dog from 12 weeks of age.

Since then, Oscar is really more my dog because he goes everywhere with me.

I am self-employed, so he’s pretty spoiled with attention and adventure. As soon as Mike’s feet hit the deck of our house, after a long day at work, Oscar is pawing the door with anticipation for his best bud and they are inseparable for the night.

Now he is a year old, much larger than his puppy size that used to fit into my hand. He is such a great dog that everyone who meets him wants one just like him. (I never thought we would be a purebred owner, either, but sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.) Oscar definitely has some skills; I didn’t even teach him.

Since Oscar joined us, he has been boating, biking (mountain and motor), swimming in creeks and lakes, exploring dense bush and mountain highs and is now helping us build a house … doing surveillance, mostly.

We’ve even had a few negative run-ins with other dogs on the trails; not so fun, but a great learning experience for us both. We’ve even battled “the horrible dog lice” together.

Oscar is a wonderful new friend, loves other dogs and people of all ages, even the cat. Abby pretends to hate him, but I have seen them playing. I promised him a minimum of one walk a day, which can turn into a two-hour adventure … so I better get the leash; I’m getting the stare down.

Stay tuned for my next stories, and feel free to give me dog-owner tips, cause I’m new at this!