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Bernie Kuntz: Dog days of summer

Oscar, our 9-year-old yellow Labrador, begins his day at 3 or 4 a.m. with a groan and a whine wanting to go out. I turn the outside light on and he trots over to an apple tree and lifts a back leg. Then he returns, usually, to the "guest room" bed down stairs to go back to sleep.

Yes—he gets on all the furniture. I go back to sleep, too.

Later, around 6:30 or so, I get up, turn on the coffee pot and hit the bathroom. Oscar is up and around again, joining me, laying on the rug near the toilet. I brush my teeth, wash up. The dog follows me down to the kitchen. I pour a cup of coffee and he moans softly, wanting his breakfast. I dish him up and he goes after it...dry food with some gravy-wet canned food on top.

I carry coffee upstairs and get dressed for the day. Oscar lies down on the bed next to me. At sunrise, he jumps into my car and we go to the dog park, a nice fenced area and usually lots of other dogs. He dashes through the gate, I grab a doggie clean up bag, and follow him where he does some business. We always fill up the one-gallon water dish too.

Back to our house, it's time see "Dad." Oscar gets a biscuit. Bernie is still in bed and it's bonding time. Oscar lies down next to Dad and begins to say good morning with a lot of licking...Bernie's neck, hands, arms. "Hi, Oscar. Did you have a good time at the park?"

Time to get Bernie up, so Oscar stays with us as Dad gets dressed.

Back to the kitchen and Oscar sits in a corner as last night's dishes are rinsed and put into the dishwasher. He will eyeball the hanging basket that has dog biscuits in it and make a little noise.

Bern comes down to read the paper after his orange juice and ice tea. Oscar whines to go out to the backyard and back in.

Bern has his cereal and milk with fresh berries on top at 9:30 or so. Then Oscar and I go out for errands, one or two food stores. Oscar loves to be in the car. We might go to the library.

At lunch time, it's ham or bacon and eggs...toast. Oh boy! Oscar is watching Dad intently, expecting to get at least a plate lick. He always does. Oscar wags his tail at Bernie. Bern sits down in the trophy room to read and Oscar will go out and stand by the back door to go out...again.

Later...nap time for Dad, and Oscar will curl up somewhere. Sometimes Oscar "sunbathes" on Bern's bed, or the bed across the hall. Both rooms have sunny windows to the south. If Oscar stretches out, he can take up most of any bed. He is 87 pounds!

In the afternoon I might go to the library. Oscar is smart. He knows the words library and ride if I talk to Bern. Bern and I wanted to be smart so I'd spell: R-I-D-E. Oscar can spell, too. So—no fooling him!

Oscar follows me everywhere. Back to the kitchen to prepare some items for supper and he's there. Bernie goes down for his afternoon TV shows and Oscar checks on him now and then.

Early morning or evening, as the days get shorter, Oscar is with us here and there in the house. When the light is shut off in a room, he knows we will be closing a door or just leaving. Then he will find his own spot to sleep, of course after whining to go out again.

Bernie got sent to the hospital again a week ago. They figured out a problem with lung infections, treated him. He will be going to PT next and then returning home. In the meantime, Oscar is watching for his "Daddy" and gets more R-I-D-E-S to and from the hospital across town.