In 2003, I worked full-time from home as a property manager for a student apartment complex near the University of Colorado in Boulder. Eventually, I figured that I needed to take on part-time work outside the house to make ends meet, and so I did.
Malai had horrible separation anxiety, so I decided to find her a companion to keep her company while I was out of the house 4 hours a day.
It just so happened that one of my tenants, Christine, had a former roommate in the mountains had a petite black Lab named Mia that had just had a litter of pups. Eight to be exact. She asked if she could adopt one and overlook the “no dogs allowed” policy the property owners had put in place. I agreed in spite of the fact that I could lose my job from it. I was already battling with the property owners over numerous issues, and so knew that my time there was limited anyway. The stipulation I presented to Christine was that I would likewise adopt one of the litter.
So agreed, we went to see the furry family. Sure enough, eight little bundles of black fur were tumbling over each other, growling and playing. Except for one. He sat in a corner, watching his siblings make fools of themselves. I asked if there was something wrong with him, but his owners indicated that he was just a very serious dog.
I climbed into the pen and the little quiet one immediately came over and climbed into my lap. He was pure fuzz. Small enough to hold in my cupped hands. The other pups ignored us while this one snuggled up and fell asleep.
My heart melted. They’d named him Ozzie after Ozzie Osbourne, but I didn’t want him to be a rock-n-roll dog. However, the name fit him so well. At home, Malai seemed to adore the little fuzzbutt, and so he became ours.
He went through a growth spurt at the age of five months, so bad, that he was in danger of going lame because his ligaments and muscles could not keep up with his growing progress. He gained 14 pounds a month for four months. Soon he was growing into this hulking black bear. I called his former family and asked who his father was. They weren’t sure, but suspected either a Newfoundland that lived several miles away, or a black bear.
My vote was on the bear.
I had to have both Ozzie’s back legs broken and rebuilt because of the growth damage. I had to sell my car to pay the bill, which totaled $10,000. But he was such a sweet pup, there was no way I could euthanize him just because I couldn’t afford the surgeries he required. Because I had to sell the car, at one point, I carried Ozzie the three miles to the vet in my arms.
To date, it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Ozzie grew into a beast, but was so gentle and kind. He allowed kids and puppies alike to jump on him, pull his ears, tail, eyebrows, lips… He was so even-tempered and well-mannered, I decided to enroll both he and Malai in classes so they could be certified to work with children in the oncology ward at Children’s Hospital.
So, Ozzie missed almost all of his puppyhood, but gave his youth to serving others, which has truly defined him. He was welped on January 7, 2003. He ended up outweighing all of his seven siblings by nearly 70 pounds. He continues to be kind and amazingly gentle. Though he’s since retired from service, he continues to bring joy to the neighborhood kids, who flock to him so they can give him hugs. I call him a walking teddy bear. He definitely lives up to that term of endearment.