Walk by Oscar, as they’ve named him, and (thanks to motion-detecting technology) he opens wide, accepting whatever you toss in his mouth. A second or two later he closes his lid and sits quietly until feeding time comes again.
Ace, though he bonded quickly with my sister Kathryn and her husband John, was a little wary of Oscar, who he made the mistake of thinking was an inanimate object.
As Ace’s nose, drawn by Oscar’s multitude of odors, would inch closer to Oscar’s electric eye, Oscar’s lid would open wide and Ace would jump back. He’d watch warily until Oscar closed his mouth. Then Ace would slowly approach and sniff again, and Oscar again would snap at him again.
Eventually, they became friends.
Oscar is one of several devices at my sister’s home aimed at making day to day chores easier for her and her husband, both of whom have multiple sclerosis.
The last thing people with MS want in their home is a new obstacle, so it’s understandable that they’d have some conditions when it came to me and my 130-pound dog taking up temporary residence. On top of that, my sister is allergic to some dogs.
So the decision was made that Ace would stay on the porch. I decided I would sleep out there with him, and set up my camping cot.
As it turned out, while we slept on the porch, both Ace and I have spent most of our time inside, where, in addition to treats from my sister, Ace enjoyed much snuggle time with John, cozying up alongside him while we watched a 1960s science fiction movie on TV.
What happened during my days at my sister’s house was that everybody adapted — me, them and, probably better any of us humans, Ace, who, with only minor coaxing, showed a calm and quiet presence when in the house, staying put and, for the most part, out of the way.
It was yet another case of doggie intuition — that ability he has to sense that he’s in a setting with different rules, and then follow them.
Something Oscar — dependable as he is — will never be able to do.