Within the weeks main as much as a heated presidential election, one other shut race performed out that had canine lovers throughout the nation faithfully voting on-line each 24 hours for his or her favourite furry mates. For 4 weeks, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 9, practically 1 million votes have been solid in Garden & Gun magazine’s Good Dog Contest.
In the long run, out of practically 12,000 canines entered within the contest, it got here down to only two canines who have been neck and neck for the lead – Oscar the Blind Canine, a bluetick coonhound from Cellular, and a puckish-looking blue heeler from New Jersey named Hank. The ultimate tally: 45,238 votes for Oscar, and 44,054 votes for Hank. The subsequent runner-up, Lilly, a typical poodle from Florida, had lower than half as many votes as both Oscar or Hank, with 20,641.
Oscar licked ’em all, simply as his supporters believed he would. “Individuals received extraordinarily aggressive about Oscar successful,” says his proprietor, Jenn Greene. “It grew to become a Cellular mission.”
When Jenn heard concerning the contest, she determined Oscar simply might need a shot at successful. She selected the right picture – Oscar standing on a low-lying department of an historical oak tree in Washington Sq., proper in the course of the Oakleigh Historic Backyard District – and did her finest to encourage others to vote for her candy, blind pup. Her Fb posts, every accompanied by an lovable picture of Oscar, advised his story, from how he misplaced his eyes when he was simply an 11-week-old pet to how a lot he loves his “brother” Charles to his enjoyment of burgers from Callaghan’s Irish Social Club.
For a lot of, the voting course of was one thing to look ahead to on daily basis. Cheering Oscar on by social media shares grew to become one thing of an obsession, particularly in Cellular. One buddy, Jason Valentine, created and shared several funny memes that includes Oscar.
Tom Andrews, one other buddy of Jenn’s, shared a heartfelt put up about Oscar: “He’s gregarious, by no means meets a stranger, he’s practically fearless and lives life with a pleasure that any of us could be fortunate to expertise,” he wrote. “Higher than all that, he shares that pleasure freely with all that he meets. You can not stroll away from an interplay with Oscar with out having had your day improved.”
Jenn and Oscar have been even invited to attend a digital Cellular Metropolis Council assembly through Zoom. When Cellular Mayor Sandy Stimpson talked about Oscar in his on-line e-newsletter, Jenn couldn’t assist throwing a bit shade towards his closest competitor: “There’s no method Hank’s mayor is displaying him this type of love,” she commented on Fb.
Because the winner of essentially the most votes, Oscar was named prime canine within the readers’ alternative class. One other canine, Dylian, a pool-loving Chesapeake Bay retriever from El Paso, Texas, was chosen by editors of the journal as the general winner.
Whereas Oscar hasn’t met any of the canines he competed towards, he harbors no in poor health will in the direction of any of them. In actual fact, he’s by no means met anybody he didn’t like, whether or not it’s a human, one other canine or a cat. “He doesn’t have a imply bone in his physique,” Jenn says. “He doesn’t get aggression, growling or barking. He thinks it’s a name for love.”
‘Hounds are powerful’
In simply eight years since she moved to Cellular from Boston in 2012, Jenn has been a shining mild locally. She has co-founded two nonprofit organizations, the Delta Bike Project, a neighborhood bike store downtown, and Delta Dogs, which raises cash to assist low-income residents maintain their pets. Her “day job” is working for the town of Cellular as appearing director for applications and mission supervisor, engaged on large-scale infrastructure and livability tasks just like the Three Mile Creek Greenway Path, St. Louis Avenue rehabilitation and Langan Park Lake dredging and environmental restoration.
Although she’s identified for her love of canines and her dedication to rescuing animals of all types, from birds to cats to, simply final week, an injured pelican on the I-10 Bayway, Jenn didn’t develop up with canines. In actual fact, she’d by no means had one in all her personal till she moved to Cellular, the place she knew nobody. She discovered Charles, a hound combine, at a rescue occasion, the place, because the canines round him barked and growled, he checked out her casually, paws crossed, “like, ‘Greetings,’” she says. They’ve been inseparable ever since.
Charles labored as a search-and-rescue canine till he was paralyzed in a coaching accident three years in the past. Jenn nursed him again to well being. Now white-faced, he has adenocarcinoma however nonetheless manages to accompany Jenn to work on the Delta Bike Venture, the place he’s the supervisor.
A 12 months after adopting Charles, she discovered Daisy on the county animal shelter. Daisy had suffered mistreatment and intensive accidents over time, and Jenn grew to become a well-known sight at occasions round Cellular with the regal purebred redbone hound using in model in her transformed bike stroller in her golden years.
As soon as she had Charlie and Daisy, Jenn received concerned with the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue group. “I’ve misplaced monitor of what number of I’ve fostered,” she says, guessing it’s round 50 canines.
Final 12 months, Jenn received a textual content from Trisha Davis, the director of the Monroe County Animal Shelter in Monroeville. “She’s wonderful,” Jenn says. “She does a lot with so little.” When Trisha texts, Jenn is aware of it’s as a result of there’s a hound in want.
“The textual content was only a picture of Oscar at 11 weeks,” says Jenn. “It was horrible.” The pet had been surrendered by a breeder and was affected by congenital glaucoma. Considered one of his eyes had fissured down the center. “He will need to have been in horrible ache,” she says. “However hounds are powerful.”
He went straight to Dr. Jennifer Wilder, Jenn’s finest buddy and associate in Delta Canines, at Ark Animal Clinic, the place he was stabilized. She thought she would possibly be capable to save one in all Oscar’s eyes, however ended up having to take away each of them.
Jenn agreed to foster Oscar however quickly knew she had so as to add him to her little menagerie. She remembers the sound of his howling within the kennel as he recovered from surgical procedure, “in a bit tiny child hound voice, along with his eyes sewn shut.”
Throughout surgical procedure, the veterinarian was in a position to expertly depart two brown patches of fur proper the place his eyes could be. So generally it’s tough to inform that not solely can he not see, however he has no eyes in any respect. He wears a thick collar that claims “Blind Canine,” however often he’s nonetheless mistaken for a seeing-eye canine. Jenn explains that she can see, however he can’t – she’s his seeing-eye human.
Shortly after Jenn introduced Oscar house, Daisy died of pneumonia at 18 years of age. It was virtually as if the previous lady waited till her mom had one other companion to take over earlier than she departed. And she or he left Jenn in good palms – er, paws.
Regardless that he can’t see along with his eyes, Oscar “sees along with his coronary heart,” as Jenn advised Backyard & Gun journal. He’s sensible and has mastered 25 instructions. He goes into the entrance yard with Charles and is aware of to cease earlier than he will get close to the road. And whereas he would possibly attempt to lope alongside behind anybody who walks by, he all the time comes again when Jenn calls him.
“Everyone seems to be drawn to him,” she says. “He’s so loving. He by no means has a nasty day until he’s in bother, like when he ate 5 kilos of pet food. He’s simply such a candy boy. He has no thought he’s blind.”
The 72-pound canine enjoys working, occurring hikes and using in a ship within the Cellular River Delta with Jenn, and he’s studying easy methods to swim whereas sporting a life jacket. “He’s up for something,” she says. “He’s good off-leash and listens very effectively.” On the Delta Bike Venture, he’s the assistant supervisor and “emotional help canine,” giving out hugs to “anyone who asks.”
Since he received the competition, he has turn out to be a star round Cellular. At a current go to to the close by canine park, Jenn overheard two folks whispering, “Is that Oscar?” Individuals strolling by her home will shout out to him, “Congratulations, Oscar!”
For his celebration dinner, he loved a Conecuh sausage burger at Callaghan’s. “He was tremendous pumped about that,” Jenn says. “Oscar has no thought about fame, however he loves consideration. He was blissfully unaware of how a lot pleasure he was giving Cellular, how a lot enjoyable folks had.”
On a current afternoon, Jenn sat speaking to me on her blanket-draped sofa. Curled up beside her on one facet was her present foster canine, Jubilee, a chic, aged bloodhound with epithelial most cancers who just lately suffered a stroke; on the opposite was Oscar, “nonetheless an enormous pet,” who lay along with his head between two of the again cushions, napping. Charles had nestled his head firmly on my lap.
“Simply because a canine is a bit completely different or has well being challenges doesn’t imply they’ll’t be saved,” Jenn says, nodding towards the three canines sharing the sectional along with her.
Oscar’s solely reward for being named the readers’ alternative winner within the contest is “quarter-hour of fame and hugs from the entire world,” she says. For Jenn, the competition has given her “a superb alternative to speak with folks about canines who’re completely different,” she says.