We love sharing the heartfelt stories of the people who’ve dedicated a park bench to their loved ones—-including the four-legged ones. This month we’d like share one of those stories from Emily and her favorite friend Oscar.
By Emily Singh
I moved to Charleston from Texas in June 2009. I had just graduated from medical school and matched into the pathology residency program at MUSC, where I would be one of 5 first year residents. After having lived the majority of my life no more than 90 miles from my family, this was a big move for me. Unlike going away to college, I knew not a soul in Charleston, let alone the state of South Carolina.
One evening, just before Thanksgiving, I was perusing Craigslist, looking for cheap furniture for my first “big girl” apartment, as I had done many nights prior. For one reason or another, I clicked the Pets link and started looking at dogs – the first and only time I had ever done that. It was there that I saw a schnorkie named Oscar available in Goose Creek. His parents were in the military and couldn’t take the dog with them in their upcoming move. It was love at first click.
And so I got him. After having gone “just to look” at him, he came home with me that night.
Most mornings and some evenings Oscar and I would set out and walk from our little house to Colonial Lake. That was our “short route.” The long route involved going around the lake, around the Battery, and to Waterfront Park. Oscar loved going on walks. He had never lived in a real house–-only apartments and the carriage house-–and he loved to mark his territory. Going for a run with Oscar meant many, many tinkle breaks.
The last year I was in Charleston, I had vowed to do the Bridge Run. Training meant waking up early and running around Colonial Lake with my pup. Oscar had the body of a schnauzer but the legs of a yorkie-–little stubby things-–and as I increased my distance, I wondered if I was making Oscar run too far. But he always seemed to hang in there and would still be tugging at the leash when I started to do my cool-down walk back home.
Oscar made the move with me back to Texas and he eventually did get a house, complete with a backyard and a dog door. He met and (mostly) approved of my husband. We found a park with a walking trail close to our house, with plenty of places to mark. We settled into our nice suburban life.
When Oscar got sick, it took me some time to admit it. I tried to convince myself that he was fine and just wanted to be left alone. But when he started to not seem to recognize me, I knew things were getting bad. This dog may have hated plenty of things, but he always loved me. The hardest day of my life was acknowledging he didn’t have a good dog life anymore. The goodbye felt very abrupt, even though in retrospect it had been a long time coming.
Every time I visit Charleston, I go on our old “long walk.” The first time I returned after the renovation of Colonial Lake, I was amazed at the change. I noticed the new benches, and knew that was the perfect way to honor Oscar. His little paws ran more miles around that lake than any other downtown schnorkie, I’m sure of it. I hope he can see his bench from doggy heaven, and smile thinking about marking it.
To read more stories of family and pet park bench dedications click the photos below.
About the Bench Dedication Program
Since the program began in 2015, 26 benches in 6 Charleston parks have been dedicated in honor of loved ones, special occasions, and beloved pets like Oscar. In addition to raising more than $90,000 for the support of our parks, these benches weave the stories and memories of park users throughout these spaces.
All proceeds from this program support the Conservancy’s work in 25 Charleston parks. If you would like to learn more about this program, please visit https://www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/parkbench or contact Stephanie Lee at email@example.com.