Throughout history, there have been many famous duos: Simon & Garfunkel, Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson, Mulder & Scully and then there’s… Martin & Oscar: the inseparable man-dog partnership that has travelled the world. JOCK caught up with them to talk about their extraordinary friendship and valuable work.
When talking about his best friend, Oscar, Martin Bacsak’s admiration is palpable. The pair has been together for Oscar’s whole life and it was obviously love at first sight.
“I saw Oscar for the first time when he was 4 days old,” says Martin.
“His breeder, Helga Haberle, lives just around the corner from my house in Cape Town. I was given the opportunity to pick him out of a litter of 6 puppies. At the age of 6 weeks, he arrived at our house and he has been with me ever since. He turned 9 earlier this year.”
Martin has diabetes and Oscar, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, is trained to alert him if his blood sugar drops to dangerous levels. As a certified service dog with advanced obedience training, Oscar accompanies Martin everywhere, including on his world travels.
“Oscar has travelled with me all over Africa,” says Martin.
“He has been to the United States and many countries in Europe. There are so many exciting places we’ve visited. From the beaches in Mozambique to the deserts in Namibia, the forests in Europe to the glaciers in the Swiss Alpes. He has travelled in cars, mobile homes, quadbikes, aeroplanes, helicopters, microlights, bicycles, boats and motorbikes. I guess you can call him a very seasoned traveller.”
Oscar has even accompanied Martin to the Austrian F1 Grand Prix, seemingly unperturbed by the roaring engines. However, it’s not all play and no work for the pair. Together with his wife Claudia and some friends from Swakopmund, Martin founded Desert Lion Human Relations Aid (DELHRA), an NGO with the aim of mitigating conflict between human and lions in the remote north-western part of Namibia. Basically, they help farmers to protect their livelihood in an environmentally friendly way from the last free-roaming desert-adapted lions in the world. It’s in the remote desert and bush where Oscar seems to be most at home. An avid camper, his job is to warn of any danger around the camp at night. Martin calls him ‘bush smart’, and as Martin’s service dog, Oscar has been allowed to travel to most national parks in Southern Africa.
The adventures of the duo reminds one of the adventures of another famous staffie and his owner.
“Yes, you are right,” says Martin proudly. “He is definitely a Jock of the Bushveld — but coming from Cape Town he is also a Jock of the Beach. He loves the sea and the waves, even though he’s not the best swimmer out there. I bought him a life vest many years ago to give him the confidence to tackle the rough seas. He was a bit of a Duracell Bunny in his early years but now that he’s matured he knows how to conserve his energy.”
Brave. Smart. And with a big heart willing to please his owner. Now that’s our kind of dog.
May this legendary pair continue to amaze and impress wherever they go.