NC dog once labeled gay, enjoys new home, viral attention

Oscar the “gay” dog went from enduring health conditions and possibly years of neglect to becoming a viral sensation and laying on the feet of his new owners at their home in Indian Trail.

“For the ‘gay dog’ to get adopted by the gay couple seemed like a happy ending,” Steve Nichols told The Charlotte Observer recently.

John Winn, left, and Steve Nichols sit on their front door step with their new dog, Oscar, in Indian Trail. Steve and John adopted Oscar after learning about how his previous owners thought the dog was gay. Khadejeh Nikouyeh

In March, Fezco was surrendered to Stanly County Animal Protective Services after his previous owners saw him humping another male dog. The owners wrongly mistook Fezco’s behavior as homosexuality. Dogs often hump other canines if they are stressed, want to play or to show social status or control, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Nichols drove 40 miles to the shelter in Albemarle to adopt Fezco, who he and partner John Winn named Oscar, after Oscar Wilde, a gay Irish poet and playwright in the early 1890s.

Nichols and Winn hope Oscar’s “happy ending” can convince others to adopt and care for stray dogs in need of a good home.

The story of Oscar the “gay” dog went viral earlier this spring. Now he and his new owners have become advocates for adoptions of homeless pets. Khadejeh Nikouyeh

Oscar’s story went viral

Oscar’s story quickly spread after his adoption.

Nichols and Winn received calls from ABC News and “Good Morning America,” NBC News and the “Today” show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and other shows and news outlets worldwide.

“We were on websites in India, Malta, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia,” Nichols said. “We were shocked by that.”

Boxes of dog toys and treats arrived from random people, Nichols said.

There was just one problem: Oscar couldn’t enjoy any of the attention or gifts. He had to stay at the Greater Charlotte SPCA for a week to be neutered and receive heartworm treatment.

Then, doctors at Pressly Animal Hospital found a malignant tumor during Oscar’s surgery, Nichols said. Oscar’s heartworm treatment after the tumor’s removal also took a toll on him, he said.

“He was pretty sick. He couldn’t hold his head up very long,” Nichols said. “He was so sore that if we touched him he would yelp. We tried to give him a bath, and he snapped at us. He tried to bite us because he was in pain.”

‘Gay as he wants to be’

Once Oscar started to feel better, he became this “great dog” who liked to play and chase the couple’s 10-year-old Chihuahua-terrier mix, Harry, Nichols said.

“They’re inseparable,” Nichols said about Oscar and Harry. “They’re always together, but they’re not like cuddling. If I pet one, the other one has to be petted.”

But is Oscar gay?

It doesn’t matter, Nichols said, because the couple loves him anyways.

“He can be as gay as he wants to be,” he said.

The couple has not let Oscar out of the house much because they want the 5-year-old mutt to sleep and eat his treats like a normal dog.

Like most dogs, Oscar did run away one night after landscapers left the couple’s back gate open. Winn said. He let Oscar out to pee around 2 am, but the dog never returned, he said.

“We were running up and down the alley and street in our underwear screaming ‘Oscar!,’” Nichols recalled.

As soon as the couple spotted Oscar walking toward their home, they called his name and stopped their car, Winn said.

“He ran right over and jumped on my lap,” he said.

Oscar gives his new owner, Steve Nichols a kiss Friday in Indian Trail, NC Steve and John Winn adopted Oscar after learning about his story. Khadejeh Nikouyeh

Their message: Adopt, don’t shop

Oscar was one of many stray dogs who need homes, which is why Nichols and Winn decided to raise funds and awareness for the Greater Charlotte SPCA.

“We’re just trying to bring attention to the work that the Greater Charlotte SPCA does,” Nichols said. “They rescue dogs like this every day, and actually some dogs that are in much worse condition.”

Nichols said people should think about adopting before they shop for a new dog.

“There’s so many dogs out there that need homes that just need to be adopted,” he said.

Ally Bank contacted the couple and agreed to make a “substantial contribution” to the Greater Charlotte SPCA, Nichols said.

The couple does not have any social media accounts, but Oscar does so his story can reach the masses. He has a Facebook and Instagram accounts and his own website,

“Consider adoption before you buy a dog and support the local organizations who take care of stray dogs,” Nichols said “There is hope for even weird, gay dogs.”

John Winn, left, and Steve Nichols walk with Oscar, right, and Harry in Indian Trail in early June. “They’re inseparable,” Nichols said about Oscar and Harry. Khadejeh Nikouyeh

This story was originally published June 7, 2022 11:53 AM.

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Jonathan Limehouse is a breaking news reporter and covers all major happenings in the Charlotte area. He has covered a litany of other beats from public safety, education, public health and sports. He is a proud UNC Charlotte graduate and a Raleigh native.


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