Since May, I have been going to a personal trainer, which explains my stunning physique. Before our first meeting, she asked, “Do you have a problem with dogs? Mine likes to be in the room while people work out, but if you don’t like them, I’ll put him upstairs before you arrive.”

I guess you don’t need to wonder about my answer.

Otis was right at the door when I arrived, large and magnificent, never barking. He looked like a cross between maybe a Great Dane and a Lab or something. But he had brindle fur, so he was like a large mellow Peanut Butter Cup. Not that I’ve seen excitable Peanut Butter Cups.

I meant to take 109 photos of him through the months, but I was always, you know, working out. This is the only one I took of us.

My trainer got him because, years ago, a friend of hers was in the woods, and Otis came bounding up. He was alone. The friend asked my trainer, “Can you just keep him for a night or two while I find his owner or a new home?”

My trainer said yes, and that night, Otis got in bed with her and spooned her like she’d never been spooned before. Well, I own this dog now, she thought.

A picture of Otis that she sent me, knowing the extent of my obsession. My Otsession.

Right before my accident, she mentioned Otis was getting arthritis, and you can imagine the godawful long walks a personal trainer must make a dog take, so she ordered this huge stroller for him to go in when he needed a break.

Then I got rear-ended, and couldn’t go to the trainer for more than a month. I went back I think last week for the first time, and when I saw Otis my eyes welled. He’d declined so much. His tail was straight down. He didn’t lie on me when I was prone on the mat. Normally he delighted in flopping all 700 pounds of himself on me, for comfort. “I think it’s more than arthritis,” she said, mentioning they were going back to the vet.

I made sure to go pet his big head between sets of torment.

On Sunday, my trainer texted me. “I had to put Otis to sleep today.”

Dammit. I loved that dog. I wish Otis well and hoped he’d have a good time in Peanut Butter Cup heaven.

Yesterday I was back at the trainer and she told me a story. Her ex-husband had just called her. “I can’t get this out of my mind, and I have to tell you,” he said.

He’d been to the dump, as you do. And it was this odd, out-of-the-way dump. At said dump, there was an old man, but not sitting next to him makin’ love to his tonic and gin, thank heavens. “How you doin’?” asked my trainer’s ex-husband, probably just being polite, as Southern people are wont to do.

“Not too good,” said the old man, and oh, here we go.

“Last week my wife of 50 years died. We were at home. It was completely unexpected. Then the very next day, my dog died.”

I mean, if it weren’t for bad luck he’d have no luck at all.

On Sunday, the old man went for a walk. Without his wife or even his dog, he was at loose ends. He just went for the walk to make himself feel better, and maybe he should’ve tried getting amorous with a tonic and gin.

As he walked across a field, he saw a dog.

The dog bounded over to him from the woods. He’d never seen that dog before in his life, but it rolled over to have its stomach rubbed, then got up and walked right at his hip for an hour and a half.

The man headed home and the dog went with him. What could he do but let it in? He fed the dog, not sure if he was going to keep it or what, but that night, the dog spooned him like he’d never been spooned before.

My trainer’s ex-husband paused. “Do you…have a picture of the dog?” he asked.

The dog looked exactly like Otis.

That dog bounded out of the woods to the old man, same as he’d bounded to the trainer’s friend that day. He’d bounded out of the woods on the same day Otis died.

“I guess Otis found someone who needed him more than I did,” my trainer said.

And that is the story of Otis, the magic Peanut Butter Cup dog.

86 thoughts on “Otis

  1. Lisa from Texas says:

    Wow! Wonderful story! So sorry for everyone who loved and was loved by Otis.

    Like

  2. Darla says:

    Just came back to read this again. It gives me faith.

    Like

  3. Traci DeFelice says:

    Oh my. I love the way the Universe works, even when it breaks your heart.

    Like

  4. amarabray says:

    I never see brindle dogs. The night after I read this I met a nice Dutch Shepherd that looked like a peanut butter cup. Such a great story.

    Like

  5. boomersmommasmomma says:

    That is just like the movie “A Dog’s Journey”.
    So sad and he had his little big stroller.

    Like

  6. A fan says:

    Long time reader here and I’ve always enjoyed your writing, but lately just wow! What a talent you have. Your stories are to me very Capote like, my favorite author. Must be you are getting a bit of the South in your blood 🙂

    I know you’ve heard it a million times, but you really should have your work published. Best wishes to you and thank you for years of enjoyable reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a moving story—and perfectly told!

    Like

  8. Tracey says:

    I’m so sad for your trainer, but I’m so happy for the man who lost his wife. A good dog helps to heals your wounds.

    Like

  9. Juice says:

    Nicely done, Coot

    Like

  10. Linda Glazier says:

    That is the most beautiful story I have heard in a long time. Thank you so much for sharing it with us June.

    Like

  11. Worker Bee says:

    Oh my gracious, I love this so much! What a wonderful story and how comforting to you think Otis is bringing joy to another person now.

    Like

  12. Jan says:

    Beautiful story, Juan.

    Like

  13. Oh my gosh. Trying not to cry here at work.

    Like

  14. Laurie (Lucy's mom) says:

    June, thank you.

    Like

  15. banne4 says:

    Yes, sobbing! So beautiful and your storytelling skill is magical!
    I had overnight guests recently who do not live with cats and dogs. It was heart wrenching for me to see them shun the love my babies shower on everyone that comes near.
    When they left in the morning we just sat and cuddled and loved each other – my babies had to know that they are my treasures no matter what!
    Animals make life worth living!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Koala Raspberry says:

    June, your writing skills are incredible. You truly know how to weave your words in to a tale of pure magic. Another one that hit me in all of the feels. RiP, sweet Otis the first. I hope your trainer finds a very special friend again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Another Kelly says:

    What a beautiful tribute to Otis and what an unexpected turn of events. Dogs are magical beings, aren’t they?

    Dogs and Cats are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

    Like

  18. Meg in CO says:

    I can’t. I just can’t.

    Like

  19. Pal from MA says:

    I love this so much. I am crying.
    Dogs are magic.

    My sweet Lady, Koty and Sadie… I still mourn them.

    Thank you for this.

    Like

  20. debwhosbacktobeingdeb says:

    There is always potential danger in reading your posts first thing in the morning. This was beautiful and heartbreaking and joyful.

    My sweet, almost 16 year old lab is starting to decline. It’s just heartbreaking. There is not a night that I don’t cry myself to sleep, knowing we won’t have much longer with her. We treasure every day, but if you had told me 16+ years ago what losing a pet would be like, I would have thought you were nuts. It’s like losing your best friend and child all rolled into one. I don’t know how I am going to survive it and come out the other end with any happiness left in me.

    Like

    1. Beth from the woods says:

      One thing that really has helped me is all the very good memories I have had with my animals. The animals all helped me get through the hardest of times and losing a part of your being , your life, your interest in life, the love of your life, the spark of your life are the animals and great memories you are left with.
      The hugs , snuggles, running, playing, and unconditional love they share with you, so that you can remember them.

      Like

  21. dgirl89 says:

    What a magical, mystical story!

    Like

  22. Kate says:

    I LIVE for stories like this!

    Like

  23. Lauren Kelley says:

    I just lost my brindle hound on Monday. I had to put her to sleep due to lung cancer. My Loucy was my heart and soul and I have felt so lost and empty each day without her. I just got the call from the vet that her remains were back, and I began to sob again… I just opened your blog five minutes after that call. I feel like maybe Otis greeted Loucy since they were both new….it’s amazing how they are the best of us…better than the broken humans that they adore so much. I feel completely lost without her. But maybe she is having a great time with him able to breathe fully while she waits for me to see her again…

    Like

    1. Beth from the woods says:

      I am so sorry for your loss Lauren Kelly. I know how it leaves a hole in your heart. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lauren Cook says:

        Thank you! The pain is honestly still overwhelming. The house is too quiet. I just miss her so much.

        Like

        1. Lauren Cook says:

          Sorry, Cook is my former last name. And it still shows up on WordPress.

          Like

  24. Oh OTIS!!!! Love this but also so saddened by this. But you only just met him! Dang.

    Like

  25. Your mother’s neighbor says:

    Oh, geez. Thanks for the eye washing session. Dear, sweet Otis and his spiritual brother. What a lovely story to end the week. Whew…still teary-eyed.

    Like

  26. Florence says:

    Dammit, June…

    Like

  27. Cathy B in Toronto says:

    Oh man. Glad I’m by myself reading this. Actually re-read it a couple of times, cried and smiled every time.

    Like

  28. Barb inCA says:

    Oh wow…..thank you for such a beautiful story. I so agree, animals are like magic, and love and better beings than we humans are. Our sweet dog Max was a gift to my son when he turned 5, it was all he had wished for for years. He begged us over and over to get a dog and my husband finally blurted out “You can’t have one until you’re 5!” thinking that he’s barely 3 years old, he’ll forget I promised that. Well, he has a memory like a steel trap and would tell every single person he met “Hi, I’m Lucas, I’m free (that’s age three with a lisp), and then I’m four and when I’m five I get a dog.” Max is a crazy mix of cattle dog, kelpie, setter with a small fox terrier dad, a sweet black and white spotted mutt who has bonded with Lucas like a shadow for 13 years. He has the patience of a saint with our 2 crazy cats and loves us beyond measure.
    Lucas left for college out of state in mid-August, it was a bittersweet, long, teary goodbye with Max, his best friend from kindergarten thru starting college. Within a few days of us returning from dropping him off, Max went down hill, losing weight and his sharp hearing, turning grey, looking all of his almost 14 years almost overnight. We’re not sure what’s wrong, he’s just now bouncing back and still eating good, currently laying in the sunshine napping. My dear friend pointed out that he may be broken hearted…..I’m praying he can make it thru to Thanksgiving break so they can be together again. Oh now I’m really ugly crying…….

    Like

  29. bobb1jd says:

    Verklempt.

    Like

  30. Jeanie Herkomer says:

    I love Otis! My condolences to your trainer and you, too. I think he will continue his happy life with the junkyard guy. Lovely, lovely post, June. And lovely comments from your FRs today also.

    Like

  31. Beige says:

    My head is sort of spinning with all that. Good spin, sad spin, life spin.

    Like

    1. Capelover says:

      I don’t know whether to cry or smile a great big “knowing” smile. Precious Otis knew he was needed by someone else. I’m sorry for your trainer’s loss, hope she’s found comfort in knowing her ex’s story. Why can’t people be as wonderful as dogs??

      Like

  32. SusanGSO says:

    Lovely post. Also, what did we do before the internet could deliver giant dog strollers in 2 days?

    Like

  33. Terri Cooper says:

    Life is mysterious and beautiful.

    Like

  34. Hot in AZ says:

    Awww, sweet Otis.

    Like

  35. LisaJoy says:

    Animals are magic. You’ll never convince me otherwise.

    Like

  36. llbrat says:

    My daughter can watch Saw movies but she can’t watch any movie where she suspects an animal is in distress or going to die. “If it’s ‘A Dog’s Purpose or Life or Journey’, I’m out.”. When we watched Game of Thrones, I covered my eyes for the carnage. She couldn’t watch the CGI dragons suffer.

    Like

  37. LaUral says:

    Oh my gosh – that is amazing! And I’m totally welling up with tears.

    Otis, the magical angel peanut butter cup.

    Like

  38. Helen says:

    Now if I ever get another dog I wanna name it Otis.

    Like

  39. Kim says:

    Have mercy! I was fixing to be irritated that I had to read the story about poor Otis and POW! This is wonderful.

    Like

  40. Vic says:

    Well done, Coot.

    Like

  41. Mary Lou says:

    Beautiful post, June.

    Like

  42. The Candy-Devouring Poet says:

    And here comes Halloween with all the Reese’s. That’ll be weird this year.

    Like

  43. The Poet says:

    Sniffle. The joyous Otis spirit couldn’t wait. Dammit, I can’t work through tears.

    My hometown friend had to put her suffering cat to sleep. She left the cat’s toys out for a while, and they tended to move in the night.

    It seems many people around you have stories like this. I will wait patiently for mine.

    Like

  44. Ashley C. says:

    For the love of GOD I just did my freaking makeup. That was absolutely lovely, June.

    Like

  45. laurieintexas says:

    Otis has now become another dog I love, but never met! Beautiful tribute, June!

    Like

  46. Jill Munroe says:

    Shit..that was good.

    Like

  47. Dawn Custer says:

    What a beautiful story. I’m so glad you shared it with us.

    Like

  48. 1madgirl says:

    My heart just grew too big for my chest.

    Like

  49. Kris in TN says:

    Dogs are so amazing … what a wonderful story! I still cry whenever I think of my sweet Gizzy that we had to put to sleep in late June. There’s just a piece of my heart missing now and I keep wondering when I won’t feel his loss so deeply. Maybe that day will never come – he was so special to me.

    Like

  50. Sadie says:

    I went from smiling and laughing at Otis in the stroller to crying at his passing and tears at the sweet story of Otis and the old man. I’m so sorry for your trainer’s loss.

    Like

  51. Peggy in MN says:

    You made my Friday morning, June. And also, Lisa NTL, I need to hear your ‘Ooooeeeeeee’ stories!

    Like

    1. Lisa. Not THAT Lisa says:

      The first story involves our first family dog. She had a tag that had been on her collar for 10 years. Same collar. Same tag. After she was gone, the vet gently removed her collar and handed it to me. I looked at it and said “that’s weird. Her tag is gone.” Got home and there was her tag… laying in the middle of the living room floor, waiting for me. I felt like it was her way of saying “I’ll never leave you”. When I examined the tag, there was no way it could just fall off the collar – the S hook was still tightly closed on both ends. And yet, there it was.

      The second one was when we had to have our Lab put down. We had a another dog and they were best friends forever. We took the Lab to the vet and decided once we heard the options that it was time to put him down – fast spreading cancer. Once it was over, I called my daughter who was home with the other dog and before I could break the news to her she said “Mom – I can’t even hear you. I don’t know what’s going on, but this dog started howling 40 minutes ago and he just won’t stop”. He knew the exact moment that his best friend’s spirit had left his body and his heart was breaking. He had never howled before and he never did it again.

      Life is full of beautiful and mysterious things.

      Like

      1. Koala Raspberry says:

        This story gives me the chills.

        Like

        1. Kymberly says:

          Chills.

          She lived with an Angel 🙏💕

          Like

  52. Love, Jimmie says:

    Well. Tears were not in my plan for the day originally.

    Like

  53. Katie says:

    Oh my God.This story needed a warning. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  54. Anonymous says:

    Oh……

    Like

  55. Angie P says:

    So bittersweet.

    Like

  56. L.in CA says:

    Beautiful. Rest in Peace Otis.

    Like

  57. Beth from the woods says:

    Wow. So sad , but so happy. Conflict of emotions here. Wonderment.

    Like

    1. Koala Raspberry says:

      I had no words. Yours were perfect.

      Like

  58. Georgia says:

    Wow. That’s amazing. I’m so sorry for your trainer. And I’m sorry that training won’t be the same for you now.

    Dogs are so much better beings than humans!

    Like

  59. Just Paula H&B says:

    OH
    MY
    GOD.

    Like

  60. Donna of the floating head says:

    Sniff.

    Like

  61. Barbara says:

    What a tale of joy and woe!

    Like

  62. DeDe says:

    I’m so sad for your friend, but love this story so much. Thank you for sharing it.

    Like

  63. PLS says:

    Tearing up, so amazing.

    Like

  64. gladyswhoisalsobee says:

    Lovely post, Coot.
    I am ugly crying. Thank you for sharing this. I wish Otis redux brings Old Tonic and Gin lots of comfort.

    Like

  65. Iowamom says:

    Oh stop! You’re making me cry. Otis looked like a wonderful dog and I’m so happy he had such a loving home.
    Our beloved 11year old yellow lab died unexpectedly this August. Our middle child went to her freshman year of college then two days later our oldest went back for sophomore year. Champ (best dog ever) laid down in the backyard and left us. Our youngest (15yo) was there with him and it snapped his heart in half. We got a sweet black lab puppy two days later to mend our hearts. He’s precious and sweet and we love him with all our might. Chief would have loved Champ and we think they knew each other in dog lives.

    Like

  66. Iowamom says:

    Oh stop! You’re making me cry. Otis looked like a wonderful dog and I’m so happy he had such a loving home.
    Our beloved 11year old yellow lab died unexpectedly this August. Our middle child went to her freshman year of college then two days later our oldest went back for sophomore year. Champ (best dog ever) laid down in the backyard and left us. Our youngest (15yo) was there with him and it snapped his heart in half. We got a sweet black lab puppy two days later to mend our hearts. He’s precious and sweet and we love him with all our might. Chief would have loved Champ and we think they knew each other in dog lives.

    Like

  67. comandobarbie says:

    I think that’s pretty much the definition of bittersweet. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  68. Anonymous says:

    Coot, this is some mighty fine not-blog writing today. Heartbreaking and heart lifting!
    I’ll be thinking of Otis whenever I see a peanut butter cup .

    Like

  69. Bettydh says:

    I love this.

    Like

  70. Amanda L. says:

    That is the very best kind of Rainbow Bridge story ever.

    My condolences to your trainer. Our furs (Phoebe, Ares, Acheron, Nyx, & Persephone) send her a lots of woo-wooos & many purrs.

    I’m glad that Reincarnated Otis will be comforting the man & I hope that your trainer will find her next dog when she is ready.

    Like

  71. Linda from Jamestown says:

    Oh geez – now I’m crying at work.

    Like

  72. dbinmd says:

    Oh, my goodness. I’m crying.

    We lost our big guy in July. He had arthritis and went from being stiff getting up to being unable to stand without falling over in 2 days.

    Otis. What a sweet soul.

    Like

  73. Melissa says:

    Great story!!!!! Makes me want to hug my dog extra tight when I get home

    Like

  74. Tee says:

    Now I’m in tears. I am so sorry about sweet Otis.

    Like

  75. Lisa. Not THAT Lisa says:

    Ohmygod. I have goosebumps. What a story and I don’t even wonder if that’s Otis. It’s Otis. We’ve had two very oooooo eeeeee experiences putting dogs down that have shown me that they are our connection to the other side.

    Thanks for sharing this story June. And thank your trainer for sharing Otis with all of us through you. I will never forget him.

    Like

  76. Shannon says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Otis. It just sucks.

    That story is equal parts of cool and creepy!

    Like

  77. Anonymous says:

    Sobbing.

    Like

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