Otis

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. 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.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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!

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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.

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    • 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.

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  10. 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…

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  11. 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.

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  12. 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…….

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  13. 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.

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    • 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??

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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.

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    • 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.

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  18. 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!

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

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  20. 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.

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  21. 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.

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  22. 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 .

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  23. 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.

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  24. 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.

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  25. 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.

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