I don't know Otis' birthday. I'm going to call it October 20 because thats when he came to live with us. But I do know he was almost 13 years old when he was called home to God. We got Otis from my brother. I live in Georgia, He lives in Tennessee. We were there visiting, as we did alot then, Otis I had met several times. But he belonged to my brother and his wife. I just loved him the moment I met him. But I felt terribly sorry for him. My brother is good guy, he's just not so good with animals. He doesn't mean to be cruel, but he is just hard hearted about certain things I guess. But so warm hearted in many ways. His wife is no different. She dotes on their children, but has no patience for animals.
They kept Otis on a runner out in back of their house,with a nice dog house and such. (they lived in a subdivision), and Otis was Wynn's(my brothers name)boy. he took him in his truck lots of places (riding on the side hanging off the back ..yikes) then he'd bring him home and tie him back up. he'd throw the ball from the door and Otis would catch it. He threw him an apple every morning and Otis would promptly dispose of it by swallowing it whole. My brother just is sort of this cowboy type guy. He now actually writes country music, and co wrote the song Have you Forgotton by Daryl Worley.
Anyway, Now I would watch this ritual every time I'd visit, and I just felt awful for Otis. He was such a great dog!! But Wynn really did teach him to be fearless, and thats what he was! So they bought a farm over the next year and moved to 80 acres on the outskirts of nashville. They tried to let Otis run free over the acreage and he did ok for a bit, but then he started going in the road..so it was back on the runner for him. So one day I was visiting at a family reunion my brother hosted, and the next day as everyone was leaving , one of my distant cousins went to pet Otis, and he bit him!! Well that was the end of it for my brothers wife. His wife wanted him to be taken and shot. I was telling them all kinds of different ideas that they could do with Otis,Chris and Daniel were begging to take him home, but Wynn said he was just going to take him off somewhere in the country and let him go free. He wouldn' shoot him. Well that didn't work for me, and long story short,We drove home in my Sebring convertible, with Big Otis' head hanging out of the window in which he barked all the way to Georiga. Big barks too. He did that for the rest of his life whenever he went for a car ride. From start to finish. He just got so excited.
So Otis came into the house for the first time with us, and immediately claimed the sofa as his. He laid there night and day for the next week. I could barely kick him out into the fenced yard to go potty. He got spoiled immediately. Not from me, now Otis was a self made man, he wasn't having any of this cuddly muddly stuff. Nor was he affected by my pet names for him. But pick up a ball around him, you never saw anything move so fast! He'd play ball until he wore you out! Wherever , whenever. A ball and a piece of bacon and life was good.
We had another dog then, Ericson, which was Otis' sister. She was a chocolate lab. She was ok with Otis, though she was getting up there in years. She tolerated him. They would play tug of war with toys, socks, balls. Then she developed cancer, and stopped playing so much. About a week after Otis moved in, He wandered into my room where Ericson and I were enjoying a movie one night up on the bed. I had a kingsize bed (thank gosh) and Otis decided to see how comfortable that was. From then on, if he wasnt on the sofa by day, he was in the bed, all 3 of us, at night. He just ruined my furniture licking all over hisself the way he did. But I didn't really care. I washed the bed linens alot, and got covers for the sofas. It wouldn't of mattered if I did care, he wasn't budging. Otis weighed like 120 lbs. He did pretty much as he pleased. And he knew it. I wasn't afraid of him, I just couldn't budge him. I don't know what made him bite my cousin, but he was always gentle with us. Not mushy, just loving in a big bear sorta way.
To be honest, I loved Otis, but I can't remember bonding with him anytime in the near future of him moving in. Ericson was my baby. And she was running out of time. The vets had told me there was nothing they could do. She had a massive tumor growing from her breast. It got bigger and bigger. I finally after so much searching found a vet that told me he could remove it. But that he believed her cancer had spread to her lungs and she wouldn't have much time afterward. Maybe a few months. My sweet girl had suffered dragging this awful tumor around, unable to barely walk. I went for it. She had the surgery, and SHE WAS A PUP AGAIN!! For 8 great months, she played like a baby again. she would roll on her back, and kick her feet in the air. She ran when we'd go for walks. She was truely a miricle girl. But the time came again, and this time I knew we were at the end. She began coughing, more and more. Until one night, at 3 am she died there on her bed by the big bed she could no longer get up on. I was lying right beside her on the floor, rubbing her sweet fur. Talking to her. Crying. Finally I told her as she labored to breath, to just let go. Just let go baby, mommy will be ok. Otis lay right there by our side. Our knight. Our watchman. And not 1 minute after I said those words to her, she took her final breath.
Oh how I grieved. But it was nothing compared to what I've felt with Otis, for one, she helped me get ready. She followed me everywhere the last 2 days. Even the night she died, I tried to get her to lie still and she just had to follow me. She followed me the last time to her bed. There we layed for hours, talking. Looking at one another. Not knowing how we were going to deal with this. Knowing the end was near. Me first begging her to stay, not to leave me, then watching her suffer to even breath to finally letting her go. Theres something so graceful about the grief , knowing it's going to happen, versus the shock of it happening suddenly.
Over the next few years, Otis and I connected. We formed a bond that I don't even remember forming. It just happened. He was my big fearless fella that was afraid of nothing. I took him everywhere with me. Barking and all. He scared the wits out of everyone around. Some guy at a store saw him in the car one day and offered me money for him. I looked at him as if he'd lost his mind.
Work started taking over my life and I had less time with Otis. We moved a couple of years ago to a farm ourselves. Horses, goats, chickens the whole nine yards. It was my dream home for him and myself as he so loved to roam. Completely fenced, a nice river running through the pasture and all the critters he could sniff after. Only, Otis and I were walking one day and I noticed him stumble. And then he laid down for a bit. I never noticed he was aging. Not until then. Work had had me so tired everyday, we'd not had ourselves a good long walk together in a couple of years. We had walks, just not long ones. this day we had a long one.
I felt my heart plummet. Otis was getting older. Or out of shape. So I immediately set a regime to start walking more and more everyday. But it wasn't helping. We went to the doctor and discovered Otis had heartworms. They said he wouldn't last long. But there was nothing they would do because of his weight. He'd need to lose 20 lbs. But they also told me not to walk him for long because of the heartworms. Good grief! How could I get this big guy to lose weight if I couldn't walk him!? So I researched online all night long about heartworms. I found a treatment that was natural, and seemed to be popular. And also didn't have the side effects and life threatning effects the vets cure had. So I bought it, and went to work. It was a regime night and day. 3 months later Otis was doing better. We continued to go for long walks, though he was developing arthritis. I also noticed he couldn't hear as well. I saw the cateracts. My worries had just begun. That was 2 years ago. Age. But he was so strong. So independent. He always went outside, he always had a good apetite. He still played ball, we went to the cabin he loved almost every month in the summer and he swam for hours every time.
Life went on..and everyday, right before my eyes, my big boy was losing his sight. And his joints hurt. He was on a natural pain reliever and it helped. He would get more spunk some days. He would get the ball, and take it and lay down to hoard it so the other new pups Panda and Buddy boy wouldnt get it. They had their own, they just so loved to taunt him by trying to take his ball. They had total respect for him though. And he earned it. He let them know from the start who was boss. That he would play when and if he wanted. And they were'nt going to persude him otherwise. And meals were fine as long as when he was finished with his, that they would step aside by a simple look he'd give them, and let him have theirs. I had to seperate them so he would not gain all the weight again.
And still life went on. Every night as time went by Otis couldn't get down or up the stairs any more, so I'd walk him around everynight. We had this path, he would go potty and right in to our room. He was now sleeping in a pain free doggie bed next to me because he could no longer (even with stairs) get into my bed. He could still get on the sofa though and leave big wet spots where he'd lick on his feet and arms most the day. For a lab, he had pretty long hair though it wasn't visible until you actually rubbed through it. So i took him every few months or so and had him groomed and shaved down. He shedded all year round. I did that a few days before he got sick. At first I thought he'd caught something at the groomers. but the vet said it wasn't as simple as that. He told me he thought he was in kidney failure, though the tests didn't prove that to be the case. He just started vomiting one day. and stopped eating. anything. I thought he had a cold, or virus. I thought he was coming home with me that day. He just needed some antibiotics and fluids. But it was not meant to be. Otis died on Jan 22 2008. And he left a hole in my heart the size of him.
There was nothing graceful or calming or peaceful about his death. He was not sufferering unbearably. (that I know of). He never moaned or cryed a day in his life. Until they pulled him out of the backseat of the truck at the emergency vet. I nearly fainted when I heard him make that noise.
They never told me what was wrong, they couldnt figure it out. They pushed for euthinization, but I refused. My baby was fighting for his life. He was still strong, he went outside to potty that morning for goodness sake. They were just to busy that night. Monday night. They didn't have enough staff. The waiting room was like that of an emergency room hospital, filled to the limit. I should've went somewhere else. I shouldve just brought him home. If he was going to die, I think this is where he would of prefered it. He tried to tell me that, by doing so much for himself. I miss him with all my heart. He was truely my hero, and I was his biggest fan. I'm sorry Otis, my brain went numb that night. I was so scared by the things they were telling me. Pushing for euthinization. When I walked in thinking all you needed were fluids and medicine. My head was spinning. My life was spinning. They were rushing me with estimates and choices, I told them I didn't care about money, I just needed them to save your life. They said you might even have cancer, you might have an enlarged liver. You might have an obstruction, You might be in kidney failure. Oh how I just wanted to run away. I told them to give me fluids for you, and pain medicine and let me just take you home, they said they couldnt do that in good concience. He said have you ever known anyone who had cancer? I said I'd lost my Ericson to cancer and my Aunt. He said it's a horrible death, he said he thought euthinization was a miricle, and he'd of used it on his father if he'd been able to. I told him he couldnt even tell me if Otis HAD cancer. Why would I kill my boy when he couldnt even tell me what was wrong. I was so confused. Not realizing he was trying to get rid of me and my big problem with the easy way out, because they were so backed up. That never crossed my mind that night. I just wanted help for Otis. You died that next morning my baby, and I try to hard to focus on the good things. And I do for the most part. I get angry, and I get grief ridden when I can't push those thoughts out of my head sometimes.
I have decided though, that for you, and because of you, I will be strong like you.You were so strong for me my prince.You will always be my sunshine boy. Always. Until we meet again, you and Ericson play lots, and find all these sweet critters from this memorial site. Their mommies and daddys are helping me keep you and theirs alive here. If only in our hearts for now...
I simply love you Otis. Now and Forever.