Friday, January 14, 2011

Goodbye, Otis

Late on a Saturday night during Thanksgiving weekend two years ago, I sent an email message to a rescue group saying that we were interested in Otis.  On Sunday morning, I got a reply saying that the West Virginia shelter that had Otis would be closing the next day, and Otis was scheduled to be killed.  Would we be able to take Otis that day if the rescue people got him and brought him to Maryland?  They would waive the fee and the home visit if we could adopt him immediately.
Several hours later, we met up with the rescuers in Bowie and, in a pseudo-clandestine exchange of paperwork for dog in a dark and rainy Petco parking lot, Otis became ours.  Or we became his.

Otis' first Christmas with us, December 2008
Over the next few days, I became suspicious that Otis had some kind of problem -- maybe a UTI, I thought, as he was dripping pee droplets every so often -- and he bunny-hopped up stairs.  Something wasn't right.

Our wonderful vet caught a couple of problems:  One was that he must have been in some kind of accident that caused neurological damage (witness the scars on his paws).  The other was that his bladder was misshapen and too large.  He wasn't able to get all the pee out by himself.  She cautioned me that he would need us to "help him go" and that the dripping might be a forever event.  She told me to go home, talk it over with my family, and decide if we could handle this.

Otis was already my dog.  I couldn't give him back.

Sentinel of my heart.  December 2010
 I've written about Otis before here.

Classic Otis.  December 2010
 And here.

While he didn't like the rain, Otis loved the snow.  December 2010
And even here.

Otis' last neighborhood walk.  December 2010
Of course, when we learned that Otis had untreatable cancer and had an estimated six weeks to live, I wrote about him here and here and here.

We had three wonderful weeks with Otis from the time we learned that he had cancer until he passed away two days ago at home, with his family around him.  I will be forever grateful for the care and compassion provided to him by our vet and for the fact that he was himself for those three weeks; only his last day was a day of decline, and it was quick.

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Thankfully, the vet had told me what to do if Otis passed away "after hours."  I did it, and the next day I took him to their office, said goodbye one last time, and sent him off for cremation.  I was surprised to get a call today saying that his ashes were here.  Bless our vet again, she included a sympathy card with kind words along with a paw print impression they made before he was sent on.

I've cried for my dog.  I've watched my family cry for our dog.  And I've sent off applications to rescue centers to adopt another dog because our hearts have room to love some more.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Sending my love....