18-year friendship with Otis brought many life lessons
June 19, 1994, was a day Steve Monroe, of Oklahoma City, will always remember. Not because it was Father's Day, but because it was the day he met Otis. The puppy had been dumped on the street where Monroe's daughter lived. Her neighbor offered him to her but she couldn't keep him.
Though Monroe and his wife, Linda, hadn't had a dog in more than 20 years, they found themselves offering Otis a home.
Monroe named the dog after Otis Redding, his favorite singer.
“So started my 18-year association with my best friend,” Monroe wrote in his Pet Tales submission letter.
The vet said Otis was probably about 6 months old and was part Corgi and part Sheltie.
“He was the best boy anybody ever met,” Monroe wrote.
Otis was a very smart dog, though Monroe doesn't take credit for that.
“I made a suggestion, and he did the right thing,” Monroe wrote.
Monroe remembered the time he threw a tennis ball and Otis just stood there looking at him. “You're supposed to go get it and bring it back,” Monroe told Otis. About two weeks later, Monroe picked up the ball and threw it. Off Otis went and fetched it, brought it back and was ready to go again.
This became Otis's favorite game to play with visitors. He was a very friendly dog.
“People who could not remember my name knew Otis. And kids would ask, ‘Can Otis come out to play?'” Monroe wrote.
As the years passed, Otis couldn't chase the ball like he once did. His master got to where he needed a motorized wheelchair, and the two started going on long walks together. As Otis aged, those walks became shorter and shorter until one day they stopped.
Otis's last few months were spent sleeping for hours. It was harder and harder for him to walk.
On June 7, 2012, Monroe made the toughest decision of his life. He wrote:
“I took Otis to our family vet for the last time. I read somewhere that the reason we humans love dogs so much is because ‘They are what we wish we were.' Thank you, Otis. You taught me more than I ever taught you.”
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