On my recent Mardi Gras visit to Mississippi, I flew into Gulfport Airport and Dad picked me up. As we were pulling up to the house, I asked about Otis, the beloved family dog. "He's ready to die," he said matter-of-factly.
"Dad! That's a terrible thing to say!"
"It's true though. He's made up his mind."
I brought the luggage in and gave everyone hugs, including the nephew and two other dogs. I asked about Otis and Julie said, "He's in the back room. You should go say hi. We'll leave you two alone."
I went back to greet one of my oldest canine friends and found a dog who was little more than skin and bones. His back legs were failing and he looked incredibly sad and tired. Dad was right, Otis was ready to move on. Apparently, the vet has confirmed that nothing is really wrong with him, even though he doesn't want to eat, he's just ready to go.
My brother, Rob, adopted this handsome noble beast (half black Lab, half Rottweiler) so many years ago - was it 11? 12? 13? - that it seems Otis was always around. My mother calls him "my first grandchild" and they share a special bond. For years, Rob & Otis were a team. Before he met his wife, before his moved to Mississippi, before becoming a father - it was just a boy and his dog.
MaryAnn called this morning to tell me the inevitable, that Otis was put to sleep on Tuesday. She is sad and my brother is probably feeling a deep grief that he would never discuss. I keep remembering that year my brother took a break from dating and decided to get a dog. He just hung out with Otis and worked on his new house, very little socializing. They were best friends.
I'm so glad I had the chance recently to hang out with Otis. I'd sit with him in the grass, looking over the bayou and rub his tired head as often as I could. He'd lean his big black head against my leg and lift his paw up for a belly scratch. What a sweet, sweet boy.