Wednesday, November 22, 2006


For the past two weeks, I've been both traveling and then in deadline mode. Today I turned in a proposal - the last one due before the Thanksgiving holidays. I had planned on writing tonight about my trip to San Francisco. I have a lot to say about it...things I did, people I met, unbelievable sights...

But, I've been sidetracked by a piece of my past that has remained with me more than I ever realized until tonight. I'm absolutely wrecked, and while I usually don't blog when I'm slightly under par (OK, most of the time), I felt obliged to do so tonight. I'm not really sure where else to direct it, actually.

After I got home tonight, I did my usual...I put my laptop case and purse down, let Miss Tess Larue out of her cage, did the "good girl" dance with her and let her out to play a bit. Then, it was feeding time for her, and I sat down to read my email while listening to her munch. Just like I always do upon my return home from work. Much to my surprise, there was an email in my Inbox from my ex-husband. It's been a while since I've heard from him. And, it was titled, simply, Otis.

Otis was the very first dog that I got on my own. I got him in 1993 in Boston, while I was attending Harvard that summer along with my ex-husband. It was the best summer of my life, actually, that I can recall before I divorced. Boston is just one of those places that I loved instantly. I lived at 127 Commonwealth Avenue in the shittiest of student housing apartments. It was one of the hottest summers on record, and we had no air conditioning. We didn't have a kitchen. And, the linoleum on our apartment floor was cracked and aged - God knows it probably came with the place and was built in the Depression. But, I loved every inch of it, because it was in the best part of town - and it was Boston, for chrissake. There's nothing like that place. I was just 21 years old that summer, and it seems like it was yesterday.

One day, while strolling along Newbury Street (the Rodeo Drive of Boston), my ex and I walked into a pet shop. I remember looking through the cages and seeing Otis. I truly believe that animals pick us, and Otis definitely picked me that day. My ex had his eye on a little Shitzu, but I didn't notice any other dogs besides Otis. I had the owner take him out of his cage, and he ran around for a while before landing on my lap. His little puppy feet smelled like Fritos, and I knew I wouldn't be leaving there without him. So, I shelled out 150 bucks for the mutt (future vets would say he was part coonhound, part cocker spaniel, but we never really knew nor did I ever really care) - 150 bucks was steep, yeah, but it was Newbury Street, after all. And the rest was history.

We named him after Otis Redding. Being from Georgia, I had a sordid affair with Redding's music when I was in my early 20's. This was post-Bob-Marley phase and pre-Dave Matthews phase. Otis just looked like an Otis, too. There was never another name in the stars for him.

If someone asked me to describe that dog in one word, I'd have to say warmth. He was unconditional love...absolute joy...wrapped up in a dog. He was selfless, brilliant, and loyal to a fault. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He had a wicked-unbelievable vocabulary by a year old. He was tolerant and gracious and unbelievably patient as a dog. He let children pull on his ears and adults pose him at will as he laid there, trusting and always docile. He was definitely part hound, and hounds in my experience are like my favorite type of person. They're just real in every sense. No frills, no bullshit.

I didn't have kids, and Otis was my kid. He was my first baby, and so today, when I got the email titled with his name, I just knew what it was going to say. I suppose it's like when a mother gets bad news about her kid. She just knows. And, I knew. So, I hesitated, took a deep breath, and opened it.

My ex wrote simply, "Otis was put to sleep today. I thought you should know."

I would go on and on about Odie...what he meant to me, but I think I've said enough. In fact, I dealt with it the best way I could at this point. After a few glasses of vodka and a river of tears, I had to write something about the dog I loved so very dearly. My blog is the only eulogy he'll ever get.

If my faith in God ever wavers, I remember that dog. And, I know, in an instant, that there is a God. Because that dog was truly an angel sent from him.

I'll miss you, sweet little Odie.