My daughter Constance had this incredible dog, Otis. Otis is being placed with a new family this week. Otis is the best dog in the world. I am so happy that his exceptional skills will be used to keep another child safe and healthy.
Service animals provide healthcare services for people typically with epilepsy, autism, and/or blindness. Companion animals provide companionship to people with mental health challenges, most commonly, post-traumatic stress disorder. Otis is a service animal.
119 days ago, Otis saw Constance leave and then all of the furniture in the house leave. He knows 300 words but there was no way for me to explain to him what the hell was happening. He was scared and sad.
When there was no furniture left he went to stay with Laurel temporarily. Otis knew Laurel from his puppy days. Laurel runs Autism Service Dogs of America. This was to provide him some stability and comfort as they waited for his new family to complete service dog handler certification so that Otis could come live with him.
Otis loved it at Laurel’s house. She lives in Oregon and is surrounded by other English retrievers. The photos and videos of the white dogs jumping for joy around her yard with Otis were a bright spot in my last 119 days.
Otis is a handsome dog. Most English retrievers are but he was especially so. He has this sweet face and perfectly white hair. Constance seemed to take pride in all the compliments that Otis received when they would go places together. She’d gush. It was delightful.
Otis was always perfectly behaved.
The day we took Otis home from Oregon, we waited in the airport queue to step up to the ticketing agent. Otis was working and wearing his Autism Service Dogs of America vest. Constance was proudly holding his handle. As a coincidence, the person seeing the ticketing agent after us had a black Labrador as a companion animal.
While we were standing at the desk, the companion dog behind us saw Otis and began barking at Otis. The black lab barked one of those loud angry warning barks. His owner scolded him while pulling his leash.
Laurel only had time to teach proper behavior to one of us this trip. Hence why Otis is perfect and you still can’t take me anywhere.”
Like Constance, Otis was a happy addition to the family. He brought us joy and kindness. Prior to bringing Otis home, I read that some dogs get anxious during lighting storms and feel more comfortable if they’re put into a kennel. As a result, I bought a large cage and bed from Lamb Farm’s Pet Store. The first night he was home, a nasty lightning storm rolled in. Constance and Otis shared a bedroom. While both were awoken by the untimely bangs and booms, neither was scared. They had each other and that was enough.
The kennel remained in its box. When a former friend suggested that I should put the kennel together in case someone came over who was afraid of dogs, I was deeply affronted. I reasoned that Otis wasn’t a dog, he was a member of our family. If someone didn’t want to see him at his home then they shouldn’t come to our house.