Love of a Dog

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    Oct 11, 2012
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I have always found it difficult to actually put in words the love I have for my dog and in turn how I think he reciprocates with his love. I think the fault with the English language is that one word can have so many levels and mean so many things to so many people.

One word that I think has so many meanings and different levels, is Love. Without getting into the human side, I want to describe my love of animals and in this specific case, dogs. All my life, we have had cats or dogs, and in the odd occasions something different, such as a mouse, turtle, tortoise and even a monkey in Malaysia. Every single one touched me in a special way, but our most recent dog, Otis had so much effect on my emotions and that of the rest of my family.

Dogs have that wonderful ability to love everyone and ignore your weaknesses or strengths. They don't play games, they just love you as you are and they make you feel special in their eyes and their actions. The wag of a tail when they see you after even such a short time, is something special. They don't care if you are famous, rich, poor or have no friends. They do expect equal love back and I suspect they love consistency in your moods, in other words consistent reactions seem to favour a great response from a dog.

Otis came into our lives February 1999 and although he was really going to be our son's dog, it became apparent that he was destined for me and my wife as the daily duties in keeping the dog fell on her or myself. My son and wife saw a similar dog in a Superdogs show and decided that was the dog for them. All the dogs were true superdogs, jumping, climbing, catching balls, flipping over and over, but one dog simply ran into all obstacles and created sheer havoc and also decided to grab one of the fences in his mouth and took off with it, that was the one my son wanted. Otis was an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier.We spent the next few months calling breeders and decided on one. We picked him up about 6 weeks after birth, and of course he was barely bigger than my hand. We took him home, Otis shivering with anxiety all the way home.

The first year was tumultuos to this little character. He had puppy mainge and also a dry eye condition in which he could not produce tears. After a couple of operations and continual daily eye drops, Otis started to show his true personality. He was scared to death of walking the streets with us, the noise of the cars frightened him and the only walks he could stand were in a nice quiet park. He was a dog of habit, he would only walk the same route and in the same direction every time. When we tried to walk left instead of right, he would put his little but strong legs down as if brakes, and there was no way he was going the wrong way. He would lay on the floor of our car, not seeing a single turn but knew exactly when we reached the park. If ever we changed our route, he would start fidgetting and get anxious knowing that something was wrong.

The last 10 years I have worked at home and that was a true blessing I think for Otis. Monday to Friday at 8am to 5pm, Otis would follow me into my office and except for breaks for nature calls and food, he would be at my feet, sometimes looking up to make sure I was still there but most times just listening to my voice. Saturdays and Sundays he knew somehow and would proceed into our family room waiting for me to come in and watch my sports programmes.

The love we have for Otis is hard to describe. Again I think love has so many levels and differs depending on who it is. The love for your spouse, your children, your parents is different with unique emotions for each. You may love your job, a restaurant, a movie, a book but all again are different  emotion levels. The love for an amimal is unique too, whereas your spouse can tell you that they love you and show it in their actions, with a dog it is shown in other ways. Sometimes a friendly bark, sometimes a tail wag and other times it just shows in their eyes, Otis showed that in spades.

About 9 months ago, Otis needed another eye operation. While he was there, they of course took blood tests and something just didn't seem right. They took more tests and determined that he had a tumour in his annus sac and also cancer in his lungs. The dog oncologist said that it was too far gone to do anything and gave us prescriptions to try and minimise his pain and to make the most of every day with him. We did and even though it was obvious he was in pain at times, he continued to do what he normally did, albeit at a slightly slower speed. He continued to be at my feet Monday to Friday and look up every so often to ensure I was still there. The last couple of weeks the pain hit him at different times but we got used to what he wanted, whether it was a nature call, water or food. The last week we had to carry him to each function. He never reacted negatively in any of these moments, surely he must have felt some pain when we picked him up.

Two days ago his breathing was awful to hear, so painful and it was obvious he was struggling to breathe. We had no option but to take him to the vet. We wondered if we were being selfish in wanting him around and I think we probably were but we agreed once it was a point of no return, we had to take him to the vet.

Within a couple of hours Otis was no longer with us. Neither one of us had any idea what effect it would have on us. We knew it would be bad but it affected us even more than we expected. He was so special, he went straight to our hearts and the love we had for him was without equal.

For a male, I am realising how incredibly soft I am and truthfully that does not bother me. Perhaps that is why Otis and I related so well, he saw something in me that made him feel good. Why am I writing this? I think it is therapy for me by sharing the love I had for such a wonderful animal.

If you don't have a dog but wanted one, please only see the good side of owning a dog and the love they give you. It is truly amazing and I would hate to go through life without experiencing that love from him and in turn the love I gave back. Dogs are very special and to own one is a life-changing experience for both parties. I meant to add one thing, if you are so inclined, look at YouTube under "Otis walking backwords" mispelled by my son-in-law.

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