Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Otis the Wonder Dog
To some people, writing is cathartic. It is a way to get some emotions out of you that you can't quite put a finger on. When people are happy, sad, angry, crazy; they sit down and write about it, expressing their feelings in ways that spoken words cannot. This is one of those times for me, one of those times where I feel I need to get some stuff out, but every time I open my mouth to talk about it, I get super emotional and I have to bottle it back in.
Otis, as most of you reading this know, was our family dog for eleven years. He was a black Border Collie/Lab pound dog mutt from Boulder. Yesterday, after a couple weeks of up and down, things plummeted pretty severely. Beth brought him to the vet, the doctors told us he had a bleeding abdomen caused by cancer, and we had to bring him back to the vet this morning for him to be euthanized. Yup, that quick. He was literally running around the neighborhood during the big snowstorm last week, and today he is gone from our physical lives.
It is brutal, as I am sure many of you with pets know and understand, but I never knew it would be like this. I never had pets as a kid, never had pets until I met Beth. Until I knocked on her apartment door on that first date and Otis almost knocked me over, I never knew what pure joy and happiness a dog could bring to your life. Otis didn't like me for a long time; he was very protective of Beth, and it took a while for him to warm up to me. When Beth would leave town for work, whether it was to Oklahoma, Hawaii or just Colorado Springs; Otis would stay with me, and I think that is where the bond grew. Eventually, he started to look at me as one of his "parents" as well, which was a real foreign concept to me, but a concept that I grew to treasure.
Otis was a runner, he loved to run. He ran all the time, he sprinted, he jogged, he pulled, but he never walked. We would go out on long hikes, he would run as far as he felt comfortable with up the trail, then wait for us to catch up, then run ahead again. He was at so many practices through the years, he ran with so many kids. He ran with Trevar, he ran with Mackenzie, he ran with everyone who came in-between. Otis loved to start out spring track intervals. He would sprint with the group, right in the middle of all the pounding feet, to about 30 meters around the curve. Then he would weave his way out of the pack, take a short break, and then get those kids hammering again on the next one. If he got in the way of an athlete, no worries, the athlete had to avoid Otis. He never moved out of the way, he just ran.
Beth and I brought Otis to the ocean one summer, but he hated it. He just despised the water. I carried him out into the ocean up to my waist, dropped him in, and he swam for shore as fast as he could. Then he sprinted up onto the deck, laid down, and just glared at me. How dare you drop me in the water, he seemed to be saying. But, he did love being able to run around with no fences. Otis had never experienced the East Coast thinking of no fences. Being able to cruise around from yard to yard was a dream for him. It almost made up for the time he had to be cooped up in the back seat on the drive home.
We would run tempo repeats in the fall at Holly Park, Otis pacing the kids around the tennis courts, then interacting with the group on recovery time. Those were some tiring days for him, as we would all run down to the park, do the intervals, then drag our butts back. Otis never dragged. He would get home and sleep for the rest of the day, but he never dragged during the run. He loved to be outside and running with me. In the winter, Otis would help me shovel on snowstorm days, bounding his way through deep drifts until he was tired, then coming back on the newly shoveled sidewalks to lie down in the garage. Otis was a snow dog. He didn't like the heat of the summer too much, but 10F, 0F, sub-zero; he loved the cold and the snow. Just like his dad.
When Chloe was born, it became 30 minute to 120 minute walks through the neighborhoods, every day. Me, Otis, Chloe and a cup of coffee. I always wish I had an odometer on that stroller, I bet the three of us covered hundreds of miles on those walks. And before Chloe was born, Otis was the mountain biking companion of Beth, sometimes covering up to ten miles with her, before sleeping the whole car ride home. I know for a fact Otis loved going along with his mom, no matter how far she rode, he just loved running alongside her.
I could go one for pages and pages about how much Otis loved to be active, but I will spare all of you. I just know that Otis impacted many of your lives, just like he impacted ours. If you trained under my tutelage, in any season, you knew Otis and you loved him, just like we did. But, he is in a better place now, with less stomach pain, with miles and miles and miles stretching before him to run on. If you have a moment, throw a good thought up to him. He loved running with all of you, he loved being around vibrant healthy young athletes, and he loved it when you took the time to simply scratch him behind the ears.
If you have a pet, go home today, take him for a run. Even if it is just ten minutes, go home, get a run in, and tell him that you love him. Trust me, they know what you are saying.
I love you Otis.