Bye, bye, bunkie!

On Friday, Veteran’s Day, 11-11-11, Carla and I had to put our oldest pet, 16 1/2 year old Otis, to sleep.  He had taken a sudden dramatic downturn on Wednesday, where he couldn’t stand for more than a minute and could barely walk — only a few steps and then a stop and collapse.  For a guy who liked to wander the yard, this was too much, and we knew it was the end of our time together.  A real Steady-Eddie, Otis was panting and clearly freaked out his last day with us — the one last thing that made his life worth living and worth celebrating was now gone, and it disturbed him profoundly. 

We got Otis about 5 years ago from Pug Rescue — he had been given up by his original owners who felt that he was too old and likely to need medical assitance at age 10.  He stayed with the Dresslers of Auburn, KS for some time before he came to us.  At the point that the Dresslers got him, he was blind in one eye, and almost deaf, but he could get along o.k., though he didn’t do steps well.  I was proud of the fact that, by the time the Dresslers next saw him, I had gotten him to tackle stairs again.  He still preferred the ramp, and the level ground, but he could climb stairs and was in excellent physical shape (other than his monocular and deaf status). 

There are things about Otis that I’ll always remember.  When we got him, until he lost sight in his good eye, he would always dart out his bed when we left in the morning to go to work.  He’d run in a circle and bark.  We never knew exactly what that was about, but it seemed to be his way of saying, “Don’t go!  Stay with me!”  I’m not sure if his original owners had taught him this behavior as a trick, but we looked forward to it.  When he lost the sight in his good eye, he no longer did this, barking only when we put him out on the porch as we prepared everyone’s breakfast.  All the other dogs would bark, and he would bark his own Otis bark, deep, regular and steady.  When I would pick him up to bring him to his breakfast, I’d always hug him and say, “Good Otis!  You’re letting the neighbors know — Otis lives here and is awake!”  Other than those two cases, Otis did not bark.  And except when someone was trying to hone in on his food, Otis did not snarl.  He was the most even-tempered dog I ever met.  Pugs are not known for great temper, though we have a couple who can get pretty agitated, but when the other dogs would get upset (because of the thundering in a storm, or because the dog next door was barking, or because a jogger or a cyclist was going by), Otis would remain steady.  None of our dogs enjoy having their nails clipped, but Otis always took it in stride, even when a nail was clipped to the quick.  It is Otis’ steadiness that I shall miss most of all.  I would often think of Garrison Keillor’s statements he attributed to fellow Minnesotans when things would get tough — “Could be worse!”  There was a Stoic acceptance in the little guy I found most inspiring.

I shall also miss the guy’s joie de vivre — of all our dogs, it has been the two guys, Marcel and Otis, who have shown the greatest joy in simply moving about the yard.  Marcel would trot about, even though he had bum back legs, and we could see something of the puppy he had been.  In Otis’ case, it was always a more determined gait — he always loved being outside, even in bad weather (so we got him a little yellow slicker), but more so once he lost his sight.  Inside the house, there were so many surfaces he could bump into, but outside, there was greater room where he could get together a good pace and keep it up.  And, though it sounds disgusting (let’s face it, it is pretty disgusting), Otis took great joy in finding poo in the yard.  It was not uncommon that when we found him, he’d have discovered some and would be chowing down, molto con brio!  I guess he’d always been a recycler — he had in the time we knew him.  And though thinking about what he was eating was rather distasteful, I always took delight in the joy he expressed in his eating (even poo). 

For the past few years we called Otis “Bunky.”  I first had called him “Chunky,” for we called Marcel “Bunky” as he was the only dog we let come upstairs with us.  “Chunky” came from a film about the Kennedy Assassination, but I started using it to give Otis a nickname like “Bunky” that was different.  When Otis first lost his sight, he’d have a tough time moving about the house, bumping into walls and furniture.  So for a time, I started calling Otis “bonkie,” as he’d bonk into things, but then “bonkie” became “bunky,” even though it meant we had two “bunkies” for a while. 

The next time something goes wrong for me, and I get ready to go ballistic about x, y or z, I hope I’ll think of Bunky, the guy who had a lot of bad things happen to him — through it all, he chose to accept his lot and find his joy.  Goodbye, Bunkmeister Fuller — we’ll miss you, little guy!

1 Response to “Bye, bye, bunkie!”

  1. November 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about Otis. He was so lucky to have you and Carla to care for him these past few years!

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