Bulldog Otis — ruler of the house

Coastline Pilot

While on one of my infamous walks about town looking for special animals and their owners, I came upon a young lady named Meghan McMannus who had an obvious crush on her dog, Otis. It was "Otis this, Otis that" — she could not say enough about Otis.

Otis is a vision: He is a bit tall for his breed — English bulldog. But all else fits: the jutting lower jaw and the classic bottom incisors protruding over his upper lip, the snout the that appears to have been hit by one of the many trash trucks he goes after, the tongue that does not quite fit in his mouth, and the build of a champion wrestler. It is all there and it all says "bulldog." It's his propensity for tea that makes him English.

Her search for the specimen of her dreams lasted about six months, and, just when she was about to give up — surmising that there was no such animal — she met a vacationing couple from Idaho who had just had bulldog puppies. Usually it is the tourists who bother the locals, but not this time. Meghan became an inquisitive pest. She found that it was the first time they had ever bred their male, who had been a show dog winner. She kept in close contact with the couple, continuing to be a pest until Otis was old enough to leave his mom. He will be 6 years old July 28, and I am sure that party plans are under way.

When she finally got to meet the little man for the first time it was love at first snort. He flew all the way from Idaho and landed at John Wayne Airport in a special carrier. As a typical new owner, she placed his carrier in the back seat, and him in the passenger seat, perhaps as a relief driver, because she was sure he could do anything. Instead she doted on him at every stop. While driving, Otis climbed over the center console and onto her lap where he wedged himself in between Meghan and the steering wheel. It was snuggle at first ride. She had to put on her hazard lights and wait for traffic to go around her so she could reposition him. Needless to say, he stole her heart and they were not even home yet.

Although people always ask why Otis is his name— possibly inspired by her admiration for Otis Redding — alas there really is no explanation except that he looked like an Otis. It just fit.

Otis knows all the "treat spots" in the downtown area. He loves going to Wells Fargo Bank (where they take him behind the tellers' counter for treats), Bank of America for more treats, Copy and Print Center, whose owners are true dog lovers — they recently went to rescue one dog and came home with three — and Little Bohemian for still more treats. If she attempts to bypass any of these places of business, he will drag her back so he can get his treat fix.

One of Otis' favorite activities is sun bathing. Meghan has to monitor his sun worshiping, making sure he does not overheat. He is amazingly patient and forgiving with children, even when they try to ride him. Otis is incredibly gentle and loving despite his appearance. He has a way of brightening everyone's day and putting a smile on the faces of all he comes across.

The only time he really barks is when anything is out of place, right down to the furniture being moved, or new art on the walls. Being ruler of the house is a tough job. Otis lets his owners know when things are not how they should be in his kingdom. They have to persuade him to "go survey the damage" before he becomes comfortable with the changes, and they also have to convince him the changes were his idea. When he takes his afternoon nap on the couch — his throne — he will lie on his back with his paws in the air and his jowls move with every breath.

Otis loves the vet and the mailman. When guests come to visit, he gets so excited that after he says hello, he takes his plush puppy soccer ball and goes to his designated spot to chew, sometimes for hours, to relieve the stressful encounter. He moves faster than the speed of light (which is quite remarkable compared to his usual snail's pace) when he thinks he is going to visit his "Grandpa" or "Grandma."

We all try to teach our pets tricks, but Meghan's attempts to teach Otis how to skateboard failed miserably. He flatly refused to participate in this juvenile activity. Instead, he would chase the skateboarders down until they abandoned ship, and then pick up the board in his mouth and prance around with his new prize until caught by the skater. He does, however, sit on command, shake paws, speak and lie down for treats — no treats, no tricks.

For some reason, our dinners are always more interesting than what is in their bowl and Otis, like most dogs, will sit and stare for a special dinner. He has also been known to drool, accompanied with a quiet moan/growl to get attention.

Otis' typical "potty" walk is at a snail's pace. He's incredibly stubborn, which is true to his breed. When walked, if there is any attempt to pull on his leash to pick up the pace, he will pull back, stop and pout. His owner likes to cruise around the downtown area, and while mom is cruising, Otis shows off, walking a bit faster with his head held high, and a bully stick in his mouth. When he sees someone he knows, he'll put his leash in his mouth and wag his whole body.

Despite his size and girth, Otis is a cuddle bug. Most of the time he is an angel, but even angels snore. He normally waits to go to bed until his owners do, and if his beauty rest is interrupted, he will sigh loudly and move to another room and ignore the disturbance.

Otis is truly loved by owner — and all.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World