Chad Tucker, a news anchor in Greensboro, North Carolina, recently had to say goodbye to one of his dearest friends – his cherished dog Otis. He helped him during a difficult time in his life, and was there for him when he got married and had his children. When Otis became fatally ill, the Tucker family made a bucket list for him, and when he died, wrote a heart-touching tribute.
Life with Otis and his Bucket List Weekend
July, 2006 – June 12, 2016
As the sun started setting Sunday, my wife Meredith and I held our sweet, gentle Otis as he slipped away to our creator. We loved on him like he loved on us. We wanted him to pass knowing just how loved he was and we thanked him for the joy he gave us and so many others.
I believe God puts His creation in our lives for a reason. Otis came into mine in 2006 at just 6 weeks old. He was more than just a rescued Jack Russell/Bichon mix dog. He rescued me.
During a very tough time in my life, before Meredith and two kids, Otis was my constant. When I would come home depressed, heartbroken and feeling like a failure there was Otis. He listened to all my troubles and loved me when I didn’t love myself. He was my bridge from that tough chapter in my life to the blessed one I live now with a beautiful wife and two young daughters.
He was with me through my entire 30s. I learned so many life lessons from Otis during that decade. His gentle heart taught me about forgiveness. His unconditional love taught me to love again. While always standing there in my shadow he taught me about loyalty and the blessings that come from being humble. He also taught us all to laugh, a lot. Especially when he would get his head stuck in the treat jar or fall in the empty washing machine trying to get the treats on the shelf above.
Otis happily welcomed everyone I brought into our lives. When Meredith and I married in 2012, he was right by our side as our ring bearer and stood in the shadows wagging his tail during our first dance. He allowed Meredith to put shoes on him and dress him up in Halloween outfits, he let Lucy (our 2012 rescue dog) chew on his ears anytime she wanted and he loved the many tea parties and stroller rides through the neighborhood with Carson Parry, my 2-year-old daughter. Their friendship was unmatched. Never would Otis leave her side. He was always right there. I pray she’ll hold at least some faint memories of their very close friendship. If not, I’ve got plenty of pictures and videos.
Otis loved being around people, especially children. He loved community Christmas parades and Fox8 morning news segments. Through children’s events Otis would play with kids while I talked to them about caring for pets. Through his social media pages we shared his charm, goodness and lots of pictures of shelter pets in need of adoption.
A little over a week ago we discovered, all at once, that our Otis had diabetes, Cushing’s disease, pancreatitis and rapidly progressive kidney disease. Looking back he had some of the warning signs but we thought changes in his behavior were related to issues he had with bladder stones, a change in diet, and age. After a week in the animal hospital, and with no signs of improvement, we brought him home Friday morning for a weekend packed full of loving on him and doing all the things he loved.
“Otis’ bucket list weekend” included the morning air atop Pilot Mountain, taking a long afternoon nap under a black walnut tree in Stokes County and enjoying long car rides through the foothills. Otis loved car rides and always wanted to sit in our lap while we were driving. I never let him because I thought it was too dangerous… but on this weekend we had no rules.
We had our family Christmas card photographs taken and played in the sprinkler till sunset. Despite being sick Otis wouldn’t let Carson Parry play in the water alone. Weak, he stood up, walked over and stood by her side like he’s always done. Just before the lightning bugs started, Carson Parry asked Otis to hop in her little car for a ride, which he did as he always has. Knowing he was sick she told him “we won’t go far.”
We stopped for ice cream, visited his favorite bank teller and one night just sat up holding him till 3 am. He loved being loved on. We spent our Sunday morning doing some back porch sitting before loading the family in the car for an afternoon along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had a picnic in Blowing Rock, threw stones in the creek, rested in the shade and took in the views. The Carolina sky seemed a lot bluer this day.
As the weekend started to wind down and we began our trek home, Otis was getting weaker and we knew the time had come. We dropped Carson Parry off at a friend’s home where she told her loyal friend, in her soft toddler voice, “good-bye Otis … see you in heaven.” My youngest daughter, 2-month-old Pearl Monroe, stayed with us, sleeping through it all.
If only we lived every weekend like “Otis’ bucket list weekend.”
Despite a rambunctious toddler, a 2-month-old and our always barking Lucy, our home seems so quiet now. Maybe it was just his time, maybe his purpose here was complete. I just always thought he would live long enough to see Carson Parry off to school. The pain of his absence hurts. But our memories are full of a wonderful creature God put in our lives nearly 10 years ago to teach us about love, friendship, loyalty and joy.
Thank you Otis for rescuing me.
I love you buddy.
A special thank you to Dr. Mark Hauser, Dr. Eric Shreves and the entire staff at Surry Animal Hospital, PA for the exceptional care and love they provided our Otis. Thank you to photographers Cindy McFarland Photography of White Rust Photography and Joey Benedict of j&a photography for dropping everything to capture our family on short notice.
Because many of you have asked; Donations can be made in Memory of Otis to the Friends of the Stokes County Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 1807, King, NC 27021 or the The Sergei Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 17256, Winston-Salem, NC 27116.
Click on the Facebook post below to see all of the photos of Otis’ last weekend.