Otis’s cheese

23 Nov

It took a while for me to fall in love with Otis. It was never my intention to include a dog in my life, and so welcoming an 8-week-old that had a long run ahead of him was quite the leap. Having never had a dog before, this particular one, a high-octane, smart as a whip Australian Shepherd, proved challenging. More than a year into our relationship I remained skeptical of its merits, and even its future.

Then we shared a piece of cheese together.

I was alone in the kitchen, working on a spaghetti alla carbonara. When I reached into the fridge to grab the Parmigiano-Reggiano, Otis, who had been wrecking his usual havoc elsewhere about the house, suddenly appeared at my side. He looked exceptionally curious, even for him. Busy with my cooking I patted the dog’s head absently and went to his stash of cookies, but when offered one he declined. Clearly the animal’s full attention was on the Reggiano and so I broke off a small piece, took a bite of it myself, an offered the rest to my handsome friend.

“You’ve got good taste, I’ll give you that,” I told Otis after we’d quietly shared our third of several small hunks of cheese, both of us on the kitchen floor by now. “Maybe there’s hope for you, after all.”

That was more than a dozen years — and certainly hundreds of pounds of Reggiano — ago. Otis has been at my side for all of them. I can honestly say that I have never loved another creature more.

I also cannot ever think of this cheese without thinking of him. Because no food, not one, ever pleased either of us more. Reggiano is way more than a staple around my house. It’s as important as water and air. For me and for Otis both.

And so on the way over to the vet’s office yesterday morning my wife and I made sure to bring along a nice big hunk of Otis’s cheese. When it’s my turn to go out, hopefully with loved ones helping me along, it’s what I’m gonna want too.

Addio mio caro amico.

13 Responses to “Otis’s cheese”

  1. Velva November 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    I loved this post….Our furry family members earn their places in our hearts.Velva

  2. TheMaskedPoster November 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    It appears you won't be sharing your cheese with Otis any longer, but take comfort in the memories of past sharing. Condolences to you, and R.I.P. Otis.

  3. Gio November 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Oh Mister Meatball, I'm so sorry Otis is gone. Come to think about it I need a fresh wedge of Reggiano. In Otis's name.Gio from CH

  4. Chuck November 24, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    I'm tying this with tears in my eyes. I'm so sorry for your loss – this is a beautiful tribute to Otis.

  5. Anonymous November 24, 2013 at 5:23 am #

    A warm and fitting tribute to your beloved companion.Interesting that just this very evening I was thinking about my Marnoonis who I lost about 5 years ago. She was in my life for 16 years! She was trained to never beg for food in the kitchen or at the table. But her one weakness was when I had a pork butt or two on the smoker — when it was done and I brought the smoked pork into the house she would circle and plead with those big eyes until I relented.Tonight I smoked two butts for some friends and of course I was thinking about her. I wish she was still here to enjoy a nibble with me. Dave

  6. ann tracy November 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    So sorry for your loss… we had to put our 14 yr old dog down recently so I understand your loss….

  7. Anonymous November 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Very lovely tribute. Dogs and cats. Love them. Thank you for this.Pam

  8. Arlene November 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    I'm so very sorry for your loss. A beautiful dog and a beautiful story.

  9. Anonymous November 28, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    RIP Otis. You have good taste. Mr.Meatball, sorry for your loss..

  10. Kevin Horne December 1, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    (Sorry if this double posts)Only a pet lover could fathom what was required to put this post together. Not just the present pain, but the loss of the years of unconditional love…May you take solace in your memories.

  11. Claudia December 28, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    What a rush of feelings now. I am thinking of the sneaked treats Sadie and I shared. I know the love. And know I know a bit more of your heart and lot more of Otis's! He chose you to be his human for a very good reason.

  12. Anonymous January 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    My first visit to your blog and you made me cry! Pet, love, cheese, this post has it all. Sorry for your loss, and this post was a beautiful one. I look forward to many more visits.Karen

  13. Anonymous January 4, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    This beautiful story gave me chills. My first dog was an Aussie, too. He'll be waiting for you when you need him.

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