My nemesis and incessant companion is an elderly overweight beagle named Otis. My sons and I rescued Otis from a nearby shelter; he was a two-time loser, having been left first in Indiana and then again once he came to the Northeast. It wasn’t hard to figure out why; at 3 years he was barely housetrained, totally undisciplined, and aggressive with other dogs. He was also singularly unemotional.
Now I’m not one to attribute human characteristics to animals. Dogs are at their core instinctual beings as opposed to rational. Nevertheless most dogs have personality, playful, protective, feisty, and so forth. Otis however was and is a blank slate. Once he got over his fear of other dogs, he ceased to have any dominant characteristic at all, save his houndlike love of food, especially Special Breakfast Sunday. His favorite 30 seconds of the week.
People have been known to walk hesitantly onto my lawn, calling his name, because they feared he was dead. He can lie in the sun for a very long time. Seriously, the dog never moves. Now that he’s old, he must sleep 20 of the 24 hours of the day. Movement is limited to enforced marches, getting up for breakfast and dinner, and about 4 positional shifts each day depending on the position of the sun and me.
Nevertheless, Otis is an unlikely inspiration. My neighbor across the street called to me the other day. As we were chatting in the shade, she said, “Otis has taught me so many lessons.” “He has?” I asked incredulously. “Yes!” she replied. “I see him and remind myself, take a break. Those dishes will be there tomorrow.”
Come to think of it, Otis has the right of it. Whenever possible, live like Otis.
Eat when you can, whatever you can, as much as you can. Enjoy it.
When you’re sad, howl. Let it out. Let someone know, ask for comfort.
Stop and smell the roses. Or who peed on the roses. Take in All The Smells.
Rest when you’re tired. Rest when you feel like resting. Just rest all the time.
None of the other dogs are thinking about you. Live your own life.
Follow the sun. Roll in its warmth.
Every day is special breakfast day.