Katie & I have been talking about getting a bigger dog since we moved from California. One that could run in the yard. One that could stand up to a coyote. One that could be integrated into our dog tribe as Enzo & Lily get up there in age.
We started thinking more & more about it in late winter when Katie & mama Ty drove 16-hours round trip to Redding, CA and back to rescue a former handyman’s dog registered in the family name. We thought more about it when Katie did that 16-hour road trip back 10 weeks later to return the dog.
Our thoughts intensified toward adoption when we were purchasing our home.
First, the week before we bought the home, a big black St. Bernard mix walked up to Mama Ty’s door in the Spring, smelling of shit and unable to retract its drooped, parched tongue.
This dog was Katie & I’s first true introduction to the numerous efforts in Tillamook County to rescue animals and get the word out when one is missing, discovered, or is in need of adoption. From there, friends put us in touch with Tillamook County Animal Shelter and Tillamook County Animal Aid (now Tillamook K9 Rescue).
Funny ending: the employees at the Garibaldi City Hall recognized the description and correctly assumed the black St. Bernard-ish was a co-worker’s dog who kept getting out because the landscaper kept forgetting to lock the gate. Returned safe and sound.
Then, right around the time we’re purchasing our home in June, two sister dogs became available at (I believe it was) Tillamook Animal Aid (now Tillamook K9 Rescue). We were torn because we hadn’t signed the house purchase papers and didn’t know if we were going to watch either my sister-in-law’s or mother-in-law’s big dogs when my niece was to enter the world in the Fall. We wanted to meet both dogs and see how they interacted with Enzo & Lily, but we didn’t want to fall in love and have no space for them – especially if the house deal fell through and we were still at my mother-in-law’s looking for housing in the housing-crisis riddled county. And, Katie just started commutes to Portland.
So, we declined. It broke us for a couple days.
Turn the page to early November.
House purchased. New paint on the wall, mostly. Bought a miter saw to build shelving and finish unboxing. Niece was now a couple weeks old.
Sunday night, the sister-in-law tags Katie on a Facebook post comment from Tillamook Animal Aid (now Tillamook K-9 Rescue). Katie tagged me on the post comment. I read the post:
Of course his name is Otis. Because if you want to get my attention, name your need after Otis Redding.
Otis was born early November 2017.
He was from the litter of a dog named Flower, who most Tillamook County dog rescue enthusiasts know as being pregnant when she was attacked by a cougar.
The Tillamook County K9 Rescue, back when it was the Animal Aid, had a since-deleted page up called “Flower’s Fund.” Here’s how they described the attack, per the cached page I resurrected:“Flowers Fund is named in honor of our well-known dog, Flower, who came into our organization after suffering a severe Cougar attack. During the attack, one dog was killed, and Flower received devastating injuries to her backside, as well as severed her tail. During this attack, Flower was near full term pregnant with her third litter. The trauma from this attack sent Flower in to an early labor where over half of her puppies died. Four little puppies survived and flourished. She is our miracle girl. We hope to be able to continue to save these dogs be able to afford to provide them with everything they need including life saving surgeries like Flower’s.”
We played contact tag.
I talked to Tillamook K9 Rescue the next evening. Monday night, around 5:40pm. I tell them Katie commutes and just got to Tillamook. They said they don’t have set hours. I conference Katie in the call. We all agree to drive south of Tillamook to the center.
I get to the center around 6:30pm. By being in Tillamook at the time, Katie was 20 minutes closer to the center than I was. By the time I got to the center, she was playing outside with Otis.
I did a blink-double-take-love-at-first-site at Otis.
I’m screwed. I see Katie. She’s screwed.
I brought along Enzo & Lily as well as my sister-in-law’s rescue runt pit-mix, Aubrey, who we’ve been watching while my niece entered the world. The four dogs play around with Otis. Enzo was jealous. Lily was indignant. Aubrey and Otis instantly played together.
I’ve always been told that dogs don’t see size, but Otis immediately knew he could play with Aubrey, who’s slightly bigger than he.
They answered our forty million questions.
We were still hemming & hawing.
Then I asked about the sister dogs from the summer.
They were able to tell us that those sister dogs found homes, though separate homes. The outgoing sister got a home within a couple weeks. The more withdrawn one got one 3 weeks before our arrival.
‘Broke my back to hear those two got separated. Any reservation I had at this point was settled.
Around 7:30pm Katie and I agree to fill out the paperwork and take Otis on a trial adoption.
- Our kitchen cabinet doors were still off for painting
- We still have painting equipment scattered about the house
- My sister was flying in for her first visit to the Oregon Coast the next day
But, oftentimes, the situation is never perfect for anything you want.
We left the center around 8pm. I grabbed Burger King on the way back through Tillamook and up to Tillamook Bay.
Mind you, anyone who’s been out here would tell you that’s the only place for 50 miles to get Burger King.
In short, everything was perfect.
Nine days later, we filled out the main adoption paperwork and paid the fees. We started getting the vet records from Otis’ first family, who also sent over a collection of photos of Otis’ first year in the world.
We also got a litter breed report from a litter Flower conceived with another day.
Hate to say it, Big ‘O, but your mama gets’ ’round.
The sister-in-law loves her. The sister bonded with him. The mother-in-law is a fan. The friends love him. He’s starting to get playdates scheduled.
Enzo still hates him. Lily’s still indignant. Aubrey’s back with the sister-in-law & niece. Otis still runs from Calvin, the big dog across the back fence. It’s a work-in-progress.
Otis mostly spends his days with Katie in her work office in Portland.
He’s her protector. Katie and her office mates take him – and the other 5 office dogs – on walks in the city during breaks.
He’s only now noticing I exist, and that only means he’s really good at protecting Katie.
He’s slowly beginning to realize he has to share the food and space with Enzo & Lily. It’s causing the occasional timeout to the bathroom.
His new bed came in last night.
He’s learning that his new 12-lbs. brother and sister can’t play like him. Fortunately, we’re at the point where we only have to raise the muzzle and he stops thinking about play-toying Lily.
He is learning to snuggle with them. They’re already a flock of birds when they hear a noise.
Once he’s fully let aware they’re not his size, we’ll probably stop locking the crate at night.
He seems to have all the traits of a shepherd dog.
I need to take him on more walks. He’s in better shape than I. He kind of walks me, as they way it probably should be.
I still hear him squeak a little at night when he sleeps.
If it’s the same squeak Lily & Enzo make, then it’s a nightmare. I don’t hear them often, but on occasion. Given he’s gone from mother & center to a home, back to the center where he didn’t see his mother, and now here, all in his first 12 and a half months, I don’t blame him.
Best of all, he smiles a lot.
Incredible big shout out to Tillamook County K9 Rescue for the support and for taking the after-hours time with us.
Y’all let us come in after dark. Y’all answered our questions. And on a late Saturday night when we texted y’all in a panic about what to do after we discovered Aubrey jumped off our pile of clean sheets to reach the top of the closet where we stashed her toys, only to come away with an heirloom pig pin cushion once belonging to Katie’s great-grandma Valentine that Aubrey proceeded to rip into small threads, spilling about an until-then-unrealized cache of sewing pins, you talked us down and helped us through.
If y’all want to adopt a rescue dog from Tillamook County, y’all should check out Tillamook K9 rescue.
The cool part is that they seem to work with not only the other shelters in Tillamook County, but with shelters and animal centers on both sides of the mountains – going in as far as Portland. Y’all seem to go, “who has space,” and share the resources. Without y’all, not only do we not have a chance to find Otis, but he wouldn’t have had a chance to come into the world. We appreciate you.