Otto has been a member of our little family for just 5 months now but, like most families of rescues will tell you, it’s hard to imagine life before him. I pestered Ryan for ages until he agreed that yes, we could start volunteering and looking for the right dog for us.
A good friend of mine lives close to Sean Casey Animal Rescue and suggested that we go visit theirdogs and just take someone for a walk. On the first warm weekend last Spring, we showed up and were asked if we like big dogs? Yes. And are okay to walk a “puller”? Yes. And so, off we went with Tyke (now Otto – re-named to honor his breed heritage) into Prospect Park where he walked so nicely – seriously, so nicely! – for a dog that didn’t get much walk action. He kept just a few paces ahead but looked back to check on us every so often and made his way right down to the pond, stopped, laid down in the mud, and just grinned. We fell in love right then, joked about naming him Pond Scum, and continued on with our walk. We ended up going back to the shelter the next day to ask more questions about his past – he’d been a stray in Arkansas as a puppy, had made it to NY as part of a rescue mission, but then spent the next 8 months at SCAR as a favorite of the volunteers but with no promise of a family.
As is so often the case with breeds perceived as aggressive, being a German Shepard and potentially Rottweiler mix didn’t make him the most popular guy in the shelter but it literally took 5 seconds of looking into his eyes to realize he’s 100% lover. I couldn’t, and still can’t, believe he had never had a home before as he adjusted to ours so easily. He met our friends – and much of the neighborhood – while grabbing a celebratory outdoor beer our first night together and charmed everyone, humans and animals alike, instantly.
Despite gaining 15 pounds of muscle within the first month and topping out at a hearty 75 pounds, he’s never happier than squeezed between us on the couch watching TV, head nuzzled into one of us as far as it can go. Every song now has Otto’s name inserted into it somewhere and he lives to have his belly rubbed as Ryan sings him lullabies. He continues to make himself at home with us, revealing more of his weirdo personality daily – most recently in the form of baby dinosaur sounds which we’re still trying to translate.
He patiently wags his tale and smiles as neighborhood kids bonk him on the head & crack up at the “mask” it looks like he’s wearing. We recently ran into a volunteer from Sean Casey just around the corner from where we live who recognized Otto and commented how amazingly calm and happy he seemed which was just really, really rewarding.
Our aim was always to give our little man a better life and we hope we have, but he’s absolutely given us just as much sloppy, slobbery love, if not more, and we couldn’t be happier to know him.