Sunday, March 24th, 2019


Name: Otto Age: 15 Yr Sex: M

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Otto (2000 – 2015)

It is my sad duty to report that my fine boy, Otto, died this week. For the past two weeks Otto had been walking away
from his bowl without finishing his dinner, an alarming circumstance given his eating
habits. On Saturday he stopped eating completely. Although outwardly he did not change much, it was clear that his
fifteen and one half years of life were nearing the end as his systems began to fail. When there was no improvement by Monday I took him to the vet so we could bring his life to a peaceful end before he began to suffer.

Otto came into my life on, appropriately enough, April Fool’s Day of 2010. He had just turned ten, had
numerous scars, injured legs and a bad back which was probably the result of being hit by a car . The story I got was that his human had been placed into a nursing home by his children who had then put Otto in the pound. The pound called the Atlanta Weimaraner Club and they were able to save him. Although his life was now assured, just what type of
life that would be was in question. Otto had already had one unsuccessful adoption and after a few days with me I began to understand why. I had never heard of the term “separation anxiety” but I soon became an expert on cleaning up the results of it. Even though he was at home with Ludwig, and they got along fine, Otto went slightly nuts every time I left the house. The final straw was the night he climbed up onto the bathroom sink and tried to claw his way out the window. The sink broke
loose from the wall, the pipes ruptured, and that end of the house was flooded. For the rest of that fall and winter I took him
with me whenever I left the house. Fortunately he had no problem staying alone in the car. I turned the back of my SUV into a sort of doggie RV and for six months everything was fine. In the spring, the weather started to warm up and leaving him in the car was no longer an option.

At that time I was still managing the Activities Building at St. James and I started taking him into the office with me. He liked it
there and behaved when I had to leave him alone. Soon after, my job was expanded to include the entire church so I had to move my office into the main church office suite. I was allowed to bring Otto with me on a trial basis and it was soon apparent that Otto had now found his niche. In contrast to his wild behavior when left at home, around the office, Otto was calm and gentle. For the next four and one half years he was present whenever I was at work and was a pleasant addition
to the office staff. He greeted visitors, entertained children, comforted crying preschoolers, was visited by entire classes as part of their daily routine, and checked on each staff member by visiting their office every hour or so in case there were any treats to be had or lunches carelessly left on the desk.
Among his other activities were King of Mardi Gras, and leader of the Halloween parades during our Wednesday Night suppers, attending weekly staff meetings, vacuuming the Fellowship Hall after movie nights, guarding the check out table at the consignment sales, and holding court on the sidewalk outside the sanctuary as he greeted everyone as
they left church on Sunday mornings. By the time his life ended Otto had become a
staple of church life here at St. James.  I do not know what kind of life Otto had for his first ten years but I know that his
last five were wonderful both for him and the people he blessed with his presence.

I will miss Otto greatly just as I miss Wolfgang, Stephen, Duke, Winston, Jasper, Ludwig, and Kaiser who went before him. However, Otto will be missed by many others as well.  On his last Sunday it was announced that it would be his last day. He was too ill to perform his greeting duties, so there was a stream of people going out to the car to visit him. On Monday, I brought him in to work a final shift as preschool greeter and many of the preschool teachers came up to say goodbye to him. When it was time for him to take his leave for the final time, the office staff lined the hall to bid him farewell. Otto’s calm demeanor and regal bearing will be greatly missed but never forgotten as long as long as those of us who were blessed
with his presence are around to remember him.

Two things I would like to add. Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Chad Bishop and the staff at North Main Animal Hospital in Alpharetta. Chad cared for Otto starting with the first day I had him, and the special interest and custom care that he provided this old dog allowed Otto to enjoy every single good day that he had coming. For the last couple of years Otto had been receiving injections to help with his arthritis. Although a good patient to the end, Otto had grown resistant to going into the exam
room. So, for the last year, Otto’s medical treatments were administered on his own bed in the car. Such is the kind
of personal care that you get at a small establishment. When it came time for Otto to make his final journey he took the Valium prep calmly and put his head down and went quietly to sleep. I have no doubt that he thought he
was taking another nap in his RV just like he had done hundreds of times over the past five years. Also, a big thank you to
the staff of St. James United Methodist Church and the entire church family for letting Otto be a part of the church routine
here. While office dogs are common in vet practices and not unusual in small businesses, I am sure that there were some who wondered about the propriety of his presence. However, Otto’s winning personality, calm behavior, and dignified office manner soon won over even the most pessimistic people. Before long he had become such a part of life around here that people would ask about him if they did not see him in the office. A special thank you to Lori, our office administrator.
Last summer when I had to be hospitalized for four day periods for chemotherapy, Lori took Otto home with her and brought him in every day so he would not miss a day at work. St. James UMC, a great place to be.


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