Otto was a beautiful, kind soul of a dog. In all honesty, he was never meant to be. He was the result of poor breeding, inbreeding at that. He was rescued at 4 weeks old - if he had been left, he would have passed with the rest of his litter due to parvo. Instead, he spent a year with our family, terrorizing stuffed animals and chasing figments of his imagination. I think he knew that, though he had a lot of great things on Earth, he was meant for something more. Even as a young puppy, he had a distant, sad look in his eyes. Nothing anyone did would take it away. Nothing on this Earth could.
The perfection I saw in him did not save him from his problems - he was dog/dog and people aggressive. He had hurt other dogs, and snapped at people. Anywhere else, that was grounds for putting him down...my vet even advised it on more than one occasion. Being human, and being selfish, I thought living was in his best interest, of course.
I worked with training. He was very intelligent. He knew several signs in modified ASL that I taught him. His favorite things included kisses, Elmo, clean sheets and car rides. He didn't care whose car it was...if the door was open, or even a window, it was an open invitation for a ride.
I thought if the Vick dogs could be rehabilitated...and if other deaf dogs turned out fine...so would Otto. I was wrong. The older he got, the worse he got. If he didn't like something, he would grab your hand with his teeth and put pressure on it until he got you to stop whatever you were doing. He had to muzzled just to go to the vet...and I mean muzzled before he got out of the car. If any other dogs were around, he would try to attack them.
He would bark at us when we walked into the room or into the house. He would bark first, wag later. He was fine with strangers...as long as they came to HIS house. He would bash his head senselessly into the side of Axle's kennel, growling and barking because he wanted at him so bad. He would snap at the hands of strangers...and sometimes of familiar people.
When a vet told me I should put him down...I switched vets. Even the one I trusted the most told me it would be the best decision. I just wasn't ready for that.
I worked harder, tried harder, everything, but nothing worked. If you only had contact with him through Facebook, sure, he was the sweetest thing in the world. If you met him in person? You probably saw some of the behavior issues we talked about. I was videotaping Otto and Axle discovering a gopher turtle in the woods one day when it turned into a fight. It's graphic, and I won't post it, but it's there, plain as day. I knew my sister had a dog once that was a lot like Otto. Her dog made it to the point where she had to live outside in a kennel. She got out and killed another dog, and they had to make the decision then. Knowing that would be Otto's fate, I had to make the best decision, though it was the hardest one.
There was 101 great things about Otto, but his flaws were fatal ones. I couldn't bear to think of him hurting another dog, another person...even me. Sometimes, if you truly love something, you have to let it go.We laid his body to rest in the ground last night, his big white paws curled around Elmo, his eyes closed as though he was asleep. I know that if anything on this planet has a soul, it's a dog. They love unconditionally, forgive everything and are loyal to their last breath. I know Otto's soul is at peace now. He is having his first Christmas in paradise, and I know he couldn't be happier.