Meridian Star

January 11, 2013

Otis Earle – the neighborhood dog ...

By Anne McKee / guest columnist
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —    You might ask – what is a neighborhood dog? In our case, the neighborhood dog is an opportunity to enjoy the company of a sweet, sweet puppy, without the expense of dog food and vet bills.

    Quickly, I must say, we would pay, if the pup had a need, but you see he has a home. He visits our neighborhood only a couple of times during the month. You know just long enough for a pat on the head and a meaningful conversation. Yes, we do engage in thought provoking and stimulating debate with the canine, somewhat, or so it has seemed.

    Oh, Otis Earle is one of those pups that you feel you’ve known forever. He is a Red Blood Hound (notice I used caps because he is so special), probably registered, not that it matters. I shall never forget the first time he stopped by to say, “Hello.” He hobbled up our drive and we knew he was on a mission. It was a warm day and he stopped to rest under our largest pine tree — close enough to hear our conversation.

    His bony tail wagged gently in a figure eight circulation as he gazed our way, with a gentle look in his brown eyes. He sat there with his front legs crossed and a pleasant look upon his face. He wasn’t aggressive at all but friendly and pleasant. We didn’t know it at the time, but Otis Earle had entered our world and our life would be better because of him.

    I mentioned his hobble, and, yes, we were concerned. He didn’t seem to be in pain, but yet – his flunky gait was not normal. We noticed a name tag on his collar and he allowed us to see the words, Otis Earl, and a phone number. My husband called “Mr. Earle” to ask if he owned a friendly Red Blood Hound and if we could bring him home.

    As it turned out, Otis Earle was the dog’s name. His owner said, “Oh, he’s fine. He’ll come home after-a-while.” So, Otis Earle stayed with us that first time for about two hours. He just sat around with us, like an old friend.

    During the phone call, my husband asked about the hobble. The owner explained that Otis Earle had suffered a hit-and-run a few years back — that he had surgery on his hip, which resulted in the hobble, nothing to worry about, he said, but we did worry, because you see, the pup was now our friend.

    I suppose we enjoy Otis Earle’s company because he made us think of our Coon Dog (there’s those caps, again), named Hi-Ball. Dear, dear Hi-Ball didn’t have too much in the looks department (like Otis Earle), but his joyfulness made up for it. Actually, Hi-Ball became one of the most beautiful pets we’ve ever had the privilege to include in our family. We had him for 13 years and we still miss his big brown eyes and bony, wag, wagging tail.

    It was earlier this week, when I noticed the announcement of the children’s play, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” (upcoming date — Feb. 12) at the MSU/Riley Center, that I thought of Otis Earle and Hi-Ball. You could say that all three pups are big, lovable, and gentle souls. Something about the gentle giants of the canine world continues to be appealing for all ages. I hope to attend the presentation and enjoy “Clifford” as well, and, no, I’m not too old. So there!

    In the human world, it would be nice to encounter more of the Otis Earle and Hi-Ball types. Oh, there are a few out there. Yes, just a few, but humans get all entangled with silly things that take away the true sweetness of the gentle and giant pups of the world.

    A few favorite dog quotes (things I wish I had written):

    • “I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. … My goal in life is be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.”  

— George Eliot

    • “Dogs never bite me. Just humans.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

    • “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

— Mark Twain

    • “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”  

— Woodrow Wilson

    • “The more boys I meet the more I love my dog.”  

— Carrie Underwood

    • “You call to a dog and a dog will break its neck to get to you. Dogs just want to please. Call to a cat and its attitude is, ‘What’s in it for me?’”  

— Lewis Grizzard

    So today, let us celebrate Otis Earle and Hi-Ball, and, yes, Clifford the Big Red Dog as well, and let us think of this ole world without our canine friends. I’m sure you agree it would be a dreary and dull place without them.

    Can we even imagine a dog-free-life? Really? I don’t think so … give your dog a hug today, because he or she already loves you, and you want to go to Heaven with them, don’t you?

    One more thing … George and Gracie, my solid white, twin kitties are a might upset. You see they did not know Lewis Grizzard, and, well, the two fuzzy ones want you to know they do not always have the attitude, “What’s in it for me?” Not every time, that is …

    Love your pets – they are the best friends you will ever have, and if you are lucky, Otis Earle will come by one day for a visit.


    Anne B. McKee is a writer and storyteller. See her website at