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Soldiers' Animal Companions Fund

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Otis' Story

Otis’ soldier Bridie, first saw him in November of 2010. A convoy from her unit was driving through an Afghan town when they saw some children throwing a newborn puppy back and forth by his hind feet. The puppy was so young his eyes were still closed. They estimate he was about two weeks old.

The soldiers immediately stopped their trucks, and one opened the door and demanded that the child hand over the puppy.
Bridie’s boss brought him back to their base a few hours later and as Birdie says, “We all wondered, what now?”
He was so tiny they placed him in a box with a towel. The poor little guy was so small and weak he couldn’t even stand on his own paws. The Major started feeding him through a straw with shelf stable milk. He was given a bath to clean off the fleas, sand, and dirt, and he soon became the soldiers’ little buddy. Until they received dog food that people from home sent they gave him dry oatmeal and tuna.
He stayed in the Tactical Operations Center where they worked and became so playful he was sometimes a terror, but as Bridie says, he was “always uplifting.”
As he got stronger, and the soldiers’’ families sent real dog food and toys for him, Otis became much more active. He loved to run around the TOC and up on the chairs. Quite often people would find dusty paw prints on their seats and papers.
Bridie says,” It was great! He was just so sweet and such an amazing thing to look forward to seeing every day. I played with him the majority of the day, and even kept him on my lap while I was getting work done. My boss, MAJ Hutchinson, took good care of him as well, and loved and played with him too. He was our sidekick. He was a smart dog from the start.
He instantly knew when I was sad and he certainly provided comfort. As he got bigger, and still to this day, he did not understand that he was BIG! He still tried to squeeze himself into boxes that care packages came in. All day everyday he was in constant contact with the soldiers within the TOC and other companies, always played with, or scolded when needed. The center of attention and he LOVED it! Otis, needless to say, was extremely spoiled.”

When the time came for the soldiers to leave, someone from the unit was to take Otis home. But unfortunately it turned out that he wasn’t able to follow through on giving Otis the new life they all wanted for him.
Although Bridie couldn’t take him herself, she was determined to find a home for the dog they had all come to know and love.
Otis was transferred to the Nowzad shelter and Bridie contacted a former teacher she had had at West Point.
This teacher taught Geography at West Point where Bridie had been a Geography major and a player on the women’s tennis team. This teacher and his wife, also a tennis player, were very involved in athletics and grew close to Bridie over the three and a half years she was at the United States Military Academy. For them she was like a daughter, sister, and best friend. When it seemed Otis had nowhere to go, these were the people to whom Bridie turned.
As fate would have it, this couple had just lost their beloved Springer spaniel. They said they would be happy to give Otis a home.
Otis’ new “mother” writes, “He was a good dose of healing for me! He has been such a wonderful addition to our family. We've never had a dog quite like him) He's a mess! Very protective- which I love. Thinks he's a lapdog though he's huge!”
It’s a wonderful life for Otis, but he still remembers Bridie and whenever she comes to visit he’s more than happy to see her!
Bridie tells us,” Otis is the sweetest and luckiest dog ever. Every day was a joy being with him. I loved him so much. I am so thankful for everything he did – and he didn't even know it! Each time I see him at Ami's, I cannot get enough of him. He is still the playful, sweet, and very spoiled puppy I remember – who still thinks he is the size of a tiny puppy!”