If Alan and Kathi Hiatt thought retirement would be dull and boring, it’s clear they had nothing to worry about. Brought up in Chico and Gridley, the Hiatts have become “dog people,” adopting a trio of Basset Hounds (Winchester, Abby, and Lucy) and one white, 45-pound, long-haired Australian Shepherd mix with quite a story.
“Odd Otis: An Unusual Tail (Tale) About An Unusual Dog” ($7.99 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle) intertwines chapters written by Alan with far more sensible chapters written by Kathi (as Alan will attest), with a Q&A Section at the end (and more at oddotis.com.)
Alan was tooling up the Skyway in his old Jeep when he spotted the dog “crisscrossing the double yellow line in the middle of the road” near a busy intersection. Alan turned around and was able to scoop him up, and then it happened. “I will never forget the instantaneous warm and powerful jolt that swept through me when this dog wrapped all four legs around my middle, laid his head on my shoulder, and then literally body-melted into my chest.” Otis, it turned out, had been blind and deaf since birth.
“Otis followed Alan everywhere he went and was constantly begging for lap time,” Kathi writes; “Alan, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to be in the same room with Otis without petting or doting on him.” He was smitten. Kathi created a “lost dog” poster and Alan reluctantly put it up around town.
Days later, a woman named Tina, the rightful owner, contacted the couple. But then, seeing the incredible bond that had formed, she graciously agreed that Otis should belong to the Hiatt household.
What follows are tales of new relationships formed (with Kathi and the Bassets); tossed popcorn nights (“only do this when the wife’s not home”); and great Otis yawns (“it does give me the opportunity to check out his teeth”). Told with humor and down-home charm, it’s the on-going story of a special needs dog and an encouragement to others to consider adopting. “Through him,” Kathi writes, “we have reinvented ourselves.”