Ghosts of Run A Muck Ranch: Stella and Otis

I have been going through old pics from various places and happened to find this one of Hector and his sister Stella.  Stella was Maude’s besty for 8 years before we lost her to soft tissue carcinoma.   We had so many pictures of Stella, I only wish the disc they were stored on hadn’t been destroyed so I could share them with you.


Of all of the misfits that have joined our family, Stella is the one who makes me smile the most, even now, 5 years after Heaven decided it needed her more.  The smile isn’t from any of her antics, no, she wasn’t that way.  It comes from feelings.  To me, “Stella” means every good emotion there can possibly be, increased 10 fold.

Stella was a deliberate kid at Run A Muck Ranch, an active pick from the pound.  I didn’t know until her adoption was being completed that she was e-listed for the next day.  Fate put me at MCACC  that day. I wasn’t looking for a Stella, but a Stella I found.

She came to us shy, emaciated, and full of ticks.   She had obviously been a street dog.  When I first saw her, I thought she was an older Great Dane mix puppy.  Turns out she was an adult boxer mix.   It was pretty apparent from the very beginning that the only thing she wanted in this world was love, and up until then, the world had let her down.

Stella’s was a heart of gold.  The few instances when children visited, it was clear she adored them.  She was kind and gentle to all dogs great and small.  She had no illusions of grandeur in the pecking order.  As long as she had a home to call her own, she didn’t care where she ranked, and as a result, it didn’t matter who came in, she was always at the bottom.   She and Maude were best friends, and she was the sweetheart of my Louie.  When I think of Stella, I think love, because that is all she was.

Stella never made demands.  Whatever she was given, she appreciated – really – Crabby and I both agree that Stella was the only kid that truly appreciated us and didn’t take us for granted.  Gracie is similar, but she can be manipulative at times.  Stella was always honest.

As far as vices, I can only remember one : When Stella got worked up when we weren’t home, she would eat the pillows and comforter on the bed.    She eventually left the comforters alone, but the pillows were always at risk.  It just occurred to me that even now, so long after Stella left us, we STILL put the pillows in the closet when we wake up so they don’t get eaten.  It doesn’t matter that none of the other kids have ever gotten the urge to destroy them.   It seems baby girl is still with us in that respect.

I also found this picture of Stella with her brother, my hero, Otis.


Otis was a ‘gift’ from my in-laws.  Translation:  Father in law bought him, Step-Mother In Law said, “No Pit bulls in my house!”  It was relatively close to Christmas, and now you know the rest of the story.

What you probably don’t know is that I used to come from New York.  I moved to AZ from Albany.  Back in Albany, punk kids used to bait their pits on any dog, leashed or not.  Dog fighting on street corners was not unheard of.  I believed the “deed” was innate to the breed.  In short, I was about as anti-pit bull as you could imagine.

But Crabby insisted, and Otis became our kid.  And now you know the rest of that story as well:  Sarah was brought into our home, an adult pit bull, history unknown. Slugger is my most loveable Idiot.  There will always be a pit bull at Run A Muck Ranch.  Otis showed me the error of my prior prejudice.  It takes a lot of torture to get the breed to do the ‘deed’.  But when raised as family, and taken out to see the world, and of course with a couch of their own, the breed is absolutely wonderful.

Otis left us when he was 13, having survived cancer for 4 years.  It wasn’t the cancer that took him, he just told us it was his time to go.

Rather than link  back to the original post where I shared Otis’ heroic deed, I’ll just re-post it.   This crumbling, yellowed newspaper clipping stayed on our refrigerator for more than 10 years.


otis 1

otis 2

I don’t know how you acknowledge the Creator or what you call him or her, but you can be assured that Stella is sitting right beside that entity, and his (or her) arm is around her.

As far as Otis, he gave up earthly couches when he was called away from us.  I am quite sure he is laying on a fluffy cloud, with a cool breeze blowing on him from below.

We are so very blessed to have had these two angels in our lives.  We are also blessed to have the memories.    The loss was very hard, but we couldn’t imagine existence without the lives that came before.

10 thoughts on “Ghosts of Run A Muck Ranch: Stella and Otis

  1. Great post. Wish I had known them both. Turns out we share more than blogging. NY. Plattsburgh. The real “upstate.” No wonder I like your attitude. 🙂

    1. Actually, I only moved here from Albany, I actually used to come from farther north. I may be dating myself – and possibly you as well… .but do you remember the day when the border security between NY and Canada would go home for the nite, put traffic cones across the road with a sign telling people to please replace the cones when they go through? T’was a different time back then…

    1. Somehow your comment got caught in spam Dalton! Sorry about that!

      They were and remain perfect, and WE were the lucky ones 🙂

  2. What a great post. You are so lucky to have so many wonderful dogs in your life. I have a couple of great ones that I bet are hanging out with Stella and Otis, waiting for the day when we are reunited.

    1. Stella and Otis were two of the more ‘well behaved’ ones. If yours happen to be mayhem seekers, they are probably hanging out with some of our other ghosts 🙂

  3. I was not fortunate enough to be able to spend much time with Otis, but in that short time he revealed himself to be a gentle giant. I will never forget the time he jumped into my lap, not realizing that he was not lap dog size. I really wish I could have spent more time with him. It was obvious that he was special

  4. And Sarah is no different. Just a little less gassy. You are incorrect by the way: Otis was indeed a lap dog. He just needed more lap than smaller dogs.

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