DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) — He sticks close by when the two go for walks. He alerts his companion when strangers are coming. Sometimes, he even helps him find food and water.
Otis is no ordinary guide dog, though: His partner, Bandit, is a Shih Tzu.
Together, the dogs are settling into a new home after Chester Workman and his girlfriend adopted them this week from the Humane Society of Delaware County.
“I was going to adopt them myself,” said Heidi Myers, the shelter director.
“I’m happy that they found another home.”
Workman and his girlfriend, Kay Powelson, are glad, too.
With their three-bedroom home not far from the shelter, Workman often stops by to see the dogs and donate food.
The couple decided to adopt Otis and Bandit after Workman met them ealier this month.
“(Bandit) looked up at me in the cage and couldn’t see me,” he recalled. “It just hit me. I said, ‘You’re coming home.’”
The middle-aged Otis and Bandit have been together their whole lives, said Carol Girberd, grant coordinator at the society.
The dogs landed at the shelter last month after their previous owner moved into a nursing home, but shelter officials said they know little else about their past.
How long Bandit has been blind is unclear.
He arrived at the society unable to see, his eyes dry and irritated.
“After consulting with two different vets,” Girberd said, “the decision was made to remove his eyes to ease the pain.”
Bandit seems pain-free now, with fur growing over his eye area.
“He looks like he’s looking up at you,” Workman said.
Before he and Powelson adopted Otis and Bandit, a sign on the dogs’ cage had read: “We can’t bear to be apart and must be adopted together. Please consider making us a part of your family!”
On a recent evening, Workman and Powelson took their two other dogs — a West Highland white terrier named Shoelace and another Shih Tzu named Heavenly — to meet Otis and Bandit.
All four dogs sniffed one another and approved.
Now, they lie together and play together.
“You can sit down and watch four tails and eight eyes,” said Workman, pausing to correct himself: