ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt has never shied away from discussing serious topics on his show, “One Big Thing.” But his recent SportsCenter segment—a tribute to his late dog, Otis—is one of the most moving moments in television you’ll ever see.
On April 27, Van Pelt announced the passing of his 11-year-old dog, Otis. The pup has been a familiar figure to his viewers (and listeners, going back to his days doing radio shows).
“Crushed to share that we had to say goodbye to Otis The Dog,” he wrote on Twitter. “Truly the most special friendship and bond of my entire lifetime. He was an absolute King. Love on your good boys and good girls with all your might – every day that you can. There aren’t ever enough of them.”
Departing from the usual programming on “One Big Thing,” Van Pelt dedicated a special segment in his honor during the show’s April 28 episode. He wanted to let the world know just how much Otis meant to him and his family and what a good dog he was.
“Simply by his presence, he has been a joyous and loving constant every single day of our lives,” he said.
Van Pelt admitted that he didn’t fully understand the pain that dog owners go through after losing their pets until it happened to him.
“I’ve read countless moving tributes through the years about what your bonds meant and what made your dogs unique,” he said. I always felt badly for you but I had no idea honestly and I wish I didn’t know now.”
Van Pelt also shared the struggle involved in explaining Otis’ passing to his children, whom the dog has protected and showered with love since they were born.
“The simplest explanation I suppose, for any of this, is the truest. That the best part of this life is loving anything and you do it even knowing the hardest part which is that, somewhere in the equation, inevitably there will be loss, and the weight of this one is immense. Because he was the corner puzzle piece so much of what mattered to our family,” he said.
Trying to hold back his tears, Van Pelt described how Otis would always come running to greet him at night whenever he’d get home from work.
The pup would repeatedly nudge his knee, asking for some treats and love, which Van Pelt said he had plenty of.
The dog’s cheerful and loving presence brought him immense comfort, and now that Otis is gone, it’s one thing he’ll miss the most about him.
“After the show tonight, I’d rather drive all the way from DC to the Pacific Ocean, instead of taking a short ride home, where I’m going to sit in the dark waiting for my Otie boy,” Van Pelt said.
Toward the end, Van Pelt said that he was just “so happy that he was ours, and I’m so happy that we were his.”
“I stared into the eyes of Otis the dog and into his soul and I promised him again and again, ‘Yours is going to forever live in mine,’” he concluded.
ESPN recently uploaded Van Pelt’s emotional segment on its YouTube channel, and hundreds of people flocked to the comments to share their thoughts. Here are a few notable reactions.
“This pain is truly what I don’t wish on dog owners. A man’s true best friend, that’s something untouchable right there.”
“For some reason, it always hurts more when you lose a dog than it does when you lose a close friend or family member. Dogs just provide unconditional love. That doesn’t exist in people. I think that’s why it just hurts more.”
“Beautiful eulogy. Wish dogs lived longer. 10-15 years isn’t enough.”
Thank you, Scott Van Pelt, for putting into words what many dog owners think. I am lucky to have my dog, Luke, that has meant so much in the highs and lows. MUST WATCH.
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