Erika said heads turned and cameras clicked when Otter, in her white tutu and matching flower, pranced down the aisle with the ring bearer and flower girl.
When the couple approached the Rev. Peter Jankowski, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Joliet, with the idea, Jankowski agreed Otter should participate in the Mates’ big day once he learned the couple’s reasoning for including her.
“I thought bringing the dog would be very appropriate,” Jankowski said, “so I figured out a way to be respectful to the church.”
Erika said Joseph lost both of his parents when he was a teen, his mother when he was 15 and his father when he was 17. Shortly after his father’s death, a friend who had owned Otter could no longer keep her. Would Joseph take her?
Joseph happily accepted the 3-month-old pup — unnamed at the time — and the two quickly became close friends. Otter had a fascination for swimming pools and resembled an otter when swimming, hence her name.
Through the years, Otter “attended” college with Joseph at the University of Florida and spent several months on the road with him when he explored the northwest United States. Otter has visited about 25 states so far, Joseph said.“She was great in the car,” Joseph said. “I lined the whole back seat with pillows and blankets and she just hung out.”
Joseph always knew Otter would be part of his wedding day. Erika understood his love for and devotion to Otter. She owns a pair of 2-year-old rescue cats, Pebbles and Duke. Pebbles and Otter are already good friends. Duke, Joseph said, is more of a loner.
When planning their wedding, Erika and Joseph researched reception venues and fell in love with the Patrick Haley Mansion. Once they booked it, they began searching for a Roman Catholic church that would welcome Otter.
Jankowski did, citing as the precedent for his decision how St. Francis, in 1223, assembled a live creche for his preaching to the people of Greccio, Italy, about the significance of Christmas.
I hate to be a stick-in-the-mud but…really? REALLY?
The mind boggles.