let me tell you about my pet

Skai Jackson’s Dog Is a Person Trapped in a Dog’s Body

Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photos: Getty, Skai Jackson

Skai Jackson is an actor, activist, YouTuber, and author of the recently released Reach for the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback. She is also the owner of a sweet dog named Otis. Can she tell you about him?

On adopting Otis:
I was looking for a dog when I was around 9 or 10 years old. I’d just moved to L.A. and I was working on a lot called Hollywood Center Studios. One day, a dog adoption company came to the lot and were passing around flyers saying they’d have RVs the next week, full of adoptable dogs from a no-kill shelter. So I was really happy about that. There was a dog named Sam who was walking around with the owners while they were passing out flyers, and I wanted him at first. So I waited until the next week, when they came back, but by the time the next week came, Sam wasn’t up for adoption anymore. I think he got so much attention that he was adopted right away.

So I was really, really sad. I was crying. And we went into one of the RVs and we were petting and playing with the dogs, and I found Otis. And at first I was so hooked on Sam that I was like — No, I still want Sam! And they were like, “Well, Sam’s not available.” So I played with Otis, and he was really quiet, about 10 months old, and he was sick at the time. He was really sick. He had a bad cold. And they were like, well, you can take him home and see if he’s the right fit.

So, we took him home and he was definitely the right fit. He was perfect.

On Otis’s humanness: 
He’s very energetic when he’s around people. It seems like he’d rather be around people than other dogs — he kind of shies away from dogs. But he always wants to be around people, like he’s another person. So I kind of feel like Otis is a person trapped in a dog’s body.

He also understands everything that I say — like, even if we’re walking and I say, “No, not that way,” he’ll go the other way. Or if if I’m eating something … Otis has a very intense stare that he gives sometimes. And it can be a little weird if I’m eating. So I’m like, Okay Otis, stop staring, stop staring. He’ll turn the other way. And if I say like, All right, it’s time for bed now!, he’ll go to his bed. He’s very alert. He pretty much understands anything.

On Otis’s favorite activities:
Otis likes to go to the park. Where I live there’s a park down the street, and we’ll play a little bit. He doesn’t really like to play fetch or anything; he mainly likes to run around. He’s very energetic and his breed needs a lot of exercise. He is a terrier mix. Surprisingly, we did a DNA test and it said he was 50 percent chihuahua, which is kind of weird because he acts nothing like a chihuahua and he doesn’t really look like a chihuahua. But I guess, with the pointy ears … I see some similarities.

Photo: Skai Jackson

Other than that we like to hang out in my room and just have fun. If I’m watching a movie he’ll come and watch the movie with me. He loves movies. So it’s mainly either the park, or we’re just chilling in the bed, having fun, or running around the house.

On bringing Otis on set:
The first time I brought Otis on set after I adopted him is one of my favorite memories with him. Everyone loved him. He wasn’t a barker, and he still isn’t; he barely barks. So on set he would just chill, sit in someone’s lap, and people would play with him. Most people didn’t even realize that there was a dog there because he’s so quiet. But I loved when all of my cast members on Jessie got to meet him.

On the best thing about having Otis:
I never feel alone. He’s just my little buddy. And he’s been such a blessing in my life. He just helps me out a lot. I know that sounds weird, but he just puts me in a better mood; if I’m in a really bad mood he’ll brighten my day. I’m definitely so happy that I have him.

And for those who might want a dog:
If you want to get a dog, please adopt. I know a lot of people want these fancy breeds, but I think it’s better to adopt, because there are so many amazing dogs. They’re the ones that really need a home. And the dogs at shelters can be the sweetest dogs. I mean, if someone wants to buy a dog that’s their business, but I would definitely say — adopt, don’t shop.

Let Skai Jackson Tell You About Her Dog