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  • Princess (pictured above) was an 8 year old Shephard-Husky mix, and was beginning to show her age. She had beautiful eyes – one was half blue, and half brown-green, while the other was blue. She was a very powerful dog, but lately she seemed depressed, and moped around the house a lot. We thought she might need a companion.

    So, we picked up a 6-week old doberman pincher puppy at the local animal shelter. Mocha was a non-stop ball of energy. She definitely gave Princess a run for her money, constantly goading her to play. Princess kept Mocha in check while she was still learning the ropes on where to "go", and chewing on things. She kept her from getting too out of hand.

    One Friday evening, the dogs were playing in our large living room, running back and forth along the length of the room. Suddenly, Princess let out a blood-curdling yelp, stopped dead in her tracks, and just keeled over onto the floor. She was dead before she landed.

    I immediately leapt off the sofa and went to her carcass lying still on the floor, but she was not breathing and there was simply no life left in her. She had apparently had a sudden heart attack and died. So much for the value of a companion! Mocha had literally run her to death!

    We lived in a semi-rural area of South Jersey, on a lakefront lot, in which the soil was very sandy and easy to dig. I went out to the shed, where I had a couple of bags of lime stored, and began digging a grave for poor Princess. The lime was necessary to keep other critters away from the buried carcass, and would also help it to decompose quicker.

    So now we had this little ball of energy, and no older dog to keep her in check. She quickly began to get out of control. We were not home during the day, as we both worked, so we usually came home to something having been damaged, usually the corner of a table, the arm of a chair, or a toy that hadn’t been properly put up and out of harm’s way.

    Now we needed to find a companion for Mocha, perhaps an older dog to serve the role that Princess had previously served, keeping her in check until she’d learned the ins and outs of being a well-trained dog. Kathy’s sister Mary Ann had a friend who needed to find a home for his large, white Kuvasz.

    The dog’s name was Oliver. He was huge, with long flowing white hair, a head similar in size to a St. Bernard’s - he easily weighed 150 lbs. We went to the friend’s house to visit Oliver – he had run of the place, with a doggie door that he could come into and out of the house at will, into a large, fenced in yard. When his owner had to go out of town, he left Oliver at Doggie Day Care. Oliver was clearly used to the good life, and had been pampered for most of his 1 ½ years. His owner was just looking for a good family home for Oliver, and he liked us, so we took Oliver home.

    It was the beginning of a long weekend, so we were home with Oliver and Mocha for the first couple of days, and they were quite a pair together – this huge white dog and this tiny dobermain puppy. They really hit it off, and seemed to make great companions. We figured Oliver would be able to keep up with Mocha a little more easily than Princess had been able to.

    Then came our first day back to work, leaving the two dogs home alone for the day. We weren’t too concerned, as Oliver appeared to be well-trained, and Mocha could only do so much damage. With Oliver’s influence, we hoped that damage would be limited.

    I was the first to arrive home that day. As soon as I opened the front door, the stench overwhelmed me. Then, when I looked out over the utter destruction that had been wrought throughout our entire house, I quickly realized that rather than Oliver influencing Mocha, it had apparently gone the other way around. Mocha did whatever the hell she wanted, and Oliver must have figured “Hey, I guess the rules here are a lot different”, and so he, too, did whatever the hell he wanted.

    Every rug in the house had to be tossed – there was toilet paper and tissues everywhere, cushions from sofas strewn all about, the whole place was an utter pig stie. It was awful. The only thing to do was to just roll up the rugs, and toss them out.

    I lost my mind on the two dogs. I decided then and there that they were going to be outside dogs from now on. I built them a large pen in the yard, and banished them to the outside of the house. This got us into a lot of trouble with a neighbor two doors down whose husband worked nights and slept during the day. Oliver apparently was very vocal about his displeasure at now being banished to the outdoors all day, and he had a bark that boomed and carried. This experiment didn’t last long, as a result, and they were brought back indoors.

    Oliver had apparently learned his lesson after I'd lost my mind, and was a model dog from that point on. Mocha just got worse as she grew, and continued to chew on everything in sight, including the walls, so it wasn’t long before she found her way back to the animal shelter. We just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Meanwhile, Oliver settled in to being a wonderful, loving, and loved pet. Jonathon was just about 3 at the time, and Oliver reminded us of a character in a children’s movie whose name was “the luck dragon”. While he stayed out of trouble, I always felt sorry for Oliver, and sensed that he was sad, seeming to pine for the good life he had left behind when he came to live with us. This was probably all in my mind, but we certainly couldn’t provide him the kind of pampered life he’d known with his previous owner. He was such a large dog, I always left him two large bowls of water, wanting to be sure he didn’t get dehydrated.

    It was the week before Halloween, and Kathy had left a box of Betty Crocker cake mix out on the kitchen counter to remind herself to make halloween cupcakes for the Halloween party at Jonathon’s day care the next day. This shouldn’t have been a problem, as Oliver never bothered things up on the counters and had been a well-behaved dog ever since the infamous day of doggie house destruction.

    That evening, I picked Jonathon up at the day care center and we arrived home first. Oliver was usually right at the door when I got home, ready to go out and take care of business. He really missed that doggie door he used to have! This time, though, I thought it was strange that he was not there when I opened the door. Then, I saw him – laying on the floor, staring at the door. He was just laying there – not moving. As I approached him, I saw it - over on the love seat, the bottom third of the box of cake mix, and obvious signs around the room that he had had some problems.

    When I reached out to touch him, he was stiff as a board. He was gone, dead, and apparently had been for some time. It quickly became evident that he had gotten hold of the cake mix box, tore it open, eaten most of it, and it had either asphyxiated him, or had made him very thirsty, and when he started drinking the water, the cake mix in his stomach had expanded and killed him.

    Either way, it had to have been an awful way to die. I had a three year old who wasn’t going to be able to understand what was going on, so I put him in his room with some toys and told him to play and I would be back. I got a large white sheet and rolled Oliver up in it, and put him outside. I called Kathy to give her a heads-up so she wouldn’t freak out when she saw the strange looking shape in the sheet when she got home.

    Later on, after Kathy got home, I went out to the shed and got a couple of bags of lime, and began digging Oliver’s grave. With his size, this one had to be quite a bit longer, and deeper, than Princess’ had been. I worried what the neighbors must be thinking if they saw me digging away, especially as I dragged the sheet with the 150 lb dog wrapped up in it across the yard to the freshly dug grave.

    Once I had him lined up beside the grave, I figured the best way to get him in there was to pick up one end of the sheet, and just roll him out of it and into the grave. This is what I did. He rolled in feet first. Rigor mortis had set in, and his legs had stiffened, so he was standing up in his grave! This wouldn't do!

    Without even thinking, and half dead myself from the digging and the stress of the evening, I found myself saying, “Sit, Oliver, sit!”
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