Ollie And Stanley

Although I’ve been a long time listener, I never dreamed I would be writing to Mark Levin’s Pet Corner. I grew up on a farm, where my parents operated a kennel, and I saw many dogs come and go. However, our family has been devastated by the death of two very special dogs in a tragic accident at our home. We are hoping it will relieve some of our incredible grief to document the joy and happiness those dogs brought to our lives.

Ollie was a Bernese Mountain Dog, and Stanley was a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Both weighed about 110 pounds, but Ollie looked rotund with all his hair, while Stanley was athletic and wiry, in comparison. Ollie had the friendliest possible disposition. He loved everybody. How I miss his standing hugs every time I came home! Stanley was more reserved but so incredibly huggable. He slept on our bed most nights. With all his fur, Ollie preferred to sleep on the cold tile floor or near a door crack in the winter.

We really loved these dogs, even though they were a lot of work. It took months to get them house broken – never quite made it. Stanley would still eat or chew up just about anything. In the most recent incident, he grabbed a package of .38 ammunition. Five shells were missing. We can only assume that he ate the bullets. He showed no signs of illness. They apparently passed through in short order. Why in the world would he eat bullets?

I took the dogs for walks frequently, almost every night during nicer weather. They just loved these walks. They knew the routine and got insanely euphoric when I started to put on their collars. Once I said “Let’s go”, they would be jumping all over me, knocking me down, as I tried to dress or put on their special collars before the walks. I especially enjoyed taking them to a gigantic field at a nearby college. I normally just let Ollie loose because he stayed near me and listened well. Stanley was another story. He would sometimes take off when I let him off the leash and run maybe a quarter mile or so before returning to me. On one winter walk, he ran to a road at the college. He started chasing a car, trying to jump up on the car – crazy dog! I tried to chase him down with Ollie running near me. The snow was pretty deep and had drifted over a huge ditch. If you can imagine the scene, I was almost to him when I sunk in a drift above my waist. I am sure the people in the car thought I was crazy. Another winter day, we were in the park nearly alone – one other car in the lot. I let Ollie roam while I fastened Stanley’s collar. I heard a woman shrieking. She was terrified of Ollie, who was just trying to say hi. He has the nicest disposition of any dog and loved everybody. It was hard for me to believe anyone would be afraid of him.

The dogs also loved to join me on runs or walks in a nearby park. These walks had to be on the leash because of other people and dogs. We had a routine. Stanley normally led, pulling me along, and Ollie stayed closer to my side. Of course, the leashes were a challenge. I had to keep them away from sign posts and other entangling hazards. Stanley was disappointed if I was not running that day. He ran like a deer and it seemed like I was never going fast enough for him. For a while, I tried to walk (run) him with the bike. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that was not going to work. He pulled the bike down a couple times chasing after an animal or stopping abruptly. In general, the dogs behaved better if I was running. They did not have enough time to stop and smell everything. Stanley wanted to attack any animal, especially any dogs. Actually, I don’t think he wanted to attack them; he just wanted to get at them. I doubt he would have harmed them if he got to them. Usually, he backed off or just smelled them, but their owners were often horrified by his size and seeming ferocity. In reality, he was a “scaredy cat”. A small yappy dog or even a squeak from a children’s toy would make him cower. I will summarize some other fond memories of the dogs.

• Getting ready for a trip to Columbus, we realized Stanley had been chewing on the seat belts in the van. He completely chewed through one of the belts!

• The dogs periodically got into the garbage. We fought a constant battle to make the cans inaccessible, but the dogs sometimes won. Ollie especially liked bread for some reason. Even if we threw out stale bread, we had to be careful that he didn’t get into it. There were many days that full loaves of bread vanished from seemingly inaccessible areas in the kitchen.

• Out of the blue, the dogs (probably Stanley) chewed the cover off one of my son’s text books. It was a book on computer networking. I had been using his book to study up on computer network design to help me in my current job overseeing our cyber security program. It is still useable. I just have to use the book with no front cover. It looks a little funny.

• The dogs destroyed several packages left on the driveway. The most memorable incident was when they chewed up our daughter’s new cellular phone. The cell phone was securely double packaged, but that provided little deterrence for them. We couldn’t figure out why delivery was taking so long. Then, we started to see phone packaging strewn around the front yard and eventually the chewed cell phone in their hidden lair. Luckily, they had not chewed any packages for months because most of our packages are now delivered to our neighbor’s house.

• The dogs used to eat our remote controls for a while. They ate the remotes for at least two different TVs. At the time, they seemed to like the unique remotes. In other words, they ate the more expensive ones to replace. As I told my wife many times, “We need to teach them to chew on the universal remotes — or none at all.”

• We spoiled our dogs with table scraps, but the dogs would eat virtually any people food dropped on the floor. They would even eat frozen vegetables and fruits that fell in their “eating area.” The dogs got surprised one day when some spicy cooked spinach dropped on the floor. They ate it and got a big surprise. They made the funniest yucky food faces as the spinach was gobbled up. They ever really tasted anything before eating it.

More than the special stories described above, we just miss seeing the dogs around the house. It was a surprise for us to learn that many neighbors and passers by also loved seeing the dogs and told us their fond memories. We assumed the neighbors were just troubled or bothered that the dogs occasionally escaped the invisible fence. Some of these memories are captured below:

• We have a pile of sand in the front yard, left over from construction projects. Both dogs loved to stand or lay on that pile and watch over the yard. Our neighbors would frequently talk to the dogs from their nearby driveway.

• Ollie would howl every time an emergency vehicle siren came near the house. Actually, he attempted to howl. He tried to hit too high a pitch, and the off key whine was hysterical.

• Both dogs would drink out of the pond in the back yard. Ollie would frequently drink right from the waterfall.

• Even though he slept a lot, Stanley was the watchdog. On a periodic basis, he dutifully monitored the windows for intruders and checked on every one in the house. During his down periods he loved to lay on the couch or loveseat. He was often seen lounging upside down enjoying his dog’s life. He seemed so peaceful and innocent during these periods. It was hard to imagine all the destruction he could wreak during his awake times.

Stanley and Ollie died several weeks ago, and the paralyzing grief and shock of their deaths are finally simmering down to a bearable level. It was tough to make the emotional decision to purchase a new dog, but our new Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy, Oscar, is definitely helping us get over our loss. We are now able to look at the many photos of Stanley and Ollie and retell the humorous episodes in their short lives.

We loved those Darn Dogs!!

— Mark from Elyria, OH