Today was a strange step for me — Some of my childhood left while I look forward to the unknown that lies ahead. I made the decision to put my old dog down today. Oliver Arnold Shivers as he was lovingly dubbed back in the fall of ’96. Oliver because I liked the name, Arnold because he had wide shoulders like Arnold Schwartzeneger and Shivers because he was always so cold as a pup. He was born on September 6, 1996 and this new puppy was to be my very own dog. He was supposed to be a full blooded boxer but a few weeks of growth revealed that his boxer mama “Princess” had jumped the fence and mingled with a neighbor dog “Jack.” The lady that had bred the dogs asked me if I still wanted Oliver, though he wasn’t full bred and of course I said, “YES!” Bringing him home was one of the happiest days of my life… He cried and howled all the way home in the car and when I carried him in the door my dad greeted us and said hello to Ollie. Oliver turned his face away and looked at dad out of the corner of his eye as if he didn’t like to talk to strangers. I immediately put him in the bath to give him a good washing because the place he had come from wasn’t exactly the cleanest. He cried and howled the whole time then shivered and shivered. My mom made up a quick sweater out of an old wool hiking sock and that soon became his “Harvard sweater.” Little did we know how much this little pup would impact our lives. He was always loud, always smarter than most people I know, and always the leader of the pack. He had his own way of doing things and was the most difficult puppy and most hard headed dog I’ve ever known.
He was very stubborn about being potty trained and wasn’t fully trained until he was eight months old! He earned the nickname “Doo Doo” at that time in his life and it stuck of course. He also found that killing the neighbor’s chickens was a thrill and I had threatened many times to escape to Canada with him because the law was after him. I know there had been many near deaths by the shot of a gun and some how he had always gotten away — though was deathly afraid of guns to his dying day.
There was always a spark in Ollie’s eyes though and a smile on his face. He chased his tail, grabbed my foot while I walked and barked incessantly, a couple of his favorite past times were car rides and backpacking trips. Every where I went, so did Oliver. We were attached at the hip and he even slept on my bed at night and farted in my face (though I could have done without that.) Whenever we’d be playing a game of fetch he’d out-bully all the other dogs by yelling at them as he ran so they’d all be intimidated and let him nab the ball. Then, of course, you’d have to go track him down to force the ball out of his mouth before you could resume the game.
One of Ollie’s biggest claims to fame was his ability to kill ground squirrels. I believe there is no other dog that could do that task as effectively as he could. There were many times he’d catch them and kill them within the twinkle of an eye and of course with a big smile on his face afterward. He’d toss the squirrel up in to the air and bark in victory. And through all of his orneriness and all the trials that came along with having him, I can’t imagine loving any other dog the way I loved him. He was and is always Saint Oliver to me.
Here’s our last picture together, almost 14 years together which makes up almost half of my life (turned 30 this past Sunday.) And while this chapter has ended I know many new ones are just beginning. I love you Oliver and may you have a peaceful trip over the Rainbow Bridge.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Oliver Arnold Shivers
09/06/96 – 08/18/10