The life of my dog, Otto von Bisbark
Gary Averett
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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Saturday I lost my buddy, a 8 year 11 month old English bulldog named Otto.
This is a little ode to him.

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1. Board Game: The Game of LIFE: It's A Dog's Life Edition [Average Rating:4.88 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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I was never really a dog person. My wife had large dogs and after we bought a house, her parent's St. Bernhard moved in with us. She was Gretchen. She stayed outside mostly. Gretchen and my wife had a good relationship, Gretchen and I didn't. I was nice to her, she was just definitely my wife's dog.

Gretchen's unexpected death was hard on my wife. We decided that we didn't want anymore dog's for a while.
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2. Board Game: Top Dog [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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Several years went by and we didn't have any children. My wife approached me and we discussed the option of getting a puppy. She had always rescued dogs and although they were all great companions, some of them had issues that were difficult in certain situations. She knew that I was not too keen about the idea, but I love her and was willing to make a sacrifice for her happiness. We decided to get a pure breed with the idea that we could "select" some traits that would fit into both of our lifestyles. I wanted to be sure that this new canine member of our family would get the care that it needed. My wife did a bunch of research and "English Bulldog" kept popping up.
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3. Board Game: Age of Bismarck: The Unifications of Italy and Germany 1859-1871 [Average Rating:5.55 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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After weighing the pro's and con's, we decided to get an English Bulldog. I was secretly happy that the breed has a pretty short lifespan.
We found a reputable breeder and went to go look at the last puppy of the current litter for sale. The last puppy was a 95% white male while all of his siblings were brindle so he was less desirable. We didn't care, we ran over to the bank, handed the breeder a discounted $900 and took our new puppy to the pet store to get some supplies.
We were filling his AKC paperwork out and decided to name him, "Otto Von Bisbark". The AKC accepted this and I felt pretty clever.

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4. Board Game: Stress [Average Rating:5.12 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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I was pretty overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility that a puppy requires. We enrolled him in puppy classes, socialized him at the dog park and trained him in the basic commands, he even learned "drool!" all by himself!
I also realized how sharp a puppy's teeth are and Otto loved to attack my feet and gnaw on them. It was a while before he grew out of that habit.

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5. Board Game: Dog Poop [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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One of the things that we were warned about was that English Bulldogs are flatulent due to their internal configuration. We laughed it off and thought that it was funny.
It was funny when on the first or second night at home, Otto farted so loudly that it seemed to stop time, he actually woke himself up and when he turned around to see/smell what was up he must have offended himself because he took off to find a "cleaner" place to sleep.

It quit being funny, we bought a HEPA filter.
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6. Board Game: Toot and Otto [Average Rating:5.16 Overall Rank:14717]
Gary Averett
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After we had Otto for a year, I had the great idea of getting "him" a companion and we brought home little Freydis, a female English Bulldog of "lesser" breeding. We named her after taking a trip to L'anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland to visit my wife's folks and to see the viking ruins. The trip was awesome by the way.
We actually considered getting a little boy bulldog and name him "Toot" but Freydis fit this little bulldog girl's personality even though she has her share of Toot in her as well.

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7. Board Game: That's Life! [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1639]
Gary Averett
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Life went on and we were pretty happy with our dogs, we did have our share of the expenses that are typical with the breed and a few extra. Freydis the troublemaker managed to find and drink some antifreeze. I got her to the vet soon enough and they managed to stop it from metabolizing. She was spared but our bank account wasn't.
Otto's big one was that he liked to nurse on pillows, he also liked to eat tree bark mulch. One day we came home to a very sick dog who was peeing, pooping AND vomiting all over the place, mostly in Freydis' kennel, much to her chagrin.
We took him to the vet and it was determined that some bark that he had ingested had become stuck in a large piece of stuffing from a pillow or one of our 1 year old's toy that he also consumed.
Otto required surgery, they also shortened his palate without our consent.
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8. Board Game: Special Delivery: A Baby Shower Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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I'm taking a step back here.
Our life was pretty good now. We decided to chance having a child. We stopped using birth control one time on our anniversary. We thought that we would let the universe decide if we were meant to have a child. We had our daughter 9 months later.
The birth was an emergency surgery. I was in danger of losing both my wife and unborn daughter. In the stress of things and having my priorities set, the dogs had been left alone for the whole evening and morning. I did think to put them in their kennels though.
When I had a few minutes to come home and get some supplies and take the dogs to the boarder, I thought to bring home the little knit cap that they put on newborns. I let the dogs outside to potty and placed the cap on the floor. When the dogs returned, they were pretty excited about the cap. They also new that there was a new pack member and I let them know that she was alpha. They got it on their own, I joke that Otto was a better dad than I am.
For the 2-1/2" years that Otto knew my daughter, he would let her get away with anything including eye and butt-hole gouging which seemed to make my wife and I more upset that Otto, he did seem relieved when we stopped her.
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9. Board Game: Fate of Heroes [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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About a year after the surgery for Otto's "stick and fluff" surgery his fur hadn't grown back. Otto started being incontinent and couldn't go more than a few hours without peeing. He was also drinking 1/2 to a gallon of water several times a day.
The palate shortening seemed to make things worse for him, he developed a wheeze that he never lost. It may be unrelated. He also had shortness of breath.
We spent a lot of time and money attempting to diagnose his condition from the obvious diabetes to a more obscure version called diabetes insipidus. The vet prescribed us some hormones and they seemed to work, for a short while. one of the random vets that looked at him thought that it may be Cushing's disease. We did some research and felt pretty sure that it was. There is no safe cure and Otto is 8 years old at this point. We decide to simply treat the symptoms. Our finances were pretty low at this point.
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10. Board Game: Zombies!!! 4: The End... [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:3282] [Average Rating:6.17 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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As the disease progressed, Otto started resembling a zombie. Most of his fur had fallen out when the follicles died, leaving bloody furry scabs everywhere. He went from around 70 lbs. to 46 lbs. or so. You could see his spine even though his stomach was distended. Did I mention that he smelled like rotting flesh?
Last Saturday, my wife was bathing him and he fell while standing in the tub. The water quickly turned a morbid dark pink as the scabs dissolved. She discovered a very large number of maggots feeding on the scabby parts. After some vomiting, which my wife is not prone to, she removed what she thought was all of the maggots. We spent an hour or so bleaching the tub and smashing maggots. It sucked.

I called the vet to make an appointment to have him put to sleep.

I cried

a lot
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11. Board Game: End of Days [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Gary Averett
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When we got to the vet, the doctor wanted to see Otto. He is an old U.S. Marine. He was a veterinarian in the Corps. He has treated a lot of bulldogs.
He took one look at Otto and gasped, after an examination, he told us that we were doing the right thing. His time had come.
The Doctor bent 5 needles on Otto. After attempting to get a vein in his hind legs, he gets a needle that looks like it is I.V. sized and does the deed.
Otto fought it, He kept his head up high until he just couldn't anymore when he finally rested his big ole head in my wife's arms. A couple of seconds later the vet pronounced him dead. The vet was pretty choked up and I detected that he was about to cry. He declared that in his many year of doing his job, he had never experienced a dog as tough and stubborn as Otto. As I fought back tears, I joked that we should re-name him "Chesty". The old Marine doctor chuckled.

I have come a long way from wishing a short lifespan on him. I am a changed man.


My daughter has been pretty good about it (she was at a friends while we were at the vet's). She has been asking a few hard questions and some sad ones like, "Why isn't Otto coming in the house?" and, "Where is Otto's food?".
My wife and I are doing as well as one can in this situation. Freydis has taken it quite hard. I hope that she gets her appetite back and starts being playful again soon. She has been getting a lot of attention since.

Thanks for reading my little story, it has helped to write the journey out.

edit: I later found out that the Veterinarian was a U.S. Army veterinarian. He loved and respected the Marine Corps, and did work on a lot of bulldogs. I can't be entirely sure if he worked with the Marines. He spoke a lot about the Marines during the time that he was in the service. I incorrectly thought that he was a Marine.

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