Courtney Ball

Crazy Dead Dog and Other Good Stories

Mosey’s “crazy dead dog” move.

The Ball family is not a stoic people. When a loved one dies, there are plenty of tears. But there is usually quite a bit of laughter mixed in too. Funerals tend to be big affairs with lots of food, time for play, and story-telling.

After Moses died last night, there was no large gathering or celebration of life. We did get phone calls and messages from friends, which was nice, but mostly it was just our sad family saying goodbye to a good friend.

That’s the way we planned it. It didn’t even occur to us to invite others over. Still, as I reflected on his passing, I found myself wishing I had the chance to sit around with some loved ones and remember funny stories about my dog.

So, I’ve decided to share some with you.

Mosey’s Killer Farts

Moses always had killer farts. Close friends who have spent time in our living room with Moses would attest to this. It was common to see Emmy and I watching TV at night with our shirts pulled up over our noses after we caught a whiff of one of his stink bombs.

The more relaxed he got, the more noxious his gas became. I remember thinking once, It smells like a skunk died in his bowels! I worried at times that they might actually make me sick.

One day I got on a web forum about raising dogs, and I happened upon a discussion thread where other owners described their dogs’ farts. Phrases like “room-clearing”, “green fog”, “tear-gas farts” were common. One guy wrote about how his dog would climb the stairs and let out a squeaky little cloud of death with each step. “Carpet bombing,” he called it.

I laughed so hard as I read, because those people understood! I was not alone in my struggle to love a stinky dog.

* * *

The week before we put Moses to sleep, we decided to give him a treat by grilling up a bunch of meat for him to enjoy during his last few days. He was so happy to eat something besides dog food, he greedily scarfed down every bit we gave him.

Unfortunately, this onslaught of tasty treats was too much for his digestive system. The night and morning before he died, he had frequent bouts of diarrhea. I felt so bad for him! What have I done to my poor, dying dog? That morning, I went out and bought some anti-diarrheal medicine for him, and by the afternoon, things seemed back to normal.

Later, when the doctor gave him the injection, he fell asleep comfortably and quickly. We were crying but grateful that he went so peacefully with his family close by. Anyssa, it turned out, was a little too close. She almost got some of Mosey’s final release on her leg.

It smelled so bad! “It’s appropriate,” Emmy said, laughing as she cried, “that he would stink us out one last time.”

Mosey’s Hospitality

Moses was an indoor dog, but when guests were over for a nice meal or a more serious visit, we learned to put him outside. Nothing kills a dinner party more quickly than the toxic fog wafting through the dining room.

The first time we had our friends Hannah and Greg over for dinner, Emmy went to a lot of work to prepare an excellent meal. We put Moses outside when it was time to eat, but after a while, he started crying loudly near the back door. (Until the last year or so, Moses was a huge crybaby. You could hear him howling from several blocks away.) That night, it was impossible to ignore, so finally I apologized and let him inside.

He went straight into the living room and proceeded to lick himself (imagine lots of moaning and heavy breathing). I yelled at him to stop, and he did for a while, but…well, he hadn’t gotten what he wanted out of that experience, so pretty soon he was back at it.

I dragged him back out, hoping he might finish his business in the privacy of the backyard. Instead, he started howling again. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I let him back in. Things were okay for a while, but apparently he had decided that the living room carpet was the only place he could comfortably please himself.

I was so embarrassed but couldn’t think of a solution! I ended up mumbling an apology (“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do. He’s just a dog.”) and tried to ignore him until he quieted down. Hannah and Greg handled it all very graciously.

Background Noise for Iowa Public Radio

One time a reporter from Iowa Public Radio interviewed me to talk about my neighborhood and an upcoming tax vote that might provide funding for Cedar Rapids’ flood protection.

She wanted to pick up background sounds as we walked down the sidewalk to take my daughter to school. Those who listened carefully to the interview that day would also have heard a repeating mournful cry from my dog Moses, who hated to see me walk down the sidewalk without him.

Crazy Dead Dog (Mosey Puts the Moves on Us)

Moses had two moves when he was trying to be cute.

Move #1: Crazy Dead Dog. While lying on the floor, he slowly struggled to twist and roll his ninety-pound body onto his back, all four legs in the air. Then he looked at us wide-eyed, mouth pulled back into a crazy grin with his tongue hanging out. He finished by wiggling his body a little more in order to wag his half-tail.

(Moses had a tail that was somehow half its natural length. It was like that when we got him. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m glad it did, because he was always completely unaware of how big he was. That tail would have been a destructive force.)

Move #2: Peek-a-boo. After playing a crazy dead dog, Moses rolled onto his side and covered his face with his paws. He did this repeatedly, looking to see if we would notice how cute he was.

Moses relied on a short but effective playbook. These were the only two moves he had, but they were pretty-much irresistible. If we were somehow able to keep ourselves from petting him after he put the moves on us, he was never above standing up to walk over and shove his face under someone’s arm in order to nudge a hand to the top of his head. Like all good dogs, he had a knack for making his people love him.

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Courtney Ball

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