The Closet and the 300 lb Dog Part 1

I once lived in a room that was a closet.


It was about 8 feet long 4 feet wide and 10 feet tall. Even though it was technically a closet, the door locked from the inside, there was a window, a lightbulb, a light switch, and three shelves under the window.


There were 3 other roommates in the house: Derek, JC, and Alex. Derek was a punk rocker in a local band, JC liked classic rock like Led Zeppelin but wasn’t in a band, and Alex had a girlfriend so he didn’t need to be in a band.


They were already living together and I was looking for a place to stay. They had previously mentioned that the hall closet wasn’t being used for anything and that I could live there. I think they were joking but I took them up on the offer anyway. We decided I would live in the closet and just pay the utilities bill, which was about 90 bucks a month. It was a pretty sweet deal.


People liked to hang out in my room more than the rest of the house even though It was real small and you had to sit on a mattress. But it had a space heater in there. Plus, any time there was more than 1 person inside it would heat up pretty quick. It was really cold that winter in WI and nobody wanted to sit around our cold living room for very long, even if they were drinking booze.


In other words, after acclimating to the temperature in my room guests didn’t like to leave. Or maybe people wanted to hang out in my closet room because I was the coolest roommate. Probably both.


One time when Derek and Alex came home they found the house empty, except for me and 8 friends crammed in my closet room, drinking and having our own little party in there. It was odd to feel their slight envy of my situation, since they were the ones doing me a favor in letting me live there.


One night we finally all got drunk together outside of the closet my roommates included. They had some sort of principle against hanging out in their rented closet of their own house. However, my closet parties helped my housemates realize that we should have more people over and needed turn up the heat a little bit. They must have supposed that if people were willing to party in the closet, they would be willing to party in the house itself as well.


Continued in part 2…

The Closet and the 300 lb Dog Part 2

After a bunch of beers, Alex, JC, and I decided that it was time to steal some lawn decorations. I had recently seen some concrete wolves that would make a good addition to our living room; so, we went in search of them.  


We found way more than wolves at that abode. The house was across the street from a full service Citgo station. It had eight foot tall evergreens fencing in the garden of statues. It was like the ice Queen’s statue garden from Narnia. Luckily the wolves looked light enough to swipe. We took two. Unfortunately we weren’t done yet.


Further down that country road was a quaint house with a statue of a german shephard. This statue was much bigger than the wolf statues but we figured that the three of us could handle it. Unlike the hollow wolves, this statue was solid concrete, with a solid concrete base, and was probably about four and a half feet tall. I’m not great with guessing weight, but i’d wager that that dog was at least 300 lbs. It was obviously not meant to be moved without the help of a jack or dolly of some sort. (And even when I was able to use a dolly later on, it bent the dolly.)


If we hadn’t been intoxicated we would have thought better of our plan after we trying the initial lift. But we did no further thinking. We were able to lift it enough to drag the a corner of the base across the lawn. While lifting I felt like my belt had somehow stabbed into the side of my belly, According to my doctor I most likely weakened a spot in my abdomen and will maybe have a hernia there some day. But we managed to get it into the trunk of JC’s car and head back to the homestead.


Once there, Derrick and somebody else helped us get it up the stairs. It was not as bad carrying it when there were five people–but the same could be said for a piano. The next day I started to feel pretty bad about what we did. Especially because the dog had a hand print, signature, and (I think) the dog’s name on the bottom (we didn’t see that till later). So, it was likely made special for the owner, by someone they knew, in remembrance of a family dog that had died. That really made me feel like a douche. I knew I had a bad habit of stealing weird things when I was drunk. The sign from a chiropractic center, lawn chairs and paintings of fish from a retirement home, a Hardee’s sign. They all tended to be large and mostly useless items. I don’t drink anymore by the way and that’s a good thing for everybody.


Anyhow, I started feeling pretty bad about the whole thing. But there was no way I was going to be able to return it myself. I had to convince my roommates to help me. I was able to recruit my good friend and drummer of the band I was in to help me return the wolves. Scott was a good guy and understood that I did stupid things when I was drunk. Together we got those wolves back where they belong. But they obviously weren’t a personal as the dog. That’s the one I really felt bad about taking. And Scott and I were not going to be able to move that without at least 2 more people.


For the next couple nights my roommates were busy or just weren’t up to the arduous task. Then one night they got some beers and watched “The Warriors”. It’s a classic gang film. This got them pretty pumped about, well nothing really, and by the time I got home they had spray painted warriors graffiti on 2 of our doors and on the german shepherd. They put mardi gras beads around the dog’s neck as well.


The dog wasn’t a solid color statue like the wolves were. It had been painted with great detail and the hairs were carved into the concrete as well. Basically, I couldn’t imagine a way to get that red paint out or paint over it well enough. And that is when my last glimmer of hope to return the world’s heaviest german shepherd died.


When we moved out of the house the roommates did help move the dog, but only to the attic. It was only 5 stairs to get there and we just slid it as far as we could to the back and just left it there. Most likely it would eventually fall through the ceiling on a humid day and kill a family. But that’s not the end of the story.


The Closet and the 300 lb Dog Part 3

A few years later, upon realizing that my life sucked, I decided to repent and make restitution of all the things that I had done wrong in my life–as much as I was able. I remembered the dog that I had stolen. I wondered if it was still in that attic. I borrowed my dad’s dolly and drove my recently purchased minivan ($75) to that old house.


I tried the door. It was open. It looked like no one had lived there since we left. I let myself in and looked around. Oh the memories. Up in the dingy attic, almost all the way in the back stood the silhouette of a proud german shepherd just waiting to cause injury.


I got him on the dolly and tied him down. I’m not sure why I let myself do this by myself. My habit of not thinking things through didn’t go away when I quit drinking. But, I got him down the stairs and out the back door of the house without disaster, although I could see that the dolly has bent. I opened the sliding door of the van and I figured that I could tilt the dog against the van and just hoist and slide it in there on its side. Which I did. But as I did there was that knife in the belly again. This time real sharp. And with my limited medical knowledge I figured that I had given myself a hernia. (I hadn’t)


So I returned the dog and everything was great.

Not really. Not yet anyway.

The dog still had red spray paint with warriors tagged all over it. Back at my parent’s house my brother Ben helped me get it out of the van.

“You moved this by yourself? What were you thinking?”

I thought about the knife in my belly.

“Whenever you need to move this again you call me ok?”

I agreed.


Now I just needed to get the red paint off and finally get this dog out of my life. I didn’t want to use any chemicals because I figured that would remove the original paint as well. At first I tried to scrape it off with a flathead screwdriver. I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea. But I ended up chipping part of the nose. I figured that I would spackle that part later or something like that.


I decided that chipping wasn’t the best idea. So, I got my dad’s pressure washer out of the garage and started spraying. I assumed that the red paint would come off easier than the real paint and I was right. Although, I had to be really careful so as to not take off too much. I started on and around the nose that I had chipped. I watched as the pressurized water caught the lip of the chip I had created earlier, and caused the majority of the nose and snout to pop off and fall to the ground.


The noseless shepherd was hoisted back into by minivan and remained there for several months while I procrastinated finding a solution. Fast forward to me seeing a place from the highway that had hundreds of lawn decorations next to a barn.  On the side/ roof of that barn was painted in all capital letters: HEAVY CRITTERS. I called them up and asked if they could fix the dog and how much it would cost. They said they could fix it and that it would probably be $90. (They actually ended up doing it for free. They never said why. Probably because they are awesome.) But before they could start they needed a picture of the dog so they could make sure to get the repaint job correct. I didn’t want to tell them that I stole it so I just found a picture of a german shepherd on the internet that looked close, printed it out, and brought it there with the statue. I came back a week later (maybe, I don’t remember how long it took, this was like 12 years ago) and picked it up. It looked great. The nose was back, the paint was correct. And the time had now come to get that 300lb albatross out of my $75 dollar minivan.


I wrote a note to the owners. I don’t remember what it said. Probably stuff about being sorry for being an ass. We, Ben and I, put the dog in the owner’s front yard by the door. I put the note partially under the statue so there was no way it could blow away. My mom had advised me not to apologize in person. I think that was a good decision. I drove by the house the next day and the dog wasn’t there. I assume they brought it inside so safe keeping. Otherwise some other dumb drunk teenager and his roommates have stolen it and have started their own weird stupid journey with that heavy dog.


Here is some info from the webpage of HEAVY CRITTERS, the people that made the restitution part of my repentance process more possible.


Our Products and Services

HEAVY CRITTERS specializes in unique, exciting, and unusual items. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, our statuary is of the highest quality. HEAVY CRITTERS is known for its life-like wildlife items and its gorgeous airbrushed stepping-stones. Our products have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Country Women, Plow & Hearth, Country Sampler, and McCall’s magazines.


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