It was the cap that he was most concerned with.

He had dealt with them before.

It seemed to him that the caps were made specifically to keep him from eating what was in the bottles. For Dudley, that was hard to accept.

He had spent his life doing exactly as he pleased,and the idea that he could be thwarted in his endeavors was foreign to him.

And even though the caps were difficult, he had managed more than once to overcome them.

Not having thumbs made holding a bottle arduous, but Dudley had still managed to master the task.

“If worse comes to worse,” he thought, “I will chew through the bottle.”

Dudley’s abilities with his mouth more than made up for his lack of thumbs, and he had planned it so that he had several uninterrupted hours in which to work.

Dudley had also studied the art of escape…..or rather he had watched a TV documentary on Harry Houdini when he was a pup.

He paid special attention to Houdini’s incredible dexterity.

The master of escape could conceal a piece of wire in his mouth and then use it to unlock the handcuffs someone in the audience had placed on him.

He was also good at using his toes to grasp things and accomplish his feats.

Dudley had been mesmerized and had vowed from that day forward that to he would someday be the dog world’s version of Harry Houdini.

So, although opening the bottle was formidable, he anticipated it with a smile of self-confidence.

Dudley approached Maggie who was sleeping on the floor.

“ Tonight is the night. When they go to sleep I will get the Rimadyl” he said.

“I know exactly where they keep it."

Maggie wagged her tail, but otherwise remained motionless.

“I’m ready,” she told herself, then went back to sleep.

Years before Maggie had read Shakespeare.

She thought it would show the others that she was refined and cultured.

She had long felt inferior to the others and at that point in her life she wanted to better herself.

Reading Shakespeare was much harder than she anticipated.

All that she had really gotten from 6 months of effort was the idea that “everybody dies in the last act.”

While the thought of this made her very sad, she found something new to pursue which really cheered her up.........rhumba.

Rhumba lessons, she had concluded, would make the men around her take notice. And she always felt sophisticated when she was dancing.

Shakespeare was quickly forgotten.

Then too, rhumba was to be replaced by flying lessons.

French cooking, tantric yoga, go-cart racing, and a number of other pursuits soon followed.

In fact, Maggie seized upon one activity or another her whole life in an attempt to overcome her feelings of low self worth.

Nothing had really worked until finally she took up eating and sleeping.

“This is what I was meant to do” Maggie had announced to the world.

“I feel truly alive when I eat, then lay down for a nap.”

But now that she was going to follow her beloved Dudley into that sleep from which no one is to awake, Maggie thought back to when she had first read Shakespeare.

“I know he said something about this.” She thought.

“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.”

The words came floating up from the recesses of Maggie’s brain. “If Shakespeare said that death was like sleep, it must be true.” She thought. “No one is smarter than Shakespeare. “

And as she went to sleep Maggie was comforted that she would get to do one of the things she loved most.....sleep.

“And I will dream too, I wonder what I will dream about?”

“Why eating, of course” came the answer.

Dudley saw that she had fallen back to sleep, but for good measure, he went up to her and pressed his wet nose against her side.

He thought that he must show some affection every once in a while or she might get wise to him.

His nose touched a large fatty tumor.

“All Labradors get fatty tumors,” she had said when he first noticed them.

But still it disgusted him.

Instinctively she chose that moment to pass gas. But Dudley was too engrossed in what he was about to do to notice.

It was past 10:00 and time to go to work.

Dudley slowly and quietly stole into the kitchen.

On the counter stood the nearly full bottle of Rimadyl.

Dudley knew very little about the stuff.

He only knew that it was tasty, it was given to old dogs, and if you ate enough of it you would die.

It was perfect for what he had planned.

The counter would present no problems.

Dudley had long ago learned to leap up on it when no one was looking.

Since he had grown tall enough, his trips to the counter had yielded 2 pork chops, a turkey leg and three chicken salad sandwiches among other things.

“This has certainly been a good counter,” Dudley thought as he grabbed the bottle of Rimadyl in his dexterous mouth.

He proudly brought the bottle into the living room.

As he did so a vision swept over him.

He could see himself on a stage in a huge theatre, the spotlight shining brightly on him.

He was astounding a large audience with his incredible abilities.

“I really need a good stage name,” he thought.

Maggie slept soundly in the next room and Angel was nowhere in sight. Dudley placed the bottle on the carpet so that it would not make any noise when he was wrestling it open.

“This is where she will die,” Dudley thought, with a shudder.

It surprised him that he should have such a strong emotional reaction to a thought about Maggie’s deaths, and he quickly forced himself to think of Angel.

Angel was every bit as old as Maggie.

But somehow Maggie’s advancing years vexed him much more than Angel's.

“I hope I don’t get sick of her too,” he thought.

Dudley focused once again on his work.

Suddenly with only a small nudge from his paw the cap was off and the bottle poured forth its contents.

A large pile of pills now stood on the carpet, exactly in the spot where he had said Maggie would die.

“They didn’t even close the Rimadyl,” Dudley said out loud “ people are such fools.”

Dudley took a small bite of one of the pills.

“Its poison….. so why does it taste so good?” he thought.

He knew that a small amount would not hurt him.

“ Now all I need to do is count out the pills and give Maggie most of them.”

Just then a newly awakened Maggie walked into the living room.

She looked first at the bottle and the pills on the carpet.

She then looked at her beloved Dudley.

“ We have to do it. It’s the only way.” Dudley told her once again.

Exactly why they had to do it, he had never said.

But repeating this phrase over and over…..with pain in his voice, and a sad look on his face, was all it took to win Maggie over.

“Its almost too easy.” He had said to himself as Maggie came within his thrall.

As Maggie surveyed the scene she remembered her thoughts of Shakespeare aright before she nodded off to sleep.

The words of Shakespeare again flooded over her.

She also felt a wave of love for Dudley and a peculiar sense of sadness about her life.

“Why did it take so long for me to find my calling?” she said out loud.

Dudley just looked at her, trying not to smile.

“It will all be over soon........ look, I just tasted one,” he said.

Maggie followed suit and took a bite.

“Why I had forgotten how good they taste!” she said excitedly.

And with each bite she took, she ate a little faster.

All thoughts of Shakespeare were soon forgotten.

Maggie was at last following her bliss.

to be continued