Master Teddy, a 9-year-old white Spitz, is in a dogfight in Montgomery County Circuit Court over whether he can live out his life in his $105,000 Silver Spring home as stipulated in the will of his mistress, the late Celeste V. Crawford.
Crawford, 77, who died Dec. 12, 1984, also stipulated in her will that Teddy be tended by her friend, George J. Schnabele, 71, a retired Montgomery County policeman who has rented her basement apartment since 1968.
Once Teddy dies, Schnabele would move out of the Crawford house, it would be sold and the proceeds divided among Crawford's heirs, the will said.
But the heirs, who include Crawford's five brothers and one sister, contend that there is no money to pay the taxes on the house and that it should be sold immediately, according to court documents.
"The family will take care of the dog," the heirs' attorney, Ralph Gordon, said yesterday.
Karl G. Feissner, the attorney for Teddy and Schnabele, said he isn't so sure.
". . . To sell the property prior to Teddy's demise would probably mean that Teddy would have to be disposed of," Feissner said in a petition filed Wednesday with the court. Feissner recommended in his petition that Gordon E. Tietz, the estate's personal representative, take out a loan on the property sufficient to pay the taxes, the creditors and the promissory note payments until Teddy dies and the property is sold.
Feissner's petition says, " . . . Teddy shall live where he is and stand as many monuments do to 'man's best friend.' Loyalty and love are what this will stands for -- it is what we should all stand for."
Tietz, the estate representative, has asked the court to instruct him on how to resolve the dilemma. A hearing has been set for May 15.
Papers filed by Crawford's heirs said they believe her will was "coerced and invalid." But the attorney who drew up the will, William P. Turner, a nephew of Schnabele, has angrily denied the charges in papers filed with the court. Turner said, "I strongly resent your implications of 'foul play.' Mrs. Crawford contacted me, explained her situation and was fully cognizant of her rights and desires."
Schnabele, meantime, said he is carrying out the provisions of the will as best he can, feeding and exercising Teddy and trying to keep him happy.
"I take him to the park every day," Schnabele said. "I give him fresh water in the morning and fresh water in the evening."
Schnabele said he also tries to satisfy Teddy's cravings for certain foods, such as hard-boiled eggs, hot dogs and lettuce, after checking with a veterinarian to make sure it was all right for Teddy to eat such things.
"He is crazy about lettuce," Schnabele said. "I bought 10 to 12 heads of lettuce for him and put them in the refrigerator for when he wants some."
Schnabele said he isn't sure what the life expectancy is for a dog like Teddy. "I have a friend with a poodle that lived to be 18 years old. I guess it is up to the good Lord. I may go before Teddy. But I hope he lives another six years, until he is 15."