The wrangling between PeopleSoft and Oracle has once again gone to the dogs.

Seventeen months ago, when Oracle's first hostile bid for its rival caused a bitter war of words to break out, the pet Labrador of PeopleSoft's then-head, Craig Conway, became a symbolic prop.

Conway said that Oracle's suggestion it would acquire PeopleSoft but ditch its products was like someone asking to buy your dog so they can haul it out back and shoot it. Oracle's unyielding head, Larry Ellison, fired back that if he had a gun and Conway in the same room, it wouldn’t be the dog he'd be aiming at - a quip that prompted Conway and his pooch to take the stage in bulletproof vests at PeopleSoft's user conference.

Yesterday, as the hours tick down to tomorrow's midnight deadline of Oracle's final final offer, dogs again became the focus of heated debate between Oracle and PeopleSoft executives.

In a presentation this week to shareholders, Oracle president Safra Catz drew attention to several stock sales over the past year by PeopleSoft's new CEO David Duffield. Catz suggested the PeopleSoft founder saw the company's shares being artificially inflated by investor speculation thanks to Oracle's bid and wanted to cash in.

Duffield released a letter written to Ellison to the media furiously dismissing Catz's implications in which he noted that all of the stock sales mentioned by Oracle except two were done, as reported in regulatory filings, through a pre-arranged trading plan over which Duffield has no control of the timing.

The two exceptions were sales made by Maddie's Fund, a Californian foundation that funds animal rescue and adoption programs. Duffield created Maddie's Fund and sits on its board, but he said in his letter that he is not a member of the finance committee that makes investment and stock sale decisions.

Maddie's Fund is named after a cherished Miniature Schnauzer Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, lived with for 10 years, before she died of cancer in 1997. Two years later, the Duffields created the foundation in her honor.

While growling at Oracle's tactics, Duffield took the opportunity to promote Maddie's Fund. "If there is a story here, it is about the great programs that Maddie's Fund has helped create to guarantee loving homes for healthy shelter dogs and cats throughout the country," he plugged in his letter to Ellison. "Here is a link to the Maddie's Fund website in case you are interested in learning about our good work."

Only after this heart-warming message did he then threaten to sue Oracle for defamation.