Heart and soul of a dachshund

Column by Craig Marshall Smith


Are you in a bad mood? Take one dachshund and call me in the morning. It's impossible to look at a real dachshund or a photograph of one and not feel better. Go ahead. Google “dachshund” and you will see what I mean.

They weren't designed, yes designed, to lift your spirits. They were designed to track badgers. I suppose a standard-sized dachshund would stand a chance, but a small standard, like Smitty, or a miniature, would be torn to shreds.

I think Smitty would have a 50-50 chance of whipping a box of Wheat Thins.

If you're planning to buy or adopt a dachshund, do your research first. Some of them can be nippy, and some of them will only focus on one member of the family.

Smitty is here in the room with me, so I have to be careful about what I say. I will sneak in a subliminal message. Dachshunds are German-engineered, the word “dachshund” means “badger hound,” (they are very, very funny looking), and they like to burrow under blankets.

Don't go calling them wiener dogs around me. Hardy har har. How would you like to be called “crab man” or “crab woman” just because you resembled one? Or “chameleon boy” just because you changed colors now and then? You wouldn't.

If you look into the eyes of a dachshund, you are looking into the heart and soul of life. I know I tumbled overboard the first time I saw Smitty's cognac-colored eyes.

He begged to be adored and I lost control, the way a fool would do.

I have a good friend who has a dog that doesn't look like a dog. She sends pictures and I have nightmares. It weighs 124 pounds. That's 8 pounds more than Jennifer, my girlfriend, weighs. And it's 108 pounds more than Smitty weighs. Think about it. The amount of food. The amount of poop. I want a lap dog, not Smokey the Bear.

Another good friend just went through a nasty divorce, and custody of the dog was big. I actually think there was more contention over Scrapple than there was over the children. Dogs will do that to you. It's been said over and over that dogs don't know or care if you have had a bad day. They are here to make your day better no matter what.

I am on my third dachshund. My childhood dachshund, Hexe, was an antidote for just about everything from the anxieties of growing up, to the Wrath of Shirley. My mother made some days very difficult. If you know what an anal retentive is, mom was varsity, first team, All American, Hall of Fame. She lettered all four years that I was in high school.

Hexe snuggled. Shirley scolded. Hexe snuggled.

No matter what anyone says, no one is going to give you unconditional love. Something, some thing, will invariably rub your unconditional lover the wrong way. Just because you drink salad dressing out of the bottle doesn't make you a bad person.

Just because you sing “Moon River” in a falsetto with a spoon on your nose doesn't make you a bad person.

Smitty wouldn't care one way or another. He is here to dispense love. That's his assignment.

Some of us get carried away and put costumes on our dogs. I wouldn't dare, but I have seen pictures of dachshunds in foam hot dog buns with a foam squiggle of mustard. People, ex-friends, have sent these pictures to me. Hardy har har. Good-bye. Hang by your thumbs.

Sure, they look ridiculous, but they're not. They are fine and decent and thoughtful little men and women, intent upon salving the wounds of existence.

Guess who took care of me when I had a miserable winter cold? Guess who stayed by my side during the disturbing narrative of the Boston Marathon?

It's got me loving him, madly.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net


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