Time To Mourn, And A Time To Heal
(Published November, 1999)
If you visited our site in October, you read that the Dachshund Delights Board of Directors was reduced to four with the loss of our beloved Stubby. Jerry, our webmaster, kindly stepped in and informed you that she had died and that our shock and grief over her has hindered our plans of establishing our new ordering system, and he said a few words of tribute to Stubby. In early September he made his second trip from Chicago to our workshop in Ohio to help us with computer technicalities. The second trip was not anticipated at the beginning of the project. Now he and I both are glad that the second trip was necessary, for he, unknowingly, got to see Stubby one more time.
While Jerry shared with you that we lost Stubby in an accident, the story is known by only a few.
From the moment Stubby entered this world, we knew she was special. I helped her make her entrance and I held her plump little body as she took her first breath. She outweighed her other four siblings from the start and she was always first in line for a meal. The silver streaks were immediately noticeable, traits from her dad, Oliver. But what stood out as unique was actually the lack of something: a tail. She had this little piece of fur-covered flesh where a real tail should have been. It was nowhere near the size of the other puppies’ tails. We hoped that perhaps it would grow as she did (and she had no problem growing), but at six weeks of age it was still the same size. She couldn’t wag it or even lift it, which made potty times a bit tricky.
When she was old enough, the vet X-rayed her and found that the tail was really just skin. There was just a "stub" of a bone where the tail should have extended. Three vertebrae of the lower spine were fused together. The vet recommended amputating the "tail" but there was nothing to be done with the vertebrae as long as she was not in pain or having any noticeable problems. And so she came home, sans her "tail."
As she grew, it was obvious she would never walk or run like a normal dachshund. She would "bunny hop" when she ran and waddle when she walked … but that didn’t stop her from keeping up with everybody else. Rhett was her buddy and they would tear around the house and the yard in an earnest game of chase and tackle … usually Stubby tackling Rhett. She was smart. She knew she couldn’t keep up with his speed – sleek and fast, he would make a great running back for a football team – so she would humor him by chasing him a bit but then she would stop and wait for him to come full-circle and then pounce on him as he tried to evade her tackle. Many times she would use her weight advantage to pin him down in a death-grip around his throat. Jerry would never believe this and stood up for Rhett saying that he was being a gentleman and "let her win."
Her entire "lower half" just wasn’t put together right. She didn’t have the best control over her bladder, as evident by the warm sensation you might get down the front of you if you hugged her just a tad too tightly. Sometimes just picking her up would cause a stream to flow before you even got her up in your arms … not just an excited "squirt" but all she had to offer. For that reason she often had to wear diapers and earned the nickname "Pee Pot." Since she didn’t have a tail, we used a pair of little boys padded underpants. The elastic around the waist and legs were just right for her figure. The face we drew on the rump of the white pants smiled at you as she waddled away.
While we might not always be so sure whose "accident" a wet spot might have been, we always knew when the "present" left on the floor was Stubby’s. Just as she could not walk or run as other dogs, her bowel movement position was more of a squat. And the production of her labor always had a unique log shape. At first we attributed her "accidents" to just that – accidents … until we moved into our current house, that has an upstairs. Odd how we would find "accidents" up there after hearing her "thump, thump, thump" hop up the stairs and then back down again.
As if her physical differences weren’t enough for her to handle, she also had seizures. Mostly controlled by medication, she would still have perhaps one every other month. It’s possible that a seizure contributed to her accidental death. But for all her disabilities in life, she never complained. She would be the first to greet you. She had no tail with which to express herself, but she didn’t need one. Her whole body would exuberate happiness. She would jump into your lap and smother your face with kisses. Then once on the floor again she would race away and get a running start to come flying back, ears flapping, into your arms.
She was a beautiful dachshund. A silver dapple longhair, her markings were quite striking. A silver streak down the bridge of her nose, a silver "shield" across her chest and left shoulder, and silver splattering here and there throughout her body. She would be told on a daily basis how beautiful she was … "Oh, Stubby ... you are GORGEOUS! GORGEOUS! You are one GORGEOUS girl!" would be our favorite love talk as we held her tightly and she gazed at us with her big, soft, brown eyes. She would thank us with one slurp to the face … and if you weren’t careful, she would land her kiss of gratitude square on/in your mouth as you were speaking the very words of admiration.
No matter her diet, she was always plump. She had no waist. From the moment she was born she was a "hefty girl." Her "plus" size and feathery coat made her so squeezable and a perfect pillow for resting your head on the couch. Food was her number one thought in life. If there was food anywhere within her smelling reach, forget the swooning. Forget the love-talk. Forget the hugs. GIVE ME THE FOOD! She had a great nose. If she was working a crack or a crevice or sniffing under the stove, you better believe there was a crumb there. She could smell treats if they were sealed in a plastic container and in three layers of bags in the closet.
Her nose would often get her into trouble outside. So many tempting smells coming from the five acres of woods that we live on. She proudly wore the leaves, burrs and twigs clinging to her ears and feathering and the mud caked on her paws and in her nose as symbols of her battle waged with the underground creatures.
Without question her number one favorite activity was eating. Her second was hunting and tramping. Her third was modeling. She loved wearing clothes. She was the perfect model for our Hug-A-Dog™ and Hold-A-Dog™ harnesses. Rhett runs and hides when he hears the rrrrrrrripp of the harness Velcro®. Stubby would come running to see if it was for her. With great patience she would stand still for our seamstress, Helene, as adjustments and alterations were made in the harness design. Sweaters, coats, costumes, ribbons, bows, hats, bandanas … she loved wearing them all. She would stand perfectly still for photos, looking about proudly that SHE was the chosen one. If any other dachshund were being fitted, she would stand before us with a hurt look on her face. And if that didn’t work, she would push the other dachshund away and position herself right in the middle of the dressing procedure. On numerous occasions Helene would look down from her sewing and would find Stubby gazing up at her with a hopeful expression as if she were asking, "You’re making that for me, aren’t you?" Sometimes Helene would make her just any simple thing out of scraps and she would parade around showing everyone how pretty she was. Pink was her favorite color to wear, but she wasn’t particular.
She willingly participated in numerous photo sessions for the harness. When the camera came out, she KNEW it was all about her. She would actually pose for pictures. Whatever position I wanted her in, she stayed there. Her expressions were always confident and proud … unlike Rhett who would hang his head in embarrassment. Two days before her death, I stood in front of a four-color press in Cleveland and watched 10,000 boxes being run for our harness packaging. And just a few days after her death I received the box of 2,500 flyers with her picture promoting the harness. She was a part of this business as one of the five Directors on the Board. She will continue to be a part of it with each harness that is sold.
Dachshund Delights will never be the same without Stubby. We will never be the same without her. We buried her in the woods that she loved so much, wearing her pink harness and a frilly, pink cloth collar Helene had just made for her the day before. She was laid to rest tucked in one of the DreamSack beds that she so loved to snuggle in … and a Three Dog Bakery "rib" treat tucked under her nose. An "angel" dachshund garden stake marks where she lies.
Even though she is gone from us in body, it’s still all about her.
Owner, Dachshund Delights
(Published February, 2005)
This space was intended to be used for a different story from what now appears here. But on January 25, our editorial plans changed. The story was to be about our "Burguess 5" … the five dachshunds from 2 Dogs Long Dachshunds that we have among the staff here at Dachshund Delights. It was to be about my recent trip to visit Becky & Bill Burguess and their wonderful wiener ranch, and about how it's always tempting for me to bring home another "Burguess doxie". But sadly, very sadly, we must use this space in memory of one of the "Burguess 5." Domino, our latest addition just a year ago, escaped from our fenced in area on the evening of January 25. No one knew he had wriggled through the bottom of one of the gates. With the snow, ice, and cold temperatures, the bottom of the gate had not closed completely shut. It was open just enough for a precocious wiener to squeeze through. For whatever reason possessed him (other than his hound nose), he traversed the length of our 700+ foot driveway and onto the road. Whoever hit him did not bother to stop to find out where he belonged (I found him right across the road from our driveway) even though he had an ID tag. It's been rather quiet here in the shop as we all struggle with the sadness. Domino was a sweet boy full of love and kisses. His playfulness entertained us: he could play for hours with squeak toys and he would "talk" to them as he methodically disemboweled them. He was a fiend for treats. A quicker draw on dropped food would be a hard thing to find. There was no tossing a treat to the other dogs with Domino in the room. He could launch himself from several feet away and snatch the morsel out of thin air, leaving the would-be recipient wondering how his disappeared from sight and smell. He was with us far too short of time. He is buried next to our beloved Stubby, wrapped in a DreamSack with several of his favorite squeakies tucked in with him. And, of course, a couple treats. Becky informed me later that on the day of Domino's passing, a new litter of piebalds was born. The litter of four contained three red piebalds – and one black & tan piebald. A boy. A boy whose daddy is the same as Domino's. One life ends … a new one begins.
Greta's Uncle Bill
My Uncle Bill doesn't come here any more. He used to come to our workshop to see me. My Aunt Helene (she's the one who makes all the harnesses and doxie beds) always thought he came to see her, but I know it was really me. You see, he was the only one who really understood how life was for me. No one loved me like my Uncle Bill. I could tell him all my stories and he believed me. No one else would. I would tell him that I hadn't eaten in days....that everyone else got to eat except me. He believed me and gave me lots of treats. I told him that I didn't like to go outside to "do my business." I like to pee on carpet but there wasn't any carpet here in the work shop. He told me that he didn't like to pee outside either. Soon after that, my Aunt Helene brought in a piece of carpet just for me so that I didn't have to go outside. It was my rug to pee on. Everyone else goes outside except me. Once, I told him that I didn't like wearing pink harnesses. He told my Aunt Helene and the next day she made me a new harness. That's why I know I'm special with Uncle Bill.
But he doesn't come to see me any more … and I don't know why. He would pick me up first and hug me and tell me what a pretty girl I am. I would nuzzle and paw his beard and give him lots of kisses. He would then cradle me in his arms and I would settle in to tell him my woeful story of the day that no one else would believe. I would sometimes gently stroke his beard with my paw to make sure he understood the seriousness of my problem.
Sometimes he would sit on the floor with his legs stretched out and I would lie on my back in his lap … those were for really long stories. Sometimes I would fall asleep telling him all about it.
But he doesn't come here any more. I missed him so much that my Aunt Helene took me to see him. She told me that my Uncle Bill was very sick and very tired. So she took me to their home and my Uncle Bill was there. He was sitting on the couch waiting just for me. I knew he was my Uncle Bill, but he smelled funny. The smells were kind of like the scents at the dog hospital...only I think his smells came from a people hospital. His skin was a different color, too. Even though he seemed happy to see me, he didn't pick me up. My Aunt Helene had to pick me up and put me on his lap. I gave him lots of kisses and told him how much I missed him. He said he was happy to see me, too. He couldn't hold me very long so I laid still right beside him. I had so much to tell him. I knew he was the only one who would believe me. I started to tell him my stories, but pretty soon his eyes started to close and he said he was very tired and needed to go lay in his bed. I wanted to go, too, but Aunt Helene said I might get caught in the tubes that were sticking in his body.
I didn't understand what was happening to my Uncle Bill. Why wouldn't he play with me? Why couldn't I tell him all of my stories?
A few days ago my mom took Garbo and me over to Aunt Helene's – but Uncle Bill wasn't there. I ran all over the place looking for him. I could smell him on his things … but I couldn't find him – not even hiding under the bed. My Aunt Helene picked me up and hugged me. She had salty water coming out of her eyes. She told me that Uncle Bill wasn't here any more. She said he was playing with Princess and Grandma Peewee and Stubby. But I didn't understand that because they've gone away, too. She said something about Cancer making Uncle Bill go away.
I don't think I like Cancer. It took away my Uncle Bill. I don't know who Cancer is, but if I ever see it, I'm going to ask it to give me back my Uncle Bill. He was my Uncle Bill. No one loved me like Uncle Bill. And no one else believed my stories like Uncle Bill.
I'm not sure what I'll do now. I guess I'll just have to wait until I see him again. And then we'll have forever to share our stories.
In memory and honor of Bill Laird 1933-2001