Long Lessons

In June of last year, we told you, with great enthusiasm, about a book called Hounded: The Lowdown on Life from Three Dachshunds.

About that time, a man named Jason Garrison came across that book. His reaction was a bit different from ours. His first reaction was, in fact, and we're quoting him here, "Crap." Then he read the book, and modified his reaction to – another direct quote – "Double-Crap."

Let us hasten to clarify that Garrison wasn't making a critical judgment. You see, Hounded is by a man with three dachshunds and about the lessons they have taught him. Garrison was just finishing a book called Long Lessons; What I Thought I Knew about (wiener) Dogs. Garrison owns three dachshunds, and his book was about the lessons they taught him. So his first reaction was because someone had beat him to publication, and his second reaction was because he recognized that Ziselman's book is really very good.

Knowing that finding a publisher at all is difficult for a non-blockbuster author and that his chances of finding that publisher were now approaching the lower limits of nano-probability, Garrison opted for self-publication. He's doing his own promotion work, and we found him through the graces of Amazon's (admittedly sometimes suspect) recommendation algorithms.

But we're glad we found him, because we can now tell you, our dachshund-loving readers, that the two books are really not that similar, and that both deserve a spot on your shelf.

Ziselman's book drew general life lessons from his dachshund pack. Garrison's, on the other hand, is the story of a man who didn't want to have a dog, let alone three of them, who thought that small dogs didn't even qualify as "real," and how all of his beliefs and misapprehensions about dogs and dog ownership were overturned one by one, first by Sparky, then by Sparky and Reesie, then by Sparky and Reesie and Dixie.

You, our readers, who are experienced dachshund owners will feel a frisson of recognition at the recounting of the perils and trials of housebreaking, the disgust at the things our dogs choose to eat and the explosive effects at the other end of the alimentary canal, and the incessant barking at anyone who approaches the dogs' home except for real burglars. And you'll feel twinges of compassion at the emergency vet visits – why do our dogs never have crises during regular business hours? – back surgeries and life-threatening conditions.

The ironically inclined among us will be tempted to say that Garrison missed a good bet. During the course of the years that the book encompasses, he earns first a master's degree and then a doctorate in Old Testament studies. What if he had written the story of himself and his three dachshunds after the manner of The Book Of Job? You will recall that as Job sits desolate on a pile of ashes, his three friends come to tell him that God is just and that all of Job's troubles are a sure indication that he has sinned mightily, which Job denies. And don't our dachshunds frequently give us a look that says, "Don't blame me; it's all your fault?" Only when Job finally admits that he is subject to the unknowable, unchallengeable will of God, only when he admits that "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," are his trials lifted from him. We all know, as Jason Garrison finally found out, that it is given to dachshund owners to repent not in dust and ashes, but in poop bags and vet bills.

So when we've read the last page of his book, we're ready to shake Garrison's hand and say, "Welcome, friend, you're one of us now."

Go buy Jason Garrison's Long Lessons; What I Thought I Knew about (Wiener) Dogs. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

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