Category Archives: dachshunds

It’s a Dog’s Life

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” ― Martin Luther

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”  Dean Koontz, False Memory

When people talk about their dogs like they are nearly human there are some that think them crazy. Of course they are entitled to their opinion but then they haven’t had our dogs.   Judy and I both grew up with dogs and neither of us can imagine not having one to spoil.

Our little dog Molly has a rough life. She is our third dog and has all the benefits negotiated by our first two dogs. She gets a dog biscuit because our first dog, an incredibly stubborn Wire Hair Dachshund that we got on Christmas Eve 1984 in Wiesbaden Germany named Frieda. Now Frieda was the “dog from hell” and tested us every day of her life. She never got it that she was not the top dog and every day it was a different power fight. Eventually she succeed in getting us to pay her to do her business outside and not on the rug. Our second dog, Greta a fat little Red Dachshund that we got in San Antonio when Frieda was four years old also got the same deal even though she was easy to housebreak.

Molly simply takes the “cookie” as we call it as her due.  We talk about “renewing her contract” when we buy dog food and well she has a more toys than some kids. It is funny to see dig through her toy basket for specific toys especially when she drags out toys from her puppyhood.  She is a fearless little creature and absolutely calming. When we went to the beach to watch fireworks on July 4th she was steady as a rock as people set of their own show grade fireworks above our heads and I was trying to control PTSD related flashbacks and a major anxiety attack she seemed to sense it and kept close to me, her calmness helped me calm down that night.

One of the things that she loves to do is come with us down to the Island Hermitage in Emerald Isle North Carolina. Since I am stationed at Camp LeJeune and I am a geographic bachelor this means that I make the trip home to Virginia every couple of weeks. Judy had surgery on her Achilles tendon two weeks ago and this week came down here with me since my apartment is all at the ground level and there are no steps to negotiate.  Of course our little dog Molly made the trip as well.

Molly like the island life.  I live about a quarter mile from the beach in a quiet neighborhood with a lot of woods and wildlife.  Molly has discovered that the local deer like to hang around where I live, she loves the beach, the walks where she can track various animals and of course the 6 foot long bean bag in my living room which she has decided is hers.  Molly is half Dachshund and half Papillon and weighs all of 15 pounds.  However she has decided that the bean bag is hers thank you.

She came down the first time with Judy during the summer and then had a short vacation with me here in October.  When we came down here this week she seemed to anticipate where we were were going, obviously a trip this long means that she is going on vacation.

Yes she is spoiled. She was a rescue that we got when she was about 6 months old.  We don’t know if she was a run away or dump but we came out with a gem. Incredibly smart, sweet and always playful she seems to know that she is cute and funny.  She can be obnoxious and is entirely too entitled but she is a monster of our own making.

She has a sense of fairness about her that is funny. She will divide here time between us almost as if she doesn’t want either of us to feel left out.  She has figured out that Judy hasn’t been well and has poured out extra attention on her while ensuring that I take her out for her walk and make sure that she has her food and water.

Anyway she is entertaining and sweet and always fun.  We are blessed to have the her and hope that if you have a dog that yours brings as much joy to your life as molly does ours.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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X-Files and Wiener Dog attempts at World Domination

Note to readers: This is a revision of a very early post on this site which I think that you will enjoy.

Frieda as a puppy in 1984

Author’s note: The term “Little Shit” in reference to a Wiener Dog is one which may offend some people who have not been owned by one.  However, as a descriptive term there is little better to describe them and I do not use the term lightly but with great care.  Those of us who have spent our lives owned by them and who have struggled against them also mean it as a term of endearment.  Thus by using the term I mean no offense to the unenlightened, or those who have sweet sensitive and obedient dogs who cannot comprehend the duality of good and evil that lies in the heart of a Dachshund.  However, as we who know and love them understand deep in our hearts these little shits are to be treasured each in their own way. All artwork done by the Abbess of the Abby Normal see her site at

http://abbeynormalabbess.wordpress.com/
Wiener Dogs, sometimes known as Dachshunds are among the most peculiar animals.  Their long and low silhouette is distinctive and if you see one of them walking their owner you cannot miss the particular gait of their walk and manner in which their tail is carried behind them as they alertly look for whatever trouble that they can avail themselves of you know that trouble is on the way.

A cocky Frieda in the Grass with one of her stolen tennis balls

Almost anyone who has been owned by a Dachshund can tell you stories of how these little shits manage to do things that, well….to put it mildly will certainly convince you of the existence of purgatory.  You will become a believer as they will make your life Purgatory for the 12-16 years or more that they will own you.  Sorry Protestants who don’t believe, if you aren’t owned by one here there will be one in Purgatory named Frieda, who at one time for 16 years exacted her own sweet form of purgatory in our little household. I am convinced that God that the Devil have worked out a deal to let Frieda to run your life in Purgatory until you get straightened out enough to get to heaven.  After all, Purgatory is, like my home of record, West Virginia, Almost Heaven.

Greta or Poo as a puppy

The Abbess and I have had these little wonders for oh… the last 25 years or so.   We have grown attached to them, much as hostages attach to their terrorist captors in the Stockholm syndrome. We are convinced John, no I’m not having fun, Calvin had a Wiener Dog.  We would like to believe that JC’s was a Wire Hair, although I don’t think that the Wire Hair was around quite by JC’s time. However, that being said and despite the influence of the Augustinian understanding of predestination which certainly helped form Calvin’s theology I am absolutely certain that Calvin had to have one of these little shits to come up with the doctrine of  Total Depravity. There is no question in my Anglo-Catholic mind of this fact. Likewise, I’m sure that the Deity Herself will confirm this someday and that perhaps John Calvin himself will thank me for bringing this up as we warm up on heaven’s lush green outfield.

For those of you who don’t believe, all you need to do is look at the first chapter of the original edition of James Dobson’s book The Strong Willed Child. Even Dobson cannot escape a power fight with his Wiener Dog named Max.  Dobson reports a physical fight that he had with Max and but I am certain that this could not have been an isolated incident as no self respecting Dachshund would ever let being physically subdued one time keep them from their nefarious power seeking ways.

Greta at about the age of 10 in West Virginia, not a skinny dog

For us we had Frieda, a beautiful classic Wire Hair Dackel (what the Germans call them) from deep in Bayern (Bavaria). Frieda took ownership of us on Christmas Eve 1984 beginning a 16 year reign of terror.  Four years later we came across Greta, a fat little red Dachshund from San Antonio who we got in 1988. Greta who we affectionately called Greta-Poo which I shortened to just Poo did not rule as Frieda did but instead was a consummate thief no garbage can even ones protected by pantry doors was safe as long as she was around.  If we made the mistake of leaving food anywhere that she could get it would be gone if we turned our backs or did not constantly threaten her.  The funniest incident of the Poo’s thievery was when we lived in Texas and had a number of friends over, as was our custom to eat pizza and watch Star Trek the Next Generation.  We made a fatal mistake. A major thunderstorm and cloudburst created a bit of a stir and we all went out into the apartment’s breezeway to see the rain and hail come down. There was one very large piece of pizza, if I recall with everything on it including jalapeno peppers on the pizza pan on the coffee table. Poo could not resist and grabbed the piece of pizza dragging it under the table.  When we came back in we saw her with the pizza in her mouth and at the same time she saw us.  It was as if she started to shove the pizza in her mouth with both paws when she saw us.  The Abbess looked at her and simply said “Dog it’s yours” as we all laughed.  The little shit ate the whole thing jalapeños and all.  She would continue her thievery until the last few months of her life when confined to a Dachshund “wheelchair” due to back problems.

Molly on “her” couch

We Finally we have our current little shit and mischlinge (mixed) Long Hair Dachshund-Papillion and defender of the realm, Molly, in 2001 after we lost Frieda at the age of 16 ½.  Molly still acts like a puppy at 8.  Molly though a mixed breed flips from being the happy and obedient Papillion to the obnoxious and stubborn Wiener Dog in nothing flat

Looking for Squirrel

It is if there is some sort of hypostatic union going on with Molly fully Dachshund and fully Papillion. There is no in between setting for her, she goes from the good side of the Force to the Dark side at a moment’s notice.  Sometimes I think that she is channeling Frieda when this happens. Though they never met, they are somewhat kindred spirits.  Molly is not nearly as extreme as Frieda and we can thank heaven for that, but back to Frieda, or as she was oft known “the Queen.”

We spent 16 plus years in a constant power fight with Frieda. The term “little shit” applied to Frieda is a misnomer.  The Queen weighed in at 28 pounds and had teeth and jaws like a German shepherd.  Patently the little shits in Germany are bred to hunt badgers and foxes.  They are incredibly strong and have an attitude just this side of a Klingon in a bad mood.  Most dogs, once you have established dominance as the “Alpha Dog” in your little pack accept their place.  Not Wiener Dogs, especially Frieda. She spent 16 years trying to force us into doing what she wanted be it through passive or aggressive means.  If you have ever seen the Peter Sellers movie The Pink Panther Strikes Again where Inspector Cleauseau visits Oktoberfest and gets a room at a small hotel, you will see what I am referring to here. The good inspector sees a dog lying on the floor near the front desk. He asks the desk clerk if his dog bites.  The clerk replies no and Cleauseau reaches to pet the dog which then attacks him.  Cleauseau yells at the desk clerk “I thought you said your dog did not bite.” To which the clerk replied; “that’s not my dog.”  The dog in the movie is a Wire Hair, who looks just like Frieda in her early years. This was our life for 16 years.

http://www.kontraband.com/videos/19428/Does-Your-Dog-Bite/

Although both Greta, as we affectionately called her Poo had her moments, and Molly like I said sometimes channels Frieda.  Frieda was unique. From what I hear from others owned by Wire Hair Dachshunds that some of what she did are common to all of these miscreant creatures.  I can’t go into too many details and like John the Evangelist I would have to say that there are many more things that Frieda did which cannot be contained in this one essay but I shall endeavor to mention a few.

Frieda was a liar.  I know that sounds harsh because many people have a notion that dog’s don’t lie. This pattern of obfuscation began early in her life when as a puppy in Germany she would try to fake the Abbess out about by to urinate in the yard.  She knew that if she went outside and did her business that she would be rewarded.  Rapidly catching on the little shit began to do “touch and goes’ faking the pee and hoping to still get a reward.  One day the Abbess noticed this and thus began an intricate dance of death with the little shit attempting to fool us, and us trying to catch her.  This usually involved looking to make sure that there was wetness where wetness should be on a female dog after they urinate.   If there was no wetness Frieda would not get her reward.  Likewise, Frieda lied about other things.  When she did something that she shouldn’t and you discovered it she could act more innocent than a Nazi at the Nurnberg Trials.  “What? Me? Do something wrong, I was in the Hofbrauhaus while the others we making those decisions.”  If you decided to push the issue she became 28 pounds of razor blades.  Actually it was more like a Sherman tank blundering into an ambush by a Wehrmacht Jagdpanther with the long 88.  Not a fun, often violent and sometimes bloody.  I think that the Abbess and I still have scars from some of these encounters.

Frieda lied in other ways, occasionally we would catch her.  Once while living in Texas we left home to take a blind friend to the store.  This was just before Christmas and the Abbess had just made an ass-load of cookies.  We had not planned this trip and when our friend called we left the apartment rather quickly.  When we got to our friends’ house we were struck by a terrible thought, the cookies were in striking distance of Frieda and Poo.  Reacting quickly I asked our friend for his phone. This of course was back in the dark ages before cell phones were affordable to the average person.  Calling my house I waited for my version of Bill Clinton’s voice to play through the message on the machine and as soon as the “beep” signaled that I was live I began to talk.  “Dammit, get away from the cookies now! I’m coming home and if I catch you you’re both dead!” Slamming the phone down I ran to the car and raced the 5 miles back to our apartment.  As I rushed the door I noticed that indeed to cookies had been pilfered, however the dogs were nowhere to be found. Looking around I found Poo cowering in the bedroom and Frieda hiding behind the toilet.  I can only imagine the looks on their faces when my voice called them out in the middle of the crime.

Frieda galring at us after surgery to remove a tumor on her tail at the age of ten

Frieda liked to play dead.  I mean play dead enough to make that you think that she was dead.  She would be on her back, eyes fixed forward and unblinking, chest not moving. She would do this until we or her various puppy sitters were screaming “Oh may God she’s dead!” When she was happy the little shit would wag the very tip of her tail as if to say gotcha!

If you asked if she knew about the ripped up clothing, eaten socks, opened child proof medicine bottles her eyes would turn to steel.  Molly can do this too when caught.  Thankfully she is only half of Frieda’s weight and not as heavily armed. She also being a mischlinge has to fight her inner Papillion urge to please, something that Frieda did not have to contend with being fully in tune with the Dark Side of the Force.

Now our experiences with Frieda did not end when the little shit died.  I was deployed in the Far East when after going into renal failure and refusing treatment; yes she stopped cooperating and would not eat the special kidney diet.  The Abbess tells me that when the vet told her to fry some of the food with some with a bit of oregano to tempt her to eat it.  The Abbess knew that this was hopeless but did so anyway.  She describes the look that Frieda gave her that night as “Damn you and the horse that you rode in on.”

Well after Frieda passed into the great beyond the saga did not end.  As I mentioned I was in the Far East when she went to be with whomever she went to be, most likely whoever made her the best offer, she would have sold us down the river if she had been given the chance in life.  One night the Abbess was asleep and felt a familiar presence, Frieda had come into the room dragging a blue robe that the Abbess had never seen before, got into bed with her and as she petted Frieda she noticed that the bumps, warts and other skin flaws that had marred Frieda in life, which we think might have been in part due to exposure to Chernobyl radiation in Germany were no longer there. Her skin was smooth as she held Frieda the Queen disappeared.  Unknown to the Abbess on the far side of the world I had bought her a blue robe in Korea and would the same day as the Abbess receive a visit from the Queen.  When we told each other of our experiences we were both shocked.  It was beyond weird and certainly X-File material.

Molly in the snow

As I said before the stories about Frieda could fill volumes as could those about the Poo and Molly.  Those who knew Frieda can attest to these and many other nearly unbelievable stories.  Maybe she was an X-File. I don’t know, but if so she was our X-File and we loved the little shit, we still miss her.  One thing that we know for sure, always let lying dogs sleep.

Now we have Molly who on occasion assists in the writing of essays on this site.

Peace, Steve+

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Mighty Miss Molly: 15 Pounds of Hell and Terror

Molly Miss LertAlways on Alert

Our current dog Molly is a Dachshund-Papillion mix that we got as a rescue in North Carolina.  She had been found in some brush covering in tar near NC 24 in Carteret County.  Judy met the lady who found her at the Vet when the lady was taking Molly in for her shots. Judy saw the face and body of the puppy in the lady’s arms and did not notice that the ears were slightly askew and that her legs, conveniently hidden were real legs and not Dachshund flippers.  Judy offered to help as we had lots of experience with quirky Wiener Dogs. A few days later the lady called us as Molly was wearing the lady’s older dog out.  We went to get her and Judy gasped in horror when she realized that Molly was not a purebred Dachshund but a mix of undetermined type.  Some thought that she might be Dachshund and Shelty, but after a lot of research and looking around we realized that she was half-Papillion.  This aside I fell in love with the little thing, she was about 5-6 months old and weighed all of 7 pounds and we took her home.

molly alertCome Down Here Squirrel!

Molly’s  face is that of a Dachshund with ears that don’t really know what to do with themselves as they are sort of a blend of Dachshund and Papillion ears with the fringes of a Papillion.  When she is on alert they look like fire-direction radar on WWII Navy ships.  She is a beautiful shade of dark red, her body a bit longer than a full blooded Papillion and her legs a bit longer than a full blooded Dachshund.  Her tail is the curved tail of a Papillion with a large cascading plume. She looks a bit like a small Red Fox; something that one of neighbors in North Carolina thought that she was a Fox pup.

Molly on couchLazy Day

Molly is incredibly smart and though we knew that she was smart we have been discovering this year that she is scary smart in problem solving ability, understanding and perseverance.  We thought Frieda, aka “the Queen” or the “Dog from Hell” was the smartest dog we had ever seen and Molly makes Frieda look average.  Those of our friends and family who have met Frieda can attest that Frieda was scary smart.  Molly is smarter but without the evil edge that Frieda had.  Molly loves to play, if you tell her to get such and such toy out of her huge basket of toys she will dig until she finds it.  Every year at Christmas we wrap presents for her and watch as she opens them and begins to play.

molly and christmas presentsUnwrapping Her Christmas Presents

Molly is also incredibly sweet to us and people that she knows.  She is a suck up and very melodramatic or as we say “Mollodramatic.” We have a friend named Tim who with his wife Diane will watch Molly when we are out of the area and Tim is Molly’s “boyfriend.” It is embarrassing how they make over each other; you’d think that they need to get a room.

Molly2With One of Her Many Toys

You would think that a Dachshund-Papillion mix would have kind of a blended personality and temperament.  Moll is not like that.  She runs either 100% Dachshund or 100% Papillion, there is no middle setting.  Her Dachshund temperament shows when she is not happy about something, she will be positively aloof and even morose.  She will like our Dachshunds take revenge if she is pissed at us for whatever reason.  This usually takes the form of destroying underwear by cutting the narrower side- seam like she was using scissors.  To keep her from doing this we keep a child gate at the foot of our staircase as she is sneaky about things like this.  When she is in Papillion mode she is sweetness and light, almost like “Nermal” in the Comic strip Garfield.  She is also somewhat unflappable very little spooks her and she maintains her own little life.  She is not co-dependent like our Red Dachshund Greta, or as we called her “Poo,” see One Tough Poo, Memories of a Fat and Fearsome Wiener Dog http://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/one-tough-poo-memories-of-a-fearsome-and-fat-wiener-dog/ nor do we have to contend with Frieda’s “you are the inept help” attitude towards us. See Let Lying Dogs Sleep http://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/let-lying-dogs-sleep/

Molly in snow 3 the foxLike a Fox

Molly is also quite the watchdog and fighter.  She does not like big dogs at all and we have to restrain the little shit on occasion.  Likewise when someone comes to the door she about comes unglued in defending the place so much so that we have to use squirt-guns or bottles to put her in her place.  Words will not do at this point, but she does not like getting sprayed.  For a rather fun account of one of these incidents see my post from a few months back entitled Saturday Morning Distractions-Jehovah’s Witnesses at the Door http://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/saturday-morning-distractions-jehovahs-witnesses-at-the-door/I have no doubts that if someone were to ever tyr to break in on us or cause us harm that Molly would actually give her life to defend us and our property.

Molly miss intensityMiss Intensity

However the most interesting thing that we have seen and often the most fun is her relentless protection of her realm in our backyard.  Woes betide the squirrel, rabbit, possum, or bird that comes into our yard.  She has actually caught and killed two birds, she never fails to chase the squirrels, she once cornered a possum at night in the corner of our yard, thankfully I was able to grab her before she could launch her attack and well thankfully the bunnies have not been in the back when she was on the lookout as I do not think that they would fare as well as the squirrels have to this point.  She also takes her time to hunt down flies and other bugs that might get in the house or that she traps on the porch. Her one mistake was eating a spider once which caused an emergency Vet visit as her nose and muzzle had swollen up like Karl Malden.

molly looking up the treeLooking up the Tree at the Squirrels

Having only had things with Dachshund blood, and Judy having Pugs growing up neither of us knew anything about Papillion temperament.  All that we knew were that they were very smart, sweet and playful.  We had not read the part about them being the protective and combative type that she is, until we saw the comic at the top of this post yesterday.  I saw it and about died laughing out loud as it fits Molly to a tee.

Molly Where is the squirrelHunting for Squirrels

Molly certainly makes our life interesting and she is a trip.

Molly againSomebody Knows Molly

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under dachshunds, Loose thoughts and musings, purely humorous

Where were You When…? The Death of an Icon and Its Impact in Our Lives

Note: This post is one where I invite readers to share any memories they have of Michael Jackson’s death or other events that involved the deaths of cultural icons as well as significant events that either affected you or made a deep impact on your life or that of people that you know.  I will approve all comments except those identified as spam by WordPress.

The death of Michael Jackson yesterday was one of those events in life that when they occur leave a lasting impression on people. Even people who were not fans of Michael will remember because Michael Jackson was a cultural icon.  When icons die, or tragedies occur they tend to leave a lasting mark.  You can be talking to anyone and if they were alive when one of these events happened and quite a few or most people will be able to tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time of the event.

I am 49 years old, though patently I don’t really look my age, nor do I act it.  Being that I am nearly half a century old it means that I have seen a fair amount of life.  Since I am passionate about life and a keen observer of life, society and culture being a historian as well as member of the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park parish I remember a lot.  I’m told by some that I have one of those phonographic memories.  You know the kind where you get a thought in your head and it keeps going and going round and round at 33 1/3 RPMs.  I will remember this because we had just arrived at the Capital Hilton and were preparing to go out for dinner with Judy’s cousin Becki at Murphy’s of DC to celebrate our anniversary.  I had just checked the news when I heard that Michael had been found down and was in cardiac arrest.  Since I have seen a lot of these cases roll into ERs that I have worked in I knew that Jackson had very little chance of coming out of this alive.  Most news sites were reported that he was getting CPR and had been taken to UCLA Medical Center.  Then I checked the website of Matt Drudge, the Drudge Report following a look at CNN.  I opened the page and Drudge’s trademark old fashioned police siren light was flashing and below it in red was “WEBSITE: JACKSON DEAD!” and had a link to the celebrity gossip site TMZ.  TMZ actually reported the death over an hour prior to most of the networks.  It also turned out that TMZ’s report was pretty accurate.  Later other sites began to announce the news pretty much confirming TMZ’s initial report. I saw the report on CNN as we walked to get a cab to the restaurant with Becki.  It was kind of surreal as Michael Jackson, despite his eccentric actions and nearly continuous controversy surrounding his life, was a larger than life figure.

So events like this get etched on people’s memories like images of the Virgin Mary on grilled cheese sandwiches or pizzas.  These have been reported by the faithful and offered for sale on E-bay so they must be authentic right? They are something that you reallymust  remember. Talking with Judy and Becki at dinner we began to recount where we were at different moments events over the past 30 years or so.   For me the events are often linked to other seemingly inconsequential events going on in my own life. As I have said before we have lived a life  much like the characters in the show Seinfeld so some of these things may not be as funny to you as they are for me.

Some of the things that I remember which stand out include the following events.  If you remember where you were at these events please feel free to comment or add your own in the comments section.  This is one of those rare times when almost everyone has a memory that surfaces because a current event triggers the memory of that particular event.

For me I’m going to first each back to is the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King on April 4th 1968.  That was strange because we lived in the little town of Oak Harbor Washington where my dad was stationed.  The town was small and isolated by being on an island.  We saw the news reports that night this time I believe we were watching NBC’s Huntley and Brinkley give the news. This was way before Cable news and so it took a while to get the story out.  As a little kid I was astounded that anyone could kill a minister and I knew that Dr. King was a leader in trying get blacks the same rights that whites enjoyed.  The next day our teacher at Oak Harbor Elementary School, Mrs. Jackson talked about it with us.  This was follow just two months later by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy following his California Primary election victory.  I remember the news reports the next day and how upset that my parents were about his death.

The next event was Apollo 11 Moon landing, the “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind” moment on July 20th 1969 where Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Lunar Module on the “Sea of Tranquility.”  I was a kid and on summer vacation still living in Oak Harbor.  We were at home watching Walter Cronkite report the event live when it happened.  That was an amazing event.

The next really big thing for me was the Marshall University Football team plane crash in Huntington West Virginia where at 7:35 Pm EST a Southern Airways DC-9 crashed into a hillside just short of the runway killing the team as well as numerous boosters, alumni and Huntington notables.  This was kind of person for us.  I had seen that team practice at the old Fairfield Stadium across the street from my grandparent’s house the previous spring before we returned to California to rejoin my dad after he had found us decent housing.  We were watching the evening news in Long Beach California when the local announcer interrupted the story he was working on and announced the crash.  My mom knew a number of people on the aircraft and was devastated.

I’m going to jump forward a bit, to the fall of Saigon on April 30th 1975.  This was a bitter day for me.  My dad had fought in Vietnam and I knew kids who had lost their fathers in the war.  I had experienced a Sunday School teach telling me that my dad was a “baby killer” for being in Vietnam in 1972 and I felt that we had let the South Vietnamese down and that it was the fault of those in the media, on the street and in Congress that had ensured that our men died in vain.  I think that was the point that I decided that I was going to enter the military.  I still cannot look at Jane Fonda and some of her fellow travelers without feeling a sense of anger.

Jumping again a few years I remember the fall of the Shah of Iran and the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran by so called “students” on November 4th 1979.  The takeover which lasted 444 days began in my sophomore year of college.  The humiliation of the country and the poor response of President Jimmy Carter confirmed that I would enter the military after college.  I won’t forget the nightly updates on ABC hosted by Ted Koppel which became the long running show Nightline. I would stay up every night to get the updates.  When the hostages were released this was cause for celebration, but the damage was done.  Of course we saw the pro and anti-Ayatollah  protesters on our university, Northride a big business school responded to a pro-Ayatollah by driving the protestors off campus.  So much for riled up MBA students and Science geeks huh?

When Elvis died on August 16th 1977 I was a getting ready to enter my senior year of high school.  In fact only a week before I had won a copy of a blue vinyl copy of his last album Moody Blue in a local pop radio station give away.  I was on a church high school trip when the news came over the radio.  The man driving the car a real estate agent who was a deacon in the church started to cry, I mean like really cry almost like Middle Eastern mourning kind of crying.  As someone who is less expressive of such emotions being a Romulan at heart I was mildly taken aback, after all it wasn’t like they had dated or anything.  I had seldom seen men cry before and this was some pretty emotional stuff.  My mom had the same kind of reaction I discovered on my way home.  I guess it was the generation thing.  He was the icon of his generation and changed both the style and the performance of music.  It was Elvis that I immediately thought of when I first saw the news of Michael Jackson’s death.  I guess the fact that both were known as the “king”, that both died young and unexpectedly and that Michael was briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley makes their connection a bit stronger than otherwise expected.  I wonder if there will be stories that Michael is really dead or if it was staged to get him some privacy.  I’m sure that conspiracy theorists will be looking into this as both a death and a disappearance.  On a side note I visited Graceland in 1983 on my way to Fort Knox Kentucky and sat in the “pink Jeep.”  Judy had a Tonka pink Jeep when she was a kid.

The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 20th 1981 stands out.  I was a junior at cal State Northridge and was taking my lunch on the lawn outside of the office where I worked as a peer counselor.  I was getting ready to go to class as I watched to really good looking girls go walking by me talking.  I didn’t notice anything unusual until the past me and continuing to watch I noticed that each had their hand down the back side of the pants of the other one.  I had never seen this before.  Of course having grown up in California I knew homosexual men and I had heard of lesbians but this was the first time that I ever noticed women of that persuasion like doing some affection or foreplay in public.  Since then of course I have had many friendships with both male homosexuals and lesbians but this was one of those moments that sticks out in my mind.  Anyway, as I walked back into the office to grab my books for class the office TV was on announcing the attempted assassination and what I will never forget is watching retired General Alexander Haig as Secretary of State have a news conference where he stated “I’m in control.”  Of course he wasn’t the next in line and though he thought that he was he was not in control, even of himself that that point.  I don’t think that then Vice President George H.W. Bush was very impressed nor were the actuals in the line of succession.  So the shooting of President Reagan is intermixed with my first view of lesbian touching and seeing a General go out of control to be in control.  As Mr. Spock might say to Captain Kirk, “Captain I find this fascinating.”

In January 1985 I was a young company commander in Wiesbaden Germany.  The Space Shuttle Challenger with 7 Astronauts aboard blew up shortly after launch.  It was already the close of the business day in Germany when this happened.  I had the First Sergeant release the soldiers a bit early and set the duty, the Charge of Quarters, the Assistant and the Duty Driver.  I was staying late as always to take care of maintenance management and personnel reports when Specialist Lisa Dailey rushed into my office.  Lisa was the Charge of Quarters or CQ that day.  She knocked on my door and said “Sir the space shuttle just blew up.”  She had been watching it live on the new AFN broadcast of live stateside TV news broadcasts.  If I recall this was the time slot of the Today Show, and yes it was when there was only one AFN broadcast channel.  I looked up from my mountain of reports and said to her, “Specialist Dailey, space shuttles don’t blow up.”  And she said, no sir it just did, I was watching it and it is on TV right now.”  So I got up from my desk and walked at a brisk pace down the hall with my spun up specialist and looked on in horror as I saw a replay of the launch.   I was stunned as like I had told Lisa “space shuttles don’t blow up.”  However this one did and it was sobering.  I should have believed Lisa, she was a great soldier and the last time that I heard from her is doing well working as an RN in Southern California.  I had an eerie reprise of this when the Space Shuttle Columbia blew up on re-entry.  At the time I was waiting for the arrival of General Peter Pace who was to be our guest speaker at the Battle of Hue City Memorial Weekend in Jacksonville FL. He was delayed a couple of hours by an emergency meeting of the Joint Chiefs.

Fast forward a few years to the bombing by Libyan agents of Pam Am flight 103, the Clipper Maid of the Seas over Lockerbie Scotland, on December 21st 1988.  I had left active duty for seminary a couple of months previously and was engaged in a nearly futile job search in oil and real estate busted Texas.  I had completed the share of my morning futility mailing our more resumes, making more calls and picking up more job applications.  As always I would take a football out and punt it as far as I could to relieve the stress.  I had already found out that breaking things that you actually need when being accosted by bill collectors is not good a good way to deal with stress.  In today’s current economy I suggest anyone is such straits pick up a football and punt the crap out of it rather than taking anything out on home appliances, electronics or loved ones.  Eventually things will work out as sucky as they may seem now; the Deity Herself has assured me of this.  Anyway, back to the plane crash.  This really was weird for us because barely two years prior we had flown the same aircraft back from Germany when we were reassigned to the states.  We remembered this because then they showed the photo of the nose and cockpit area we saw the name of the aircraft.  I looked at Judy and said, does the name of that airplane look familiar?  If I recall correctly she said something like “Oh my God” and I said: “Remember back in Frankfurt when I saw the name of the aircraft prior to boarding?” and how “l liked the way Pan Am gave pretty names to its aircraft.”  It was funny because we both vividly recalled waiting for our flight and what we said about the aircraft.  That was totally weird and surreal almost like an X-Files thing as I thought back to details inside of the aircraft and the trip home from Germany.

We were in Fort Worth for the first bombing of the World Trade Center and the destruction of the Branch Davidian Compound outside Waco.  Both times I was at work and watched the events unfold on the televisions of our ministry’s television production department.  The Branch Davidian stand-off and attempted seizure of by Federal Agents used M-751 Combat Engineer Vehicles from my National Guard unit.  The vehicles were not manned by Guardsmen but Federal agents.  Later that summer I saw a couple of the vehicles which still had white paint scratches on them from the Branch Davidian building.   In 1995 I was home getting ready to go to work in Huntington West Virginia when the Murrow Federal Building was destroyed by Timothy McVeigh.

There are quite a few others that I could mention but will finish with the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers on September 11th 2001.  I had finished a couple of counseling cases and put out some other brush fires as the Chaplain for Headquarters Battalion 2nd Marine Division.  Leaving my office for a belated PT session at the French Creek gym I was closing out my internet explorer.  On the Yahoo home page there was a small news line that said “Aircraft crashes into World Trade Center.” I shrugged and figured that some idiot private pilot had flown his aircraft into is by mistake and when out to my car.  I got in my 2001 Honda CR-V and some guy on the radio was blathering about it being an airliner and then I heard a chilling line that I will never forget. “Oh my God another aircraft has hit the second building.”  I went over to the gym and stood staring in disbelief at one of the TVs with a bunch of Marines and Sailors.  I shook my head, ran back to the office and changed over to my cammies and when to the Battalion Headquarters where we were informed of what the command knew and then set to work taking anti-terror precautions as no one knew what might happen next.  Camp LeJeune became a fortress.  There were checkpoints at key locations throughout the base.  Patrols were set up and we remained in lock-down for almost 4 days.  That is a day that I can never forget, over 3000 Americans and others killed by Islamic extremist terrorists out to ignite a world war.

So those are some of mine.  What about yours?  Feel free to add your posts here and get a discussion of these and other notable events including the death of Michael Jackson going.  It will be interesting to see and I will approve all posts to this article, excepting of course spam posts.

Peace, Steve+

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One Tough Poo…Memories of a Fearsome and Fat Wiener Dog

Mommy's Poo“One Tough Poo”  Drawn by Judy

If ever there was a little dog who took life seriously it was a fat little red smooth hair Dachshund named Greta, or Greta-Poo or simply “the Poo.”  Greta was the second of our Dachshunds, or as they are known in Germany Dackels.  We got Greta in 1988 when we were stationed in San Antonio.  We were visiting our friends across the street, Anthony and Kathy and they had visitors who had brought the remnants of a litter of Dachshund puppies over.  They were the products of a red smooth hair and a dappled smooth hair.  One puppy was already spoken for, Anthony and Kathy were looking at a second, and the third, the runt of the litter was in the arms of one of the visitors.

Judy immediately fell in love with the very sweet looking and pretty puppy. Looking at her in the arms of another woman Judy realized that she could not let the other person have the adorable little creature.  Judy immediately made an offer for the puppy which was accepted by the people who had brought her to Anthony and Kathy’s house.  Forty dollars later the puppy was curled up in Judy’s arms.  From that moment on we had the “mommy and puppy mutual admiration society.”  Greta quickly became “Mommy’s Poo.”  Greta’s sister “Miss-T” became the puppy child of Anthony and Kathy.  The two puppies though now living in separate homes still visited each other and played with each other.  Our eldest dog Frieda was sweet to the Poo.  She accepted the new addition to the family and after ensuring herself that Poo was trained appropriately in household security retired at the age of four years old.  Since Frieda lived to be 16 ½ this meant that she spend the majority of her life retired and complaining about our insufficiency in fulfilling her needs.

Poo was the most serious little dog that I have ever seen.  She took herself seriously and though a happy dog always was somewhat dour.  Frieda and Molly who we got towards the end of Poo’s life enjoyed being funny, but not Poo, and her very seriousness made her funny as hell.

Now Poo was a chow hound, in fact if you look under “chow hound” in the dictionary there is probably a picture of the Poo.  Poo seldom met a food that she didn’t like, or at least wouldn’t eat to keep Frieda from getting it.  As a result, though she was incredibly active she was fat.  She should have weighed about 18 pounds, but most of her life she spent between 20 and 23 pounds.  She looked like a red bratwurst and not a hot dog.  Poo’s first sin was a defining moment in her life.  Judy had left a freshly baked chocolate chip muffin on the arm of our couch and got up to refill her drink.  As she went back into the living room she saw Poo, now the little shit, charging off with the muffin toward our bedroom.  The very small and barely four month old puppy had the muffin in her mouth and was moving as fast has her little legs could take her.  Chasing her down Judy got the muffin back, but the incident was defining.  No food was safe if you left it alone where Poo could get it.

There were three other incidents of this particular “puppy sin” that came later in her life which are worthy of mention here. Both occurred when I was in seminary or during my Clinical Pastoral Education residency.  The first was when Judy put a cast iron pan which has the residue of freshly made refried beans on the ground for Frieda and Poo to finish off.  Now most of the time the two little shits would share whatever table food that we gave them.  This time Frieda decided that she did not want to share.  Now Frieda was a very strong animal.  She grabbed the pan by the handled and proceeded to run away with it, mind you this was a cast iron frying pan.  Poo was not about this prize get away.  As Frieda sauntered off with what she believed to be “her” booty Poo chased her down and tackled her.   They ended up sharing.  Another was when the “Free Dog” and the Poo were left at home when we left the apartment to take a blind friend to the store.  Now this was around Christmas and Judy had been baking cookies all the live long day.  Somehow we left the house with a couple of boxes full of Judy’s best on the coffee table.  How the hell we did that I will never know.  The coffee table was well within the range of both of our little shits.  As we pulled into our friend’s driveway we realized our mistake.  I rushed into our friend’s house and said, “Bert, quick, I need your phone.”  This was patently in the days before regular folks had cell phones.  I called our home number.  The answering machine went off, as I waited for my version of Bill Clinton to finish the message I wondered how many cookies the little shits had eaten.  My words, “Dammit, Frieda and Poo, you better not be eating the cookies or you’re both dead.  I’m coming home now!”   I ran back to the car and sped back to our place.  Dashing into the apartment I found that the cookies hand indeed been raided, but neither of our little shits was to be seen.  One was hiding under a table and the other; I think Frieda, was cowering behind the toilet.  I wonder what the look on their faces was when that answering machine went off with my voice telling them to get away from the cookies.  God if we had the money for surveillance cameras, it would have had to have been as funny as hell.  The third was when we had friends over for Saturday night pizza and Star Trek, the Next Generation.  I happen to make a very good large New York style pizza, thank you.  Anyway it was one of those nights when thunderstorms were crashing over the DFW Metroplex.  One of these boomers came over our area that night. I’m sorry, if you haven’t been through a North Texas boomer you have only been in the minors.  This was a cool one, we were under a tornado warning and the storms were bringing lightening, hail and massive thunder.  We and our guests decided to go out to the breezeway between buildings and watch what the Deity Herself was bringing upon the Metroplex in punishment for the firing of St Tom Landry by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  As we gathered to watch the last piece of pizza sat defenseless on the pizza pan which lay on the coffee table which we had all been sitting around.  The piece of pizza was rather large and a combination with pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and God knows what else. As we watched the storm the Poo saw her opportunity.  When I walked back in to grab a beer and I saw the Poo devouring the very large piece of pizza.  When she saw me she simply ate more frantically. It was if she was trying to shove it down her throat.  I called Judy and we both decided that it was hers.

The Poo was also serious about home defense.  She was committed heart and soul to defending the realm.  This was in stark contrast to Frieda who after her retirement would have watched Genghis Khan and his hordes march off with everything we owned provided that they paid her.  Poo on the other hand was devoted to the protection of her home and her mommy.  As a still very young dog of maybe a year and a half she surprised a Pit Bull which had come up on our lawn.  We were at the time living in a neighborhood near my seminary regularly featured on the TV program COPS.   We had gone out to check the mail and Poo came out with us.  The unwitting Pit Bull was in our front yard, which since we were both poor and without time to mow it ourselves it was rather high.  In fact it was higher than the Poo.  Our little shit saw her unsuspecting victim before we did.  She bolted off the porch and tore through the high grass barking up a storm.  The Pit Bull had no idea what was going on.  He couldn’t tell from where the ferocious roar was coming from.  Just before the Poo could reach him he bolted, tail between his legs down the street.  The Poo heeding Judy’s “Dammit  Poo get your ass over here!” returned obediently to the porch, satisfied that she had done her duty.

Well things progressed in the Poo’s life, she ate, got fat, and defended the realm.  While I worked in my parent’s hometown of Huntington West Virginia as an Emergency Department Chaplain in a local teaching hospital’s Emergency Room we frequently spent time with both of my grandmothers.   My parents had long before retired from the Navy in Mudville, sometimes known as Stockton California and it was by either chance or the Deity Herself and Her providence that I landed the job after my residency.  As it were it gave us the chance to spend a lot of time with both in their sunset years.  One day while visiting my maternal grandmother with Frieda and Poo we got ready to leave.  Now both of the dogs responded to voice commands so we would let them walk to the car when we left.  As we walked out the door onto the porch the Poo took off flying down the steps.  She took off across the yard and made a right turn into the side yard.  We heard a “yelp!” and then saw a black chow tearing out from the yard screaming as it raced away from my grandmother’s house.  Following close was the Poo.  It was like a Messerschmitt 109 diving on a B-24 and pumping it full of holes with its 20mm nose cannon.   As the chow raced away, the Poo heeded our call to turn around. As she ambled back our way we saw something in her mouth.  It was a huge mouthful of black chow fur.  Our tough little Poo had taken the fur off of a chow nearly 4 times her size and weight.

Mommy's Poo portrait rs for email“Classic Greta Poo…with every roll of fat shown” Drawn by Judy

After Frieda died in 2001 Poo continued her ways, she stayed active and when we got Molly she was determined to still be the Alpha-Poo but Molly wouldn’t be bossed around and the Poo had to make a grudging peace with the new little shit. Poo remained a fighter her entire life.  She would never back down from a fight and was determined to defend the realm.  We lost her in June of 2003 while stationed in Jacksonville Florida after she had battled cancer and paralysis.  She was one tough Poo.  She was her mommy’s baby and absolutely devoted to Judy.  We do miss her.  She and Frieda were there with us in our toughest times.  Now the tradition of a little red dog defender of the realm is carried on by Molly, as ferocious as Poo but nowhere near as obedient.

So life continues for us, defended by 15 pounds of hell and terror.

Peace, Steve+

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Let Lying Dogs Sleep

her-sulking-majesty-resized

Frieda glaring and sulking after surgery to remove a tumor on her tail at the age of 10. We sometimes refer to this picture as “The Ass in a Sling.”

The term “Little Shit” in reference to  a Wiener Dog is one which may offend some people who have not been owned by one.  However as a descriptive term there is little better to describe them.  Those of us owned by them who struggle against them also mean it as a term of endearment.  Using the term in this post I mean no offense to the unenlightened, yet as we who know and love them understand deep in our hearts, that these little shits are to be treasured each in their own way.

Wiener Dogs, sometimes known as Dachshunds are among the most peculiar animals. Almost anyone who has been owned by one can tell you stories of how these little shits manage to do things that, well….to put it mildly convince you of the existence of purgatory.  They will make your life Purgatory for the 12-16 years or more that they will own you.  Sorry Protestants who don’t believe, if you aren’t owned by one here there will be one in Purgatory.  She is a Wire Hair named Frieda to run your life until you get straightened out enough to get to heaven.  After all, Purgatory is, like my home of record, West Virginia, Almost Heaven.

Judy and I have had these little wonders for oh… the last 25 years or so.   We have grown attached to them, much as hostages attach to their terrorist captors in the Stockholm Syndrome. We are convinced John, no I’m not having fun Calvin had a Wiener Dog.  Probably a Wire Hair, although I don’t think that the Wire Hair was around quite by JC’s time.  I do think that they came later.  However, that being said and despite the influence of Augustine’s understanding of predestination, Calvin had to have one of these little shits to come up with the doctrine of  Total Depravity. There is no question in my Anglo-Catholic mind of this fact. Likewise,  I’m sure that the Deity Herself will confirm this someday. Maybe John Calvin himself will thank me for bringing this up as we warm up on heaven’s lush green outfield.

For those of you who don’t believe, all you need to do is look at the first chapter of the orginal edition of Jame’s Dobson’s book The Strong Willed Child. Even Dobson cannot escape a power fight with his Wiener Dog named Max.

For us we had Frieda, a beautiful classic Wire Hair Dackel (what the Germans call them) from deep in Bayern (Bavaria). Frieda  took ownership of us on Christmas Eve 1984.  We also had Greta, a fat little red Dachshund from San Antonio who we got in 1988. Finally we have our current little shit and mischlinge (mixed) Long Hair Dachshund-Papillon and defender of the realm, Molly, in 2001.    We lost Frieda at the age of 16 1/2 in 2001. Greta at 15 1/2 in 2003.  Molly still acts like a puppy at 8.  Molly though a mixed breed flips from being the happy and obedient papillon to the obnoxious and stubborn Wiener Dog in nothing flat.  There is no in between setting for her, she goes from the good side of the Force to the Dark side at a moment’s notice.  Sometimes I think that she is channeling Frieda when this happens. Though they never met, they are somewhat kindred spirits.  Molly is not nearly as extreme as Frieda and  we can thank heaven for that. As it were we spent 16 plus years in a constant power fight with Frieda. Despite being a  little shit, Frieda weighed in at 28 pounds and had teeth and jaws like a German Shepherd.  Patently the little shits in Germany are bred to hunt badgers and foxes.  They are incredibly strong and have an attitude just this side of a Klingon in a bad mood.  Most dogs, once you have established dominance as the “Alpha Dog” in your little pack accept their place.  Not Wiener Dogs, especially Frieda. She spent 16 years trying to force us into doing what she wanted be it through passive or aggressive means.  If you have ever seen the Peter Sellers movie The Pink Panther Strikes Again where Inspector Cleauseau visits Oktoberfest and gets a room at a small hotel, you will see what I am referring to here. The good inspector sees a dog laying on the floor near the front desk. He asks the desk clerk if his dog bites.  The clerk replies no and Cleauseau reaches to pet the dog who attacks him.  Cleauseau tells the desk clerk “I thought you said your dog did not bite.” To which the clerk replied; “that’s not my dog.”  The dog is a Wire Hair, who looks just like Frieda in her early years. This was our life for 16 years.

Going back to the subject line of this post, it is more about Frieda than the other two. Although both Greta, as we affectionately called her Poo had her moments, and Molly like I said sometimes channels Frieda.  Frieda was unique. From what I hear from others owned by Wire Hairs that some of what she did are common to all of these miscreant creatures.  I can’t go into too many details and like John the Evangelist I would have to say that there are many more things that Frieda did which cannot be contained in this one blog.

Among other things, Frieda was a liar.  This began early when as a puppy in Germany she would try to fake Judy out about taking a pee.  She knew that if she went outside that she would be rewarded.  Rapidly catching on the little shit began to do “touch and goes’  faking the pee and hoping to still get a reward.  Judy noticed this and thus began an intricate dance of death with the little shit attempting to fool us, and us trying to catch her.  This usually involved looking to make sure that there was wetness where wetness should be on a female dog after they urinate.   If there was no wetness Frieda would not get her reward.  Likewise, Frieda lied about other things.  When she did something that she shouldn’t and you discovered it she could act more innocent than a Nazi at the Nurnberg Trials.  “What? Me? Do something wrong, I was in the Hofbrauhaus while the others we making those decsions.”  If you decided to push the issue she became 28 pounds of razor blades.  Actually it was more like a Sherman tank blundering into an ambush by a Wehrmacht Jagdpanther with the long 88.  Not a fun and often violent.  I think Judy and I still have scars from some of these encounters.

Frieda lied in other ways, occasionally we would catch her.  Once while living in Texas we went to take a blind friend to the store.  This was just before Christmas and Judy had just made a butt-load of cookies.  We didn’t expect the call from our friend so we left the apartment rather quickly.  When we got to our friends’ house we were struck by a terrible thought, the cookies were in striking distance of Frieda and Poo.  Reacting quickly I asked our friend for his phone. This being in the dark ages before cell phones we affordable to the average person.  Calling my house I waited for my version of Bill Clinton’s voice to play through the message on the machine and as soon as the “beep” signaled I was live I began to talk.  “Dammit, get away from the cookies now! I’m coming home and if I catch you you’re dead!” Slamming the phone down I ran to the car and raced the 5 miles back to our apartment.  As I rushed the door I noticed that indeed to cookies had been pilfered, However the dogs were nowhere to be found. I found Poo hiding in the bedroom and Frieda behind the toilet.  I can only imagine the looks on their faces when my voice called them out in the middle of the crime.

Frieda would also play dead.  I mean play dead enough to make that you think that she was dead.  She would be on her back, eyes fixed forward and unblinking, chest not moving. She would do this until we or her various puppy sitters were screaming “Oh may God she’s dead!” When she was happy the little shit would wag the very tip of her tail as if to say gotcha!

If you asked if she knew about the ripped up clothing, eaten socks, opened child proof medicine bottles her eyes would turn to steel.  Molly can do this too when caught.  Thankfully she is only half of Frieda’s weight and not as heavily armed. She also being a mischlinge has to fight the Papillon urge to please, something that Frieda did not have to contend with being fully in tune with the Dark Side of the Force.

As I said before the stories about Frieda could fill volumes.  Those who knew her can attest to these and many other nearly unbelievable stories.  Maybe she was an X-File. I don’t know, but if so she was our X-File and we loved the little shit, we still miss her.  One thing that we know.  Always let lying dogs sleep.

Peace, Steve+

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